The days are numbered for the iconic lighthouses that have defined the Georgian Bay landscape for over a hundred years. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has deemed them to be ‘surplus’, so many of the major lights on the Bay have either demolition or death by neglect in their future.
Above: twilight settles over the Bustard Islands lighthouse and twin ranges, possibly for the last time.
Wait, what are you talking about? Are you serious?
We’re deadly serious. Interpreting the letter of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, the DFO has ignored the spirit of the Act and declared almost 1000 lighthouses across Canada to be surplus.
|Killarney||Bustard Rocks||Gereaux Island|
|Pointe au Baril||Red Rock||Snug Harbour|
|Jones Island||Christian Island||Lonely Island|
For a comprehensive listing of the status of all Georgian Bay navigational aids,
see the Georgian Bay Lighthouse Tracker.
You’ve got to be kidding. Why?
The Coast Guard, to put it simply, doesn’t want to maintain the buildings any more. Most of the Georgian Bay lights are wooden structures, in remote hard-to-get-to locations. They would much rather erect simple steel towers that require minimal maintenance than be in the business of, shall we say, property management. The HLPA was supposed to protect these historical structures, but instead could see many of them destroyed.
There must be something we can do.
In order to be saved, a lighthouse had to be nominated for heritage status by June 1, 2012 with two things: a list of no less than 25 signed names, and a party willing to take over the structure and maintain it to heritage standards. Nominations are now closed, and announcements will be made by May 29, 2015 as to the fate of Georgian Bay’s lights. Until then, it’s a waiting game. A comprehensive status list is kept on the Georgian Bay Lighthouse Tracker, and Parks Canada has their official list of Heritage-status lights in Ontario.
For well over a hundred years the lights of Georgian Bay have guided us safely home. Help spread the word, and maybe for once we can return the favour.