Save Georgian Bay’s Lighthouses

The iconic lighthouses that have defined the Georgian Bay landscape for over a hundred years are under threat. The Canadian Coast Guard has deemed them as being ‘surplus’ to their needs, so most of the major lights on the Bay have either demolition or death by neglect in their future.

Sunset on Bustard Island light and ranges panorama, Bustard Islands, Georgian Bay

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 Coast Guard has ignored the spirit of the Act and declared almost 1000 lighthouses across Canada as being surplus to their needs.

This includes most of the major lights on the Bay (this list is not comprehensive):
Killarney Bustard Rocks Gereaux Island
Pointe au Baril Red Rock Snug Harbour
Jones Island Christian Island

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 the majority of them destroyed.

Point au Baril Lighthouse, Point au Baril, Georgian Bay. Photo by Sean Tamblyn.Above: the light at Pointe au Baril begins to glow as night settles over the Bay.

There must be something we can do.

In order to be saved, a lighthouse has to be nominated for heritage status by May 29 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.  This is a financial burden that individuals and many smaller municipalities will be unable to take on.

Save Canada's Lighthouses LogoSign the petition now.

The Heritage Canada Foundation is organizing a petition to the federal government to provide funds to local groups and communities to save Canada’s lighthouses for future generations.  Without that assistance, we fear that most of the lighthouses on the Bay will be lost.  To date, only the Killarney light has been nominated for heritage status.

Click here to sign the petition and help save Canada’s lighthouses.

For well over a hundred years the lights of Georgian Bay have guided us safely home.  Help spread the word, and maybe we can save some of these guardians of the night.

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