The Three Lamps, Trinity Lamps, or Three Sisters Light are all names used at one time to describe the navigational light at St. Patrick’s Square. Part of Prince William’s Walking Tour, the first light was an oil lamp placed there around 1842 before the era of gas. It was replaced in 1847 by a four-sided gas lamp which was a wonderful piece of art and dedicated to the harbour pilots of Saint John. Each panel depicted the four pilot boats of that time – Rechab, Cygnet, Grace Darling and Charles Stewart. A few years later the single lamp was replace by three red lamps, a creation of gas fitter and tinsmith, Alexander Campbell. For sailors coming into the harbourit was a beacon allowing them to navigate a
safe course into the harbour. If they saw all three
red lamps individually, they knew they okay; if they
could only see one or two of the lights, then theyknew to change course.
Over the years the lamp fell into disrepair, but in 1967 it was restored by H.S. Gregory & Sons Ltd. and the Saint John Iron Works Ltd. On October 3, 1967 it was rededicated to the Saint John Harbour Pilots and a plaque erected in memory of the men who lost their lives when their pilot boat was cut in half on January 14, 1957 by the SS Fort Avalon due to a ‘thick vapour’ – the temperature was 22 degrees below zero and all hands were lost. Local legend has it that the ‘Three Sisters Light’ was actually named for three faithful sisters whose husbands
went to sea and they waited on that spot for their men to return. Other people say it represents three stars in “Perseus” in the Northern Constellation. While these are great pieces of folklore, the truth is The Three Sisters light has saved many lives acting as a navigational aid to guide ships safely into the harbour.