Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finally Seeing the Light

In the Maritimes, lighthouses have helped to keep ships off the rocks for centuries.  Lights would warn the crew about rocks they might not have seen in the dark. Now, with a Global Positioning System (GPS), mariners know exactly where they are in all kinds of weather.  They no longer have to steer by the stars or try to figure out where they are by what lighthouse they see in the distance.  Unfortunately lighthouses are no longer needed and are being decommissioned.

For several years I have wanted to get back to Nova Scotia to do the lighthouse tour before they all vanish.  One year we got as far as New Brunswick, and ended up doing what I called the All Saints tour instead. (St Stephen, St Andrews, St George, St John, and St Martins), and another year we tried the American route, and enjoyed Vermont and New Hampshire and never did get to the coast.  We tend to head in a general direction, but if we end up discovering things along the way, that's fine. We are, after all, on vacation, and enjoying ourselves if more important than getting to a specific destination.  Last year I let the possibility of bad weather keep us from the east coast and we had a staycation instead.

This year, we did actually get to the Nova Scotia, and followed the Lighthouse Route along the South Shore.  Even though I had lived in NS as a child, I had a specific shape in my head as what a Canadian lighthouse looked like. We saw so many different varieties, I know now that there is no one shape, even in Nova Scotia.

Naturally, the people of Nova Scotia do not want to see their lighthouses disappear, so they are finding ways to preserve them. The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society maintains a list of lighthouses on their website, including ones that are open to the public.

 I know we missed several, but here are the ones we saw:

 This is the Gilbert Cove Lighthouse.  It was also the home of the lighthouse keeper and his family. Now it's a museum.

The Cape Forchu Light Station was the most impressive site we visited. The apple core style lighthouse guards the entrance to Yarmouth harbour.  It was the last lighthouse in Nova Scotia to have a resident light keeper. It was also the first one to be taken over by a municipality. 

It has 19 acres of groomed grounds to explore.  It's so beautiful there I was inspired to paint. If you make to South Shore of Nova Scotia, don't miss this one.

We visited a Historical Acadian Village, and there was a little lighthouse there, tucked back among the trees. There were, admittedly, other things to be found there that I found more interesting. 

A lobster fisherman by the name of Olen, who works at the village during the summer, is a particular delight. We caught him demonstrating how to make gill nets by hand. He is full of interesting stories, and loves to share them.

 We visited Shag Harbour, the site of the famous UFO sighting, and found a red and white lighthouse there too.

Near Bridgewater we located the Fort Point Lighthouse Park.

Then we took some back roads to nowhere, and after a few false roads finally located another lighthouse in a very secluded area.  This one was more the iconic shape I expected to find throughout the province. 

And of course we cannot leave out the world famous lighthouse at Peggy's Cove.

On the way home, we stopped by one more on the opposite side of the province.  This one is known as  the 5 Island Lighthouse. It is situated on a 22-acre  park on the Bay of Fundy with panoramic view of the Five Islands, Minas Basin and remarkable tides. The style of this lighthouse is known as a  “Pepper Pot”.

In historic downtown Fredericton, we found another lighthouse along the St. John River. This one is known as the Lighthouse on the Green, and functions as a restaurant.

 We have always driven right past Fredericton, but this was our excuse to actually go downtown. There were other fascinating things to see in the same vicinity.

.....like the soldiers who do a little changing of the guard ceremony at city hall.

And finally, in Edmonston, we found what was more of a Blockhouse than a lighthouse, but it too stood on a rock overlooking the water.

It may have taken us years to finally do the lighthouse tour, and though there were still many we didn't see, we had a very enjoyable vacation.


  1. The Lighthouse Tour is now on my bucket list of things that I want to do some day.Great photos of your trip! Thanks for sharing them.

  2. The south shore is a wonderful area to explore. Make sure you don't miss visiting The Ovens south of Lunenburg!