Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2011

Legalized Vandalism Destroys Lighthouse

By Timothy Harrison


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Fisherman’s Harbor Lighthouse was a small humble ...
Photo by: Bob Crawford

In a legalized act of vandalism the Canadian Coast Guard has destroyed Nova Scotia’s 106 year-old Fisherman’s Harbour Lighthouse.

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The demolition of Fisherman’s Harbor Lighthouse.
Photo by: Edward Langille

First reports indicated that the Canadian Coast Guard burned the structure, as horrified locals watched from afar. However, Dave Smith, a spokesman for the Canadian Coast Guard was quoted in the Guysborough Journal newspaper as saying,” We did not burn it. We dismantled it. We put it into a truck.” This statement could give one the impression that they saved as much of the structure as possible so it could perhaps be rebuilt somewhere else. As you can easily see in the photograph a bulldozer was used to most likely pull the structure and it came crashing to the ground and for all practical purposes was literally destroyed. The newspaper article went on to say there was a small fire, which was actually the debris left from the lighthouse that was burned after the lighthouse was hauled away. This has to be the biggest amount of double talk we’ve ever heard. No matter how you look at, or how others explain it, this was the absolute and pure destruction of a lighthouse.

Smith went on to say that the Canadian Coast Guard had consulted with Barry MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society and told him of their intentions. He said the lighthouse was in bad shape and the foundation was rotten. Smith said, “When it comes to maintenance we don’t have a mandate for history, but for the safety of mariners.” Apparently they also don’t have a mandate for common sense.

We wonder what the cost involved was of having a work crew show up with a bulldozer and helicopter to destroy the historic lighthouse and install a modern ugly erector-set style of beacon in its place? Smith said “We do realize the historical value of these buildings. That was not the lighthouse that had been standing there 100 years ago. To build a new light and a new foundation would have cost more money. We have many lights to maintain and from time to time we end up in this circumstance. This type of light that was at Fisherman’s Harbour was very common, so the historical value was not significant in respect to being a one-of-a-kind lighthouse.”

All we can say is, “Has he seen the other lighthouses in Nova Scotia and Canada? Many of them look extremely similar in design, but does that mean they should be destroyed rather than be maintained or saved? How many other similar looking lighthouses in Canada have been destroyed over the last ten years? Ask them. I wonder if they even know the answer. Also, many lighthouses in worse shape have been saved. Ask them why it had been neglected for so long? Just exactly how expensive could it have been to maintain this almost miniature lighthouse built from wood?

There seems to be a belief by many in both government and preservation circles that it’s perfectly okay to save only some of the lighthouses and let the others be destroyed. It’s like the battle plans of military leaders who believed and planned to sacrifice many soldiers in one area while a more important battle could be won elsewhere to win the war. Has that always been the case? Or are we just being too sentimental over one small lighthouse? Then of course we are reminded of the old saying, ‘It’s always easier to quit and walk away to live and fight another day.’ But, is it always the right thing to do? And, how long do you continue on that path before there is nothing left to fight for or nothing left to believe in?

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This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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