Tucked into the westernmost corner of Prince Edward Island, Cedar Dunes Provincial Park (established 1962, 37 ha) has been developed around an historic lighthouse. Known as West Point, the site is the result of centuries of accretion of sand from a north to south coastal current.
Currents and tides were also the reasons a lighthouse was built in 1875 to warn shipping of constantly moving sandbars at the point. General James WOLFE is believed to have lost one of his ships there on his way to Québec. Used as a symbol of the province many times, the lighthouse continues in service today and is the most prominent feature of the park.
The park draws its name from the other features of the park: cedar and sand dunes. Uncommon in the province, Eastern white cedar thrives only in the wet sandy soil of this region. The dunes are not on the shore, as might be expected, but are inland behind the lighthouse and heavily vegetated. Dune ridges and wet areas between them support some rare species of plants such as false SOLOMON'S SEAL (Smilacina stellata). Piping plover (an ENDANGERED ANIMAL) nests along the beach.
Natural pathways between the dunes were called fairy walks by early Scottish settlers, believing fairies kept them open. Now used as nature trails, the paths are worth exploring for plants and bird species found there by season. A small campground rests in the shadow of the lighthouse near the beach. The lighthouse houses a museum, seasonal dining room and Canada's only inn in a lighthouse.