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

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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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Celebrating the Lighthouses of PEI

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Click the photo to go to the website.

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Private (Model) Lighthouse For Sale

Private (Model) Lighthouse For Sale – via Journal Pioneer

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Wall looks out from the top floor his lighthouse.

 

New Annan fisherman looking to sell unique lawn ornament
NEW ANNAN – Anybody want to buy a lighthouse? Chris Wall of New Annan is selling his.

It’s three storeys tall and is a scaled down replica of the Cape Tryon Light.

It’s currently sitting on Wall’s front lawn in New Annan, on the headlands of the Barbara Weit River.

Anyone who’s driven by his property would probably have noticed the structure – it’s pretty hard to miss. The lighthouse is the pride and joy of his carpentry hobby, said the career lobster fisherman, but he’s recently decided that it’s time to move on to his next challenge.

So he’s offering up his lighthouse to a good home for $15,000. . . . more

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Lighthouses of Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Society

 Click on the partial map for the website.

From the Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Society comes this beautiful descriptive map of ALL the lighthouses (manned and automated) on Prince Edward Island (aka PEI), the smallest of Canada’s provinces. It consists of the main island and 231 minor islands. Altogether the entire province has a land area of 5,685.73 km2 (2,195.27 sq mi). (Wiki) Continue reading

Here Is How To Do It in Prince Edward Island

This is how you go about saving a lighthouse. Work for it! Work together for it. Councillor Rob Lantz of Charlottetown electoral ward 3 (Brighton), Charlottetown, PEI, Canada has given me permission to repost this article here from his Ward 3 Brighton blog.

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Saving the Brighton Beach Range Light
Published by Councillor Rob Lantz on January 10, 2012   in Heritage

The  Brighton Beach Range Front Light is a designated heritage resource under the city’s Zoning & Development Bylaw. The lighthouse was built in 1890. It is an iconic symbol of our nautical heritage and provides a scenic shoreline vista that is photographed as much as, maybe more than, any other site in Charlottetown.

Random photos pulled from the photo sharing site Flickr.

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