Lighthouse renos nearing completion
Cape Forchu visitors will have more realistic experience of being in a lightkeeper’s home
Along with the brisk salty breeze at the Cape Forchu lighthouse property is excitement over a massive refurbishment project.
Many improvements and enhancements have taken place this summer, including extensive repairs to the exterior of the main building. Soffits and trim have been replaced. The building has been reshingled. Casings, doors and windows have been replaced with attention to the building’s heritage.
“This has been needed for many years and it’s going to look awesome when finished,” said site and archives manager Jill Durkee.
Although scaffolding won’t be coming down until September, much of the interior work is complete. Work will continue through the off-season on the museum upstairs.
The building now has a theme focusing on the experience of being in a lightkeeper’s home. Carpet has been removed from gift shop and replaced with beautifully stained hardwood.
“We have all these old artifacts, and carpets just suck up the moisture. It’s not a good combination,” said Durkee. Almost everything in the gift shop is made by local artisans. More artifacts have been added, including relics from shipwrecks. Durkee says there were 98 shipwrecks of vessels approaching Cape Forchu in Yarmouth Sound. Yarmouth was the second biggest shipping port in Canada in the 1800s.
“We’re gathering photographs and newspaper articles for a collage of shipwreck incidents to illustrate the impact,” said Durkee.
The lightkeeper’s bedroom and a room dedicated to what the Yarmouth tourism experience was like in the 1800s will be featured.
The new Keepers Kitchen serves up cold lobster rolls with salads, sweets, chowder and other items. Picnics prepared on site are encouraged. A takeout window will be added in the future.
The fog alarm building near the base of the tower is where the lighthouse’s original DCB-36 lens is now on display. Visitors can press a but- ton to make the light revolve against a night-sky backdrop. The lighthouse keeper’s workshop is also part of this museum, with a challenging inventory of tools to identify.
The Municipality of Yarmouth directed $380,000 towards renovating the outside of the main building. The fog alarm lens project was funded by the win of $25,000 through the “This Place Matters” contest put on by Heritage Canada.
Interior renovations have benefitted from donations made to the Friends of the Yarmouth Light. The Keepers Kitchen operators funded their own renovations.
Cape Forchu lighthouse site and archives manager Jill Durkee looks over the tools in the lightkeeper’s workshop museum.