Nova Scotia

Peggys Cove lighthouse needs new owner

The future of the Peggys Cove lighthouse, a world-famous Nova Scotia landmark, is in jeopardy.
The Peggys Cove lighthouse has been declared surplus. (Hugh Chisholm)

The future of the world-famous Peggys Cove lighthouse is in jeopardy.

The Nova Scotia landmark is one of hundreds of lighthouses across the country that were declared surplus by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2010.

The surplus lighthouses are those the Canadian Coast Guard officials determined "could be replaced with simpler structures whose operation and maintenance would be more cost-effective," according to the DFO website.

It's up to individuals, municipalities and community non-profit groups to try to take over the surplus lighthouses through a petition to Parks Canada.

The new owner would be responsible for maintenance costs for the structure.

Barry MacDonald, president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, wants the province to take responsibility for the lighthouse.

"It's a light that has more purpose than just an aid of navigation," he said. "It's very much a focal point of not just a community but it's a tourism icon for the province of Nova Scotia."

John Campbell, owner of the Sou'wester Giftshop and Restaurant in Peggys Cove, said it's a busy spot, bustling with tourists year-round.

"We have one of the best locations, if not the best location in probably Atlantic Canada," he said. "The Peggys Cove lighthouse is Nova Scotia's icon, I think."

The Peggys Cove lighthouse draws half a million visitors every year, including Moritz Degott of Germany.

"My grandparents gave me a guide for Christmas, Degott said Sunday. "There's ... Peggys Cove [written] beside Toronto and Montreal."

This is his first visit to Nova Scotia.

"Comparing it with Montreal, it's smaller. But it's really nice."

Nova Scotia Tourism spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin said the province is talking to Ottawa about potentially taking over the lighthouse.

"It's an integral part of the landscape here and the province does have a great interest in preserving that," Gavin said.

"There [are] a number of things that would need to happen. There's still things like state of repair, legal surveys, things like that. The province is making sure the due diligence is done before we proceed."

The Peggys Cove lighthouse can be saved if someone with a petition and a business plan applies to have it declared a heritage property before May 29.

So far, there have been no takers.