Nova Scotia

Lighthouse near Lockeport at risk of collapsing, group says

Drone photographer Larry Peyton hopes to photograph the Gull Rock Lighthouse near Lockeport, N.S., before winter, in case it collapses in a storm. The lighthouse, built in the 1850s, is quickly deteriorating, which worries the community.

Drone photographer Larry Peyton hopes photos will encourage move to save lighthouse built in the 1850s

Gull Rock Lighthouse off Lockeport, N.S. is deteriorating, say community members. (Supplied by Becky Williams)

A lighthouse perched on a rock off Nova Scotia's South Shore may not last the winter, community members say.

The Gull Rock lighthouse near Lockeport is crumbling with age, says the Protect Gull Rock Lighthouse group,

"We could have a few good storms and it could go," group member Becky Williams said Saturday. "It's salvageable, but it's going to take funding."

The community doesn't have funding organized, she said. For now she hopes a drone photographer from Fall River, N.S., can take photos of the lighthouse this fall, weather permitting, to capture what's left.

It's a bit of a tricky task in an area with high winds, photographer Larry Peyton said.

"I have to be very particular on the day I choose to get it as calm as possible," Peyton said. "Getting around the island is absolutely no problem. Landing on the island may be a different ball game."

When postal codes were introduced in the 1970s, they were announced using a poster with a photo of Gull Rock Lighthouse. Becky Williams's father was then the post master in the town of Lockeport. (Supplied by Becky Williams)

Peyton decided around Labour Day he'd photograph around 175 lighthouses in Nova Scotia to document the history deteriorating along the coasts, he said.

The one on Gull Rock is a bit more urgent, he said.

"It's very sad to see the condition it's in and it needs help to be saved," Peyton said.

"In its day, it looked like such a beautiful structure and we forget that there were families raised in these lighthouses."

A forgotten lifestyle

Shirley Ringer's husband, Bill, grew up in the Gull Rock Lighthouse. His father was a lighthouse keeper and all of his 10 children grew up in the house built in the 1850s that still sits on the bare stone island about an hour's boat ride from shore. 

"You wouldn't be able to take your eyes off of them if they were outside, that's for sure," Ringer said. 

"You've got a lot of jagged rocks there. I'm sure it wouldn't take much for them to fall — or fall in the ocean."

The house is shaped like home, rather than the traditional tall, thin lighthouse like the one at Peggy's Cove.

(Supplied by Becky Williams)

Bill followed in his father's footsteps and worked as a keeper for two decades, Ringer said. Their family didn't live on the island, she said, and instead he worked away a month at a time. 

In the summers she would watch the lighthouse from the Lockeport beach.

"Just imagine somebody being out there in a hurricane or something," Ringer said. "There's no way to get off. You're there to stay, regardless of the what the weather's like."

Once during a hurricane, the sea swelled high enough to break the lighthouse's windows, she said. 

It's a lifestyle worth remembering, but she's worried it may be forgotten if the lighthouse slips into the sea.

"It's so sad to just see it falling to pieces," Ringer said.

"Just in a matter of time, it's going to be gone completely."

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