Maritime mystery: Historic light missing from N.S. lighthouse found in N.B.
Published Friday, October 26, 2018 3:30PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, October 26, 2018 3:31PM ADT
After almost four decades, a Maritime mystery involving a long-lost lighthouse light has been solved, and the light that disappeared years ago is now on its way back to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick.
There has been a lighthouse on Cape Sable Island since the 1860s, but, like many seaside sentinels, it became automated in the 1980s.
The old light and all of its parts seemed to disappear after they were removed from the lighthouse, and many gave up hope that they would ever be found.
However, Saint John resident Ralph Holyoke remained optimistic that the light would turn up somewhere, and he started to dig around.
Holyoke’s digging eventually led him to the former Canadian Coast Guard building, which now sits vacant in Saint John. At the end of several dark corridors, priceless pieces of the old Cape Sable Island lighthouse were recently found in large wooden crates.
“A few people obviously knew it was around, but I started poking at them and making some inquiries as to what was going to happen, and nobody seemed to want to take responsibility for it,” says Holyoke.
Cape Sable Island is located off the far western tip of mainland Nova Scotia, roughly 254 kilometres from Saint John if you were to travel via car and ferry.
According to local folklore, the wooden crates were sent to Saint John as part of a swap -- Nova Scotia received an old fire engine while Saint John was gifted the old Cape Sable Island light.
“Hopefully it will be significantly intact,” says Holyoke. “It appears that most everything is there, including the foghorn that sat outside for many years.”
“It has all the other mechanical pieces to go with it which, again, it’s not the sort of thing you typically find,” says Joe Flemming of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime find.”
The light and all its parts have spent their last day in Saint John and are now headed for the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, where experts will try to restore the pieces and put them back together.
“There are very few people that would know how to put this back together, which is why we have a team of experts from the museum, as well as lightkeepers who have seen this and worked with these, who will come and piece it together,” says Flemming.
Flemming says the discovery has come at the perfect time, as the Cape Sable Island town of Clarks Harbour celebrates its 100th anniversary.
“To have this one just kind of show up and come back into the picture on the 100th anniversary of Clarks Harbour, this is pretty special,” he says.
Once the long-lost light is restored, it will be returned to its original home on Cape Sable Island.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron