Shine Bright Like A Lighthouse. A Love Affair With Maritime History.

Shine Bright Like A Lighthouse. A Love Affair With Maritime History.

John Sylvester, Country Magazine May 15, 2014

Peggy's Cove

Peggy’s Point Lighthouse (Photo: John Sylvester)

Having grown up in Nova Scotia, I have fond memories of scrambling over the curved granite whaleback rocks below my aunt’s cottage near the community of Peggy’s Cove.

Even though that’s the home of Nova Scotia’s most famous landmark, Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, I didn’t pay much attention to the lighthouse in those days. The tide pools and shallow caves of the whalebacks were more enticing. As an adult, however, I’ve grown to appreciate and cherish these beautiful beacons and the maritime tradition they represent. . . . more

See more photos and information under his story in Country Magazine called Lighthouse Preservation in Atlantic Coast Canada

Editor’s Note: Find additional information on Quebec, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island lighthouses, along with ideas for exploring the surrounding towns, right here on our blog!

And be sure to read John Sylvester’s new eBook: A Photographer’s Guide to Prince Edward Island, a downloadable PDF for mobile devices, available at: www.photographersguidetopei.com.

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As long as humans have sailed the oceans, we’ve needed navigational aids to warn of hidden shoals and dangerous headlands. The earliest warning lights were coastal bonfires. The first known lighthouse was built at Alexandria, Egypt, around 280 B.C. The British built North America’s first one at the entrance to Boston Harbor in 1716. The French ­followed 15 years later with Canada’s first lighthouse near their fortress at ­Louisbourg on what is now Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.

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Peggy’s Point Lighthouse (Photo: John Sylvester)

In sailing’s golden age, from the 1700s to the mid-19th century, lighthouses proliferated along the Atlantic coast. In Atlantic Canada alone, nearly 500 still stand along 33,000 miles of mainland and island coastline. A few miles up the coast from Peggy’s Cove, North America’s oldest continuously operating light, Sambro Island Lighthouse, stands on a tiny granite outcrop at the entrance to Halifax Harbor. Built in 1758, its eye-catching 80-foot red-and-white tower has been the first sign of land seen by countless sailors, immigrants and ocean liner passengers—including the Titanic survivors—as they approached the safety of landfall.

During the heyday of maritime activity, lighthouse keepers and their families lived in homes either attached to or close by the lighthouse. They often had to fend for themselves in isolated circumstances, growing a garden and raising livestock in addition to their full-time duties tending the light. Every evening, in fair weather or foul, the light keeper climbed a narrow, winding staircase to the top of the tower to light the lamp, located behind a powerful Fresnel lens that magnified and ­transmitted the beam far out to sea.

Light keepers eventually lost their jobs to automation, and in recent years sophisticated GPS navigation systems have rendered lighthouses redundant. Some have fallen into disrepair, but many have been rescued by local preservation or historical societies and converted into museums or tourist attractions.

Thanks to broad grassroots support, the federal government passed an act encouraging lighthouse preservation. But Natalie Bull, executive director of Heritage Canada The National Trust, notes that the legislation ultimately says it’s up to communities to protect their lighthouses.

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Bay of Fundy Lighthouse (Photo: John Sylvester)

“It’s very challenging, but residents of the Maritime Provinces are resourceful,” she adds. “Community groups have long been willing to take on these preservation projects, even before the act passed. New Brunswick’s Cape Enrage Lighthouse is a great example.”

The Cape Enrage keepers house was slated to be torn down when, in 1993, a group of local high school kids and their physics teacher started renovating it. Two years later the Coast Guard transfered ownership to the province, and the site is now the hub of a thriving adventure tourism destination that includes kayaking, rock climbing and horseback riding.

The wonderful thing about lighthouses, of course, is that they’re invariably built on beautiful coastal stretches. Some have been converted into inns where you can rent a room overlooking the ocean, listen to the waves lapping the shore and imagine life in a bygone era. You can now find lighthouse inns in all five of the provinces on Canada’s Atlantic Coast.

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Quirpon Island Lighthouse (Photo: John Sylvester)

A few years ago I clambered into a small fishing boat that transported me to remote Quirpon Island off the north coast of Newfoundland, where I stayed in a cozy inn that was a former light keeper’s cottage. I spent two glorious days exploring the island, watching whales and sculpted icebergs drift by, and being pampered with Newfoundland’s renowned hospitality.

But even when I can’t spend the night, I rarely pass up a chance to visit one of these inviting beacons. On a recent trip to Nova Scotia, my wife and I drove out to Peggy’s Point Lighthouse on a beautiful autumn day. We joined tourists from all over the world wandering among the same whaleback rocks that fascinated me as a child.

We lingered through the afternoon, enjoying the timeless wonder of waves breaking on the rocks and sunlight sparkling off the ocean while one of Canada’s most beloved symbols of a proud seafaring tradition stood watch. And this time, I knew enough to appreciate it.

John Sylvester is an author and photographer based in Prince Edward Island, Canada. He specializes in photographing the people and places of Canada, and has published extensively on the Atlantic region, including the great lighthouses.

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Cape d’Or Lighthouse (Photo: John Sylvester)

 

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An ice flow off Newfoundland (Photo: John Sylvester)

 

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Sunset at Fortune Head Lighthouse (Photo: John Sylvester)

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Book – Facing the Sea: Lightkeepers and Their Families

Facind the SeaFacing the Sea: Lightkeepers and Their Families
By Harold Chubbs and Wade Kearley
Foreword by Lorne Humphries
Genre: History: General
Imprint: Flanker Press
Format: Hardcover, 132 pages, colour photos and illustrations
Pub Date: October 2013
Price: $34.95
ISBN-10: 1-77117-301-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-77117-301-8
Shipping Weight: 0.9 kg

About this Book
In Facing the Sea, authors Harold Chubbs and Wade Kearley have captured an important era in the maritime history of Newfoundland and Labrador. These tales of rescue and tragedy, of love lost and redeemed, describe first-hand what life was like for lightkeepers and their families in twenty-five light stations along the exposed and often inhospitable coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of these stories are told here for the first time in print, and each story is rich with new details and insights from the perspective of these remarkable men and women. Order Now!

 

Chris Mills – Canadian Lighthouse Photographs

 

Canadian Lighthouse Photographs

New website is coming.
http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/ketm/
is no longer online


Chris Mills
1121 Ketch Harbour Rd.
Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia  B3V 1K7

 

 

British Columbia | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | New Brunswick | Newfoundland

Chris Mills served as a lighthouse keeper for the Canadian Coast Guard on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

He is currently co-chair of a committee which is recruiting Members of Parliament in support of a private members bill to protect lighthouses.  To see how you can help, visit this site:  Canada Needs a Lighthouse Protection Act.

Photographs and enlargements are for sale. Contact Chris Mills for price information.
All photographs and slides in the collection are identified, dated and signed.

Chris Mills is also author of the book on Nova Scotia lighthouses Lighthouse Legacies available from Amazon.ca


Sambro Island restoration project


BRITISH COLUMBIA

Some of these photos may be viewed at the Lighthouses of British Columbia site.

Green Island (1994, 1995) 250 colour photos, 70 colour slides in collection. All aspects of the station and island documented — aerial views, sea views, night views, details of light and lighthouse, lightkeepers, Coast Guard helicopters, surrounding islands and seascapes.

 

Langara Island (1994, 1996) 250 colour and 25 black and white photos, 180 colour slides in collection. All aspects of station documented — aerial views, night views, detailed views of 1913 First Order Fresnel Lens (manufactured by Chance Brothers), light tower and lantern, lightkeepers, dwellings, interior of engine room, old cabin on island, face carved in tree, shoreline views, lightkeeper’s goats, stormy seas.

 

Triple Island (1994) 24 colour photos in collection. Aerial views, third order Fresnel lens, lightkeeper, detailed views of lighthouse structure, interior of workshop and engine room.

 

Bonilla Island (1994) 250 colour photos in collection. Many aspects of station — aerial views, sea views, night views, shoreline views (including Japanese glass fishing floats), lightkeepers, dwellings, engine room interior, light tower. (NOTE: this collection will be expanded during Sept/Oct 1996)

 

Boat Bluff (1994-1996) 160 colour photos in collection. All aspects of station — aerial views, sea views, night views, details of light tower, fog horns , engine room, main light (including views of keeper inspecting light at night, inspection of light and bulbs during day), views of station and mountains from 1000 foot hill across the channel from lightstation, snow views, old hand fog horn, three modern plastic lenses, sunrise views, surrounding bays and inlets, Santa and Mrs. Claus visit 1994. (NOTE: Available as of Dec. 1996 — selection of a further 200 colour and b&w prints taken during August 1996, including Coast Guard ship and work crews supplying station.)

 

Ivory Island (1994-1996) 600+ colour and 36 black and white photos, 100 colour slides in collection. All aspects of the lightstation — 30 aerial views, sea views, night views, lighthouse, keepers, dwellings inside and out, engine room, main light, surrounding area, beaches, salmon fishing, snow, totem poles, artist and photographer at work at the lightstation, Coast Guard helicopters, sunsets, shoreline and forest, various tidal life (sea stars, crabs, etc.), local minor beacon lights, 25th annual Santa and Mrs. Claus visit December 1995.

 

McInnes Island (1994, 1995) 48 colour photos, 22 colour slides in collection. Aerial views, lighthouse structure, radio room, keeper, detail of lantern and main light, large thunder cloud formations.

 

Dryad Point (1995) 32 colour photos in collection. Aerial views, light tower, main light, keeper and daughter, keeper and main light, dwelling. (NOTE: This collection will be expanded during 1997)

 

Addenbroke Island (1994) 14 colour photos in collection. Aerial views.

 

Egg Island (1994) 10 colour photos in collection. Aerial views.

 

Pine Island (1994) 3 colour photos in collection. Aerial views.

 

Scarlett Point (1994) 2 colour photos. Aerial views.

 

Point Atkinson (1994) 14 black and white photos in collection. Light tower, keeper and main light, station dwellings and exterior of radio/engine room.

 

Brockton Point (1994) 5 black and white photos in collection. Light tower.

 

Porlier Pass (1994) 32 colour photos in collection. Two light towers (Porlier is a range light station), main lights, boat and boathouse, lightkeeper, dwelling, interior engine room and fog horn building, Coast Guard hovercraft. (NOTE: The old front range light was demolished Feb. 1996 and replaced by a fibreglass tower and the lighthouse was automated shortly after.)

 

Fisgard (1994) 6 colour, 2 black and white photos in collection. Light tower and detail of gothic style window in old keepers dwelling.

 

Sheringham Point (1994, 1995) 20 colour photos in collection. Light tower, abandoned dwelling, sunset, old Fresnel lens at local museum.

 

Amphitrite Point (1995) 9 colour slides in collection (prints available). Lighthouse structure, old keepers dwelling.

 

Lennard Island (1995) 52 colour photos, 25 colour slides in collection. Traveling to island by boat, keeper in boat, keeper in lighthouse, keeper and wife on station grounds, dwellings, radio room, engine room, details of two fog horn systems, including traditional diaphone horn taken out of service Oct. 1995, light tower, station grounds.

 

Cape Scott (1996) 23 colour photos in collection. Aerial views.

NOVA SCOTIA

Some of these photos may be viewed at the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society site.

Baccaro Point
Bear River
Beaver Island
Black Rock Point
 (new lighthouse)

Black Rock Point (old lighthouse)
Boar’s Head
Brier Island
Cape Forchu
Cape George
Cape Sable
Chebucto Head
Fort Point
 (LaHave River)

Fort Point (Liverpool)
Fourchu Head
Gabarus
George’s Island
Grand Passage
Hampton
 (Chute Cove)

Horton Bluff
Jerome Pont
Louisbourg
Low Point
Maugher’s Beach
Medway Head
Peggy’s Cove
Point Aconi
Port Greville
 (old light, now at Canadian Coast Guard College, Point Edward, N.S.)

Port Medway
Prim Point
Rouse Point
Sable Island
 (east light)

Sable Island (west light)
Sambro Island
Scatarie Island
Schafner Point
Seal Island
Sydney Range
 (front light)

Sydney Range (rear light)
Western Head
Battery Point
Betty’s Island
Canso Locks
Cross Island
 (comprehensive collection including automation day)

Eddy Point
Mosher’s Island
Seal Island
 (comprehensive collection)

Seal Island Lighthouse Museum

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Blockhouse Point
Borden Range
 (front light)

Borden Range (rear light)
Cape Bear
Cape Tryon
Brighton Beach Range
 (front light)

Brighton Beach Range (rear light)
East Point
Murray Harbour Range
 (front light)

New London Range (rear light)
North Rustico
Panmure Island
Point Prim
Souris East
Summerside Range
 (front light)

Summerside Range (rear light)
Woods Islands
Woods Islands Range
 (front light)

Woods Islands Range (rear light)

NEW BRUNSWICK

Cape Spencer
Cape Tormentine
Fish Fluke Point
 (Grand Harbour)

Gannet Rock (comprehensive collection: 700+ prints and slides)
Great Duck Island
East Quoddy
 (Head Harbour)

Letite
Long Eddy
Long Point
Machias Seal Island
 (comprehensive collection)

Mulholland Point
Southwest Head
Swallowtail

NEWFOUNDLAND

Cape Anguille
Cape Ray
Cape Saint Francis
 (dwelling only)

Cape Saint Mary’s
Cape Spear
Lobster Cove Head
Rose Blanche
 (old stone lighthouse)