Nova Scotia

Gabarus village wins provincial community spirit award

The fishing village of Gabarus will be recognized with an award from Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Brigadier-General J.J. Grant.

Residents rally to save seawall, move threatened lighthouse

Florence Nygaard with the community's 125-year-old lighthouse in the background. (George Mortimer/CBC)

The tiny fishing village of Gabarus, Cape Breton, will be recognized with an award from Nova Scotia Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant.

The community has been told it's won the community spirit award, with an official announcement expected soon. 

The award is presented annually to communities that promote citizen engagement, civic pride and a positive outlook on the future.

Small but mighty

Florence Nygaard led a community group that worked on the application.

She says the people of Gabarus are passionate about their community.

"We're only 78 [people], if that even, but it's a very small village and yet people are involved and those that are involved usually are involved in three or four projects." 

Gene Kersey, Florence Nygaard, Pat Cooke, Tim Menk and Janet McGillen. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Janet McGillen and her husband Peter moved to Gabarus from Toronto. She calls it a very special place.

"This is a community of heart," she said. "Everybody just puts heart and soul into the whole community, whatever's needed.

"This is a 300-year-old fishing village and there aren't a lot of them around, and we want to keep it vibrant. "

In recent years, people in Gabarus fought for a replacement for the community's aging seawall, and to get government permission to move its lighthouse, which was at risk of falling into the sea because of erosion.

Beauty and spirit

Tim Menk moved to Gabarus from the United States.

He was one of the many people who worked for a new seawall.

Menk says the community's scenic beauty is matched only by the strong spirit of its inhabitants.

"Imagine a place at the end of a dead-end provincial road that ends at the Atlantic Ocean, with 10,000 acres of wilderness at your backyard and a great bay of the North Atlantic as your front yard," he said.

"But it's not the scenery that makes the place. It's the people who are here, both the people who have been here for generations, and the new people who have come in, who have energized some of the residents to become involved, to conserve this special place." 

A ceremony to receive the community spirit award from the lieutenant-governor will take place this summer to coincide with Gabarus's 300th anniversary celebrations.