Save Georgian Bay’s Lighthouses

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.

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 DFO has ignored the spirit of the Act and declared almost 1000 lighthouses across Canada to be surplus.

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 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.

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 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.

Additional Resources:

Additional Media:

Star trails over lighthouse and ranges, Bustard Islands, Georgian BayGereaux Lighthouse, Gereaux Island, Georgian BaySnug Harbour Lighthouse, Snug Harbour, Georgian Bay. Photo by Sean Tamblyn.Stormclouds Over Red Rock Lighthouse, Mink Islands, Georgian Bay. Photo by Sean Tamblyn.Above, from left to right:  August stars streak over the Bustard Islands light and twin ranges, the Gereaux Island light, the light at Snug Harbour, and severe weather pounds the light at Red Rock.

3 Responses to “Save Georgian Bay’s Lighthouses”

  1. […] you are a Canadian, visit the following website, sign the petition, and let your voice be heard.   (Possible) Related […]

  2. Please save the lighthouses.
    These buildings are so historical and are markers that show us the geography of the this beautiful country. We must protect the history of this land.

    Laurie J Cochrane

  3. I McI says:

    Another resource worth visiting “Lighthouses of the Great Lakes”

Leave a Reply