Some nights I have trouble thinking up a topic for this blog. Invariably I will start flipping through archival images to see if anything jumps out at me. Usually some image out of Annapolis County's history will rise to the surface. This was not my problem tonight. Tonight I have at least four fully formed posts banging around in my mind with a fifth post floating a little bit further off. Since I am only going to make one post today, I suppose that I should start with the most politically relevant topic.
Driving home yesterday I heard a newscast which made me start to shake my head with disbelief. I had the overwhelming feeling of "well, it has been a few months since we have dealt with a built heritage crisis we may as well get busy again". The news that I heard was that the Canadian Department of fisheries and Oceans was declaring almost 1000 lighthouses surplus. Included in this list are iconic structures like the Peggy's Cove light and Sambro Island light which is the oldest lighthouse in the Americas. These structures which played such an important role in the seafaring history of Nova Scotia were being tossed aside. The sheer scale of this announcement was hard to fathom. The questions were coming fast and furious. Could they really be declaring all of those facilities surplus? What will become of them once they are surplus? What will become of our lighthouses in Annapolis County? What role are local heritage advocates going to play?
The announcement of surplus lighthouses is a direct result of the recently enacted (and seemingly ironically named) Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The act lays out the terms under which the lighthouses will be transferred to groups or individuals. A petition signed by 25 people must be brought forward to the Minister responsible for Parks Canada to have the lighthouse declared a historic lighthouse. The light will not be declared historic without the petition. On the same note, the light will not be released to a proponent without a historic designation. Once designated the proponent must submit a business plan of how they plan to care for the building. Ironically, about half of the "surplus" lighthouses are still in use as navigational aids. When the light is in use, an arrangement will be made with the new owner to allow DFO to maintain the light but not the property or building.
For the record, I have found three Annapolis County lighthouses on the list. These structure are Port Royal (Schafner's Point), Victoria Beach and Bear River. The images in this post are of the Port Royal lighthouse and of the rocky shores of the Annapolis Basin. There may be a few more Annapolis County lighthouses which are using less common geographical names which we will figure out in the coming days. The lighthouses in Annapolis Royal and Hampton are already owned by not-for-profit groups. At this point, I do not know what will become of these surplus lights. Rest assured, I will be coming back to this topic at some point in the future.
All for now,