Race to save Grand Manan lighthouse grows more urgent
Part of the structure's plaster ceiling is falling apart
Newly discovered damage has added an even greater sense of urgency to the movement to save one of the province's most well-known lighthouses.
Grand Manan's Swallowtail lighthouse, which has long been in need of repairs, has recently suffered further damage, including water damage. Part of the structure's plaster ceiling is falling apart.
Now head lighthouse keeper Ken Ingersoll said the race is on to save the structure, which could be less than a year from irreversible damage. "To lose that tower would be catastrophic," he said.
"It's one of the first things you see when you come to Grand Manan and it's the last thing you see when you leave … I don't know how many photographs are taken of Swallowtail lighthouse in the run of the year."
The lighthouse was built in 1860 and is still operational. Efforts to restore it have been ongoing for over 16 years.
Those efforts recently received a boost after the structure was named a finalist in a National Trust of Canada competition. It did not win, but some publicity was generated.
The projected cost of renovating the lighthouse and keeper's house was $479,000 before the latest damage, with $160,000 being raised so far.
Andrea Kelter, manager of the Swallowtail lighthouse reception centre and gift shop, said the lighthouse isn't just a tourist attraction but an essential part of the community.
"It is a mariner-safety feature and, for the inshore fishery, a critical mariner-safety feature," said Kelter.
"For them, it truly can be life-saving in many different circumstances."
The island has started efforts to do even more fundraising, which include online donation campaigns and a telethon.
Kelter said the loss of the lighthouse would be a huge blow to the community.
"There will be a new light tower … it will do the job," said Kelter. "What it will never do is capture the hearts and the souls and the imaginations of the people who come to Grand Manan."
With files from Lars Schwarz
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