New Brunswick

Conservation group tries to save aging Musquash Head Lighthouse

A conservation group is hoping to preserve an aging lighthouse at the entrance to Musquash Harbour on the Bay of Fundy before the structure is damaged beyond repair.

Lighthouse at entrance to Musquash Estuary showing a few cracks, mould

The Musquash Head Lighthouse was built in the 1950s and, while structurally sound, is in need of repairs. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

A conservation group is hoping to preserve an aging lighthouse at the entrance to Musquash Harbour on the Bay of Fundy before the structure is damaged beyond repair. 

The Musquash Head Lighthouse is in the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area, southwest of Saint John, where much of the land is administered by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Paula Noel, the conservancy's New Brunswick program director, said the lighthouse has become a valued structure since the construction of the Split Rock Trail.

"That's sort of the destination point … I think, in recent years," said Noel.

"Thanks to that trail a lot more people have been out there and have been visiting the site."

Deteriorating icon

There are cracks, holes and the beginnings of mould in the Musquash Head Lighthouse southwest of Saint John on the Bay of Fundy. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Unlike the historic lighthouses in the province, the Musquash Head Lighthouse is made of concrete, not wood.

It was constructed in the 1950s, and Noel said it's been deteriorating in recent years.

"The paint is peeling and there's some some cracks and holes in the structure," he said.

"The situation right now is that if it's to be preserved there's going to really need to be a community effort to step up and make sure that the lighthouse gets the care it needs to be able to survive in the long term."

While the Coast Guard looks after the actual light in the lighthouse, the responsibility for maintaining the structure falls on the conservancy.

Noel said reports given to the conservancy from the Coast Guard indicate the lighthouse is still structurally sound, although some water is getting into it and some mould is beginning to grow.

"If the repairs could be done now, it looks like we could prevent more serious structural damage at this point," said Noel.

"If it goes on for much longer, with not having any upkeep … there would be concern for the long-term viability of the of the lighthouse itself."

Growing conservation area

The Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area is more than 5,000 acres (about 2,023 hectares) and the only intact estuary left on the Bay of Fundy. (Nick Hawkins Photography)

Noel said the conservancy has conserved more than 5,000 acres (about 2023 hectares) in the Musquash Estuary and it is working on acquiring more land. 

This includes another 400 acres (about 161 hectares) in the Little Musquash Cove area.

"We are fundraising for the property down in Little Musquash Cove," Noel said.

"We've had a commitment by the J.T. Clark Family Foundation to match any donations to that project to the end of the year. That's a great opportunity, for that should lead to us succeeding in protecting that 400 acres."

Noel said the next step is to hold a public meeting to discuss what the community wants for the future of the protected area.

"We really wanted to talk with the community about how this protected area is being used, how they'd like to see it be used," said Noel.

A public meeting for people interested in the issue or living in the area is expected to be held in the new year. A meeting planned for Monday was cancelled because of the weather.

With files from Information Morning Saint John