Although the island is small, we offer lots of attractions. Public wi-fi is available at the community center, souvenirs are available at the market, or you can visit our heritage building!
The Community Center
Located near the center of the island, beside the Fire Department, the center serves as a place for meetings and events, as well as in the summer months, the NS Community Technology Center access point. The center has a small library, free accessible wi-fi, computer and printing access, as well as crafts and activities for kids. It also has one of the three public outhouses on the island.
The site was where a one-room schoolhouse was built in 1874, after the first schoolhouse (built in the mid 1800s) burnt down. The schoolhouse was so small that not everyone enrolled could attend at the same time and a second teacher was hired in 1937 due to overflow of students. At it’s peak, 60 students were enrolled. In 1958, the schoolhouse was replaced with the current school building, designed by William West of Hopewell. Unfortunately, enrollment dropped, causing its closure in 1971. The community turned it into a community center, and in 1985 it was also used again as a part-time school.
In 1991 a teacher would spend half of the semester on the island and taught primary to grade 6. Middle school and high school children did correspondence and then would move to the mainland for grades 11 and 12. The center was used as a school in the fall and winter months and used as a community center in the summer months. When the children no longer lived on the island, it was once again used as a community center year-round.
Located near the center of the island and a short trip east of the Community Center. For more than 100 years, it is used for social events such as wedding receptions, music frolics and the annual kitchen party. In 2018, a committee was formed under the Pictou Island Community Association (PICA) to access and restore the structural integrity of the stage, the building itself and to implement further improvements. They have replaced some shingles, installed a second doorway near stage, corrected a bowed wall, install electrical wiring, widened the front steps and extended the deck.
Land for the Dance Hall was purchased in July 1898 from Mary and Isabella McKenzie, for the sum of ten dollars. It was purchased to be used as the site for a public hall, which was erected in the early 1900s. The hall used to hold Saturday night frolics with step-dancing and reels. The music was supplied by Islanders playing many instruments such as piano, fiddle, banjo and guitar.
East End Lighthouse
The skeleton automated structure is located on the southern east end of the island. It can be seen while hiking south from the East End Beach, though accessing the grounds is through private property.
A petition for a lighthouse on the east end was made after a disaster happened in 1849. There was a fight for funding and placement between PEI and NS, with a second petition just to NS was successful and the lighthouse was built in 1854. The building was a square tower with an attached dwelling. This was replaced with a similar looking tower in the 30s. The skeleton towers replaced both the West End Lighthouse and the East End Lighthouse after the mid 20th century.
Pictou Island Fire Department
Located near the center of the island, beside the Community Center, the department is made of seasonal and year-round volunteers that supply fire prevention and firefighting services. The fire department has routine training and weekly meetings in the summer as well as first responder training in the spring or fall. To know more about their training, directors and minutes check out the Pictou Island Fire Department (PIFD).
Located near the middle of the island, behind the Community Center and is run by the Pictou Island Heritage Society. The heritage building houses the last ice boat which had been housed in the Northumberland Fisheries Museum since August of 2008.
Ice boats were used on the Island from as early as the 1870’s until 1950 and were designed as mail carriers and in an emergency, would act as transportation for ill or injured Islanders. The ice boat on display was built in 1941 by Vincent Turple Sr. on Pictou Island. Eddie “Spike” MacDonald was the last ice boat operator and ice boat postmaster. The intention of displaying the ice boat on the Island was directly related to context: visitors of the Heritage Site would have traveled the same distance as the ice boat would have across the Northumberland Strait during the ferry ride to the Island.
The Heritage Site also houses several small displays that are intended to reflect aspects of Pictou Island History: industry, infrastructure, and homesteading. Some of the additional artifacts include a handmade model steamer built on Pictou Island in 1935, a first draft petition from Pictou Island fishermen to retain a 2.5-mile radius of private fishing grounds around the Island, as well as a collection of antique farm and home items.
John MacCallum Memorial Park
Located on the east end of the island, the park is a slice of seaside greenery with a beachfront shelter, a changing room, an outhouse and several picnic tables, overlooking the East End Beach. The park is open to the public during the day, but fires and camping are not permitted. Note that there are no freshwater facilities on-site and all garbage must be taken home.
The land was donated to the community in 1994 by Shirley MacCallum in honour of her late husband: a native son who left lobstering to become a prominent lawyer and politician.
West End Lighthouse
The skeleton automated structure is located on the southern east end of the island. It is up on a cliff overlooking the rocks of the West End Beach and is accessible by the main road.
The lighthouse was built in 1905 in this location so it could be seen by the mainland and PEI. The building was an octagonal wood tower. This was replaced by the skeleton tower near the same time as the East End Lighthouse, after the mid 20th century.
Located on the southern western side of the island, the Wharf is the islands access during ferry or boat transportation. The ferry has a fixed location on the wharf where only it can dock, but docking can be made by boats for a daily fee, payable to the wharfinger. The day to day administration of the Wharf is under the Pictou Island Harbour Authority (PIHA) and there you can the appointed wharfinger information, fee rate, Executive and minutes.