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Northern Lights Realty


The Northern Lights Real Estate Story

Mission Statement

We are a service industry. Our mission is to provide the best real estate service to the public. Our goal is to have the public associate Northern Lights Realty  with the elite of the real estate industry. We want to ensure that all people who deal with us know that they are in the capable hands of a first rate professional real estate firm.

About the Northen Lights

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a natural wonder where strange sheets of light dance across the night sky. The aurora is caused by solar particles entering the earths atmosphere. The movement of these particles are influenced strongly by the earths magnetic field resulting in them being focused towards the north and south poles. The aurora is most intense at around 67 north; in Greenland, Iceland, and northern parts of Canada, Russia and the nordic countries. The people in these areas know a few things about keeping warm during the long cold polar nights. For further information see

Since the inception, the focus of Northern Lights Real Estate has always been on our customers. As a result, we have been greatly rewarded and continue to proudly build our business by dealing with clients throughout the world. We continue to grow one client at a time....

Our pledge, along with a strong commitment to community involvement, assures clients that they are dealing with ethical, knowledgeable and caring REAL ESTATE AGENTS.

The Northern Light was also the name of the first ice-breaker between PEI and the mainland. Here is a brief history of marine services by Thomas E. Appleton. Please enjoy :) 

Prince Edward Island

On July 1, 1873, Prince Edward Island entered Confederation. Up till that time the Government of the island colony had maintained nine lighthouses with salaried light keepers and eight minor lights maintained under individual contract. An agent was appointed in the usual way, although, in their annual report for 1873, the Department dryly notes that: "this appointment was cancelled on the formation of the new Government", and that:

"it is probable, with the small amount of business which this Department will have in Prince Edward Island, that it may not be considered necessary to have an officer appointed specially for the purpose of attending to it, as there will be very little for him to attend to". O tempora, o mores.

But however lightly the Dominion Government might view the duties of their marine agent, an urgent problem in marine transportation, which had worried the Islanders for many years, now called for a solution. Alone among the Atlantic Provinces, communication with Prince Edward Island was virtually impossible in the depths of winter. In the days of the early steamers, it will be remembered that the Royal William had been put on the Quebec-Halifax run about 1830, and that Francois Baby had operated ships between the Province of Canada and the New Brunswick coast in the years preceding Confederation.

These steamboat services had proved to be inadequate. Just as the condition had been stipulated that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were to be connected to Montreal, on Confederation, by the Intercolonial railway, so it was that Prince Edward Islands entrance to the Dominion was dependant on guaranteed ferry connection to the impending railway system, which would be opened in 1876. Nor was this unreasonable; the landward Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had ice-free ports which could be reached if necessary, and even the Colony of Newfoundland, remote though it was in the grip of winter, could receive travellers from the mainland, by sea, if they were sufficiently determined and had the time to wait for weather. The Northumberland Strait, however, was a different matter. In winter the ice was thick enough to be impassable for the steamers of the day and, although the Strait was frozen over, there were usually cracks and fissures along both shores which rendered it extremely difficult and dangerous to attempt the crossing on foot.

Photo: CGS Stanley

CGS Stanley
Of 2300 indicated horsepower, the Stanley was a powerful little ship for her day. She is shown here towing two sailing ships from the ice at Bridgewater, N.-S.
circa 1910.

The people of Prince Edward Island had come to the conclusion that the Federal Government was not really trying to fulfil its promise of a winter ferry service and laying their case before the Imperial Parliament at Westminster, they brought suit against the Dominion Government for damages, in breach of contract, amounting to five million dollars. The British Government declined to take any action in the matter other than referring it to the Government of Canada. At the end of the winter of 1887-8, the Northern Light was found to be badly strained and was withdrawn from the service. The time was now ripe for an improvement and in 1888 the Stanley, our first really effective icebreaker, was built in Scotland.

Photo: CGS Minto

CGS Minto

The Stanley came from the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, then rising to a prominent place as builders of high class passenger liners, and achieved a reputation as a superior vessel. She could do fifteen knots and was certificated in Canada for the accommodation of passengers. Like most Fairfield ships, she had nicely proportioned masts and, with her clipper bow, she looked more like a yacht than a working icebreaker, although she was built of Siemens-Martin steel and lasted till 1936 when she was sold for scrapping. The Stanley started work in 1888, making daily trips between Charlottetown and Pictou until the ice forced her to work out of Georgetown. Sometimes conditions became too much for her but, in general, the Stanley was a successful ship. In 1900 the Department took delivery of a more powerful icebreaker from Dundee to augment the Prince Edward Island service.

Photo: Iceboats

Passengers and boatmen tracking across the Northumberland Straits in the severe winter of 1905.
(Public Archives)

The second ship for the Island ferry service in winter was the Minto. Between them, the Stanley and Minto maintained a good service and there were fewer interruptions than ever before. In summer they were withdrawn for refit and lighthouse supply work, when the run would be maintained by privately owned vessels of the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company. In 1905, however, the ice became so bad that the Stanley and Minto were unable to keep going, and the Islanders had to fall back on their traditional iceboat service, a truly remarkable organization, then under the Department, which supplied the only communication between the end of January and late March of that year.

The iceboat service to Prince Edward Island, which for years had been the only method of communication in winter, ran from Cape Traverse to Cape Tormentine on the New Brunswick shore, a distance of some nine miles. Often, owing to tide and severe ice formations, the passage would be a great deal longer, and it was certainly no ferry for the faint hearted. As a result of the severe winter in 1905 there had been a tremendous accumulation of mail and express freight, and the boats carried thousands of bags and a few passengers, successfully clearing some two thirds of the accumulated cargo. The iceboats were made for easy pulling, whaleboat style, of some nineteen feet in length and five and a half beam; they were very lightly built, the planking being sheathed with tinplate for protection against the razor-like ridges of ice and they had double keels, heavily shod with iron runners, to facilitate manhandling over the ice. Each boat had four oars and five boathooks and was fitted with leather straps to the gunwales which could be thrown over the shoulder as the crews jumped out to haul them over hummocks and pans of ice, or struggled back inboard when the broken "lolly" gave way under foot. There were boathouses and crews on each shore. The passenger fare was four dollars for those who role inboard all the way, or two dollars for hardy souls who jumped out and helped the boatmen.

Notwithstanding the interruption caused by the hard winter of 1905, the coming of the Minto greatly strengthened the ferry service required by the terms of Confederation. It would seem that the government had been a little sensitive about the business in the difficult years before 1900 for, in the session of 1901, a bill was introduced in parliament by a government member which subsequently authorized the payment of an annual allowance of thirty thousand dollars to the Province of Prince Edward Island. This was an addition to previously negotiated federal grants, and was in recognition of alleged shortcomings in fulfilling the terms of union. It was a far cry from five million even two steel icebreakers and thirty thousand dollars together had amounted to only a fraction of that sum in those days but presumably it "freshened the nip" and eased the position in the constant adjustment of federal-provincial relations.

Photo: CGS Earl Grey

CGS Earl Grey
(Public Archives)

In 1909 the Department ordered a larger icebreaking passenger steamer for the Island ferry. To the designs of Charles Duguid, the naval architect of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, the ship was built by Vickers Sons & Maxim, at Barrow-in-Furness, and was named Earl Grey. The annual report for 1910 noted that she:

". . is fitted up in a superior manner as a passenger and freight boat, the accommodations for first class passengers being superior to the best passenger boats in the British Isles."

At two hundred and fifty feet she was longer than the Stanley and Minto and became a popular vessel. With her exceptionally spacious accommodation she was suitable for important inspection tours and was much used by Lord Grey himself, who was a great traveller as well as being a patron of football and the donor of the Grey Cup. We have had many ships named after governors general besides the Grey, Stanley and Minto, but it was unusual to have three of them closely associated in a common record of service, not only on the Prince Edward Island run but also in surveying work for the Hudson Bay route. Perhaps the fame of the Earl Grey had reached more distant circles because of this combination of apparently unrelated activities, icebreaking and first class passenger carrying, for the Russian Government became interested in her for service at Archangel. Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914 she was sold to them for $493,000, a very reasonable price considering that tonnage was scarce and that she had cost half a million only five years previously; our Russian allies got a bargain and they must have valued the ship for they renamed her Kanada until, from the maelstrom of the great revolution, the vice regal favourite emerged as the Fedor Litke. She disappeared from Lloyds Register in 1959-60 but her fame lives on. In 1955 the Fedor Litke steamed north of Spitzbergen to reach 83 deg. 11 min. North under her own power; thus it comes about that the wheelhouse and radio shack of the old Earl Grey are on view in the Maritime Museum at Moscow.

The passenger ships of the Department of Marine and Fisheries were comfortable and well up to the best of their day, but conditions were changing and they became outdated when the traffic required a continuous freight service without trans-shipment between the Prince Edward Island Railway and the Intercolonial. With the completion of the car ferry terminus in 1918, to the designs of Mr. Bowden, the chief engineer of Railways and Canals, the Marine Department ships were withdrawn in favour of railway car ferries. Henceforward the Stanley pursued the ever increasing work of light station supply and the growing business of ice control. The Minto had followed the Earl Grey to Russia in 1915.

In the matter of lights and buoys, whatever may have been the intentions of the Department in hesitating to appoint a marine agent on Confederation, the experience of the first two years, during which they attempted to run the Prince Edward Island lights through the local agent of the Department of Finance, seems to have convinced the authorities in Ottawa that there was more to the business than the payment of salaries to light keepers. In 1875 Mr. William Mitchell was appointed as marine agent and inspector of lights at Charlottetown, and the work of the agency proceeded on established lines, as elsewhere.