New Brunswick’s Cape Jourimain Lighthouse moved due to erosion concerns
The Cape Jourimain Lighthouse in New Brunswick has been threatened by coastal erosion for years. However, after a two-day effort, it’s found a new home.
On Wednesday, it was raised off its old foundation to be moved about 60 metres or 200 feet inland – away from the eroding coastline.
The lighthouse has been a popular symbol for the picturesque province since it was built in 1869. It closed in 1997 when the Confederation Bridge opened, but it’s still drawing in locals and visitors.
“The one thing we get asked about most is the lighthouse,” says Paul Bogaard of the Cape Jourimain board of directors. “We get asked even more than the bridge.”
For the past 15 years, the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre has fought for control of the lighthouse, something it finally achieved last fall when the federal government designated it under the Lighthouse Heritage Act.
“We really figured we only had another three or four years left of the lighthouse,” says Bogaard. “That was three or four years ago.”
When the lighthouse was first built 148 years ago, it was nearly 400 feet further out to sea. It’s been moved three times since it was built, with shoreline erosion forcing it further inland each time.
“We’re experiencing about one to three feet of erosion this year on this point,” says education outreach coordinator Andrew MacKinnon. “In some years, especially out towards Gunning Point on the other end of the island, we’ve had between four to ten feet of erosion a year.”
“Since the bridge was constructed, that’s shifted the areas of the shoreline that have eroded most from one location to another,” says Bogaard.
Now that the lighthouse has been moved to its new foundation, the centre can begin plans for restoration, with hopes of installing an interpretive centre on its main floor, honouring one of Canada’s longest serving lighthouse keeping families.
“There were four generations of lighthouse keepers here from the same family, the Bent family,” says MacKinnon. “There was John, Arthur, Arthur, and Arthur. It makes it really easy to keep the lighthouse keepers straight!”
The centre now turns its attention to fundraising for the renovation. For those who’ve worked towards Wednesday’s move for decades, the task won’t be complete until a new light shines across the waters of the Northumberland Strait.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke