Lost light com­ing home

Find will help Town of Clark’s Har­bour cel­e­brate its 100th an­niver­sary


It’s go­ing to be pretty hard for any­one to top this 100th an­niver­sary present to the Town of Clark’s Har­bour.

A long lost light from the Cape Sable Light­house that was found in an old govern­ment build­ing on the water­front in Saint John, N.B. is be­ing re­turned to Cape Sable Is­land where it will be as­sem­bled and given a new home in the Sea­side Her­itage Cen­ter in Clark’s Har­bour.

The light is a 3rd or­der Fres­nel lens that would have lit the way home for mariners from 1902 through to the 1980s on both the orig­i­nal Cape Sable Light­house that was built in 1861 and its re­place­ment built in the early 1920s and is still op­er­a­tional.

The light, its base and its mech­a­nisms and other me­chan­i­cal equip­ment were found in 19 crates in an old govern­ment build­ing on the water­front in Saint John. On the crates were writ­ten Cape Sable Is­land main light.

Joe Flem­ming, pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia Light­house Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety, said he had never heard of the light be­ing miss­ing un­til Ralph Holyoke from the City of Saint John gave him a call one night and told him about the crates.

“He sent me some pic­tures, so I sent them off to a cou­ple of light­house ex­perts … they re­sponded with we can’t be­lieve this has been found. It’s been elud­ing us for decades. We of­ten had an idea of where it might be, or heard ru­mors where it might be, but al­ways ran into a dead end and were never able to lo­cate it,” he said. “When I re­al­ized how ex­cited they were about it, I re­al­ized I bet­ter get ex­cited.”

Flem­ming went to have a look, find­ing the 19 crates plus other me­chan­i­cal equip­ment that holds and sup­ports the lens, still un­packed from their trek across the Bay of Fundy decades ago.

“It’s very rare to find all this to­gether,” he said. “The city man­agers of Saint John wanted it re­moved as soon as pos­si­ble but they didn’t want it to go in the wrong hands and get sold. They wanted it to be some place where it would be ap­pre­ci­ated so that’s why they reached out to us.

“Once we knew what it was we de­cided let’s con­tact the Mayor of Clark’s Har­bour and see if he would want it and he does,” said Flem­ming.

The tim­ing couldn’t have been bet­ter. With 2019 mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the town, Flem­ming said, “It’s the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to repa­tri­ate it back to Nova Sco­tia and bring it back to where it be­longs.”

For Mayor Leigh Stod­dart the gift of the light was a sur­prise.

“I didn’t know it was even in ex­is­tence ac­tu­ally,” he said, un­til he was con­tacted by Flem­ming. “When he asked if we were in­ter­ested I said cer­tainly. It would be fit­ting for us where its our 100th an­niver­sary. It would be great to have it back.”

Mayor Stod­dart said he is hop­ing the his­toric light is go­ing to be the cat­a­lyst to get the Sea­side Her­itage Cen­ter open and op­er­a­tional again, espe­cially for the 100th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions next year. The cen­ter has not been open for a few years.

“We want to re-as­sem­ble it at the Sea­side Her­itage Cen­ter. I think that will be a good spot for it,” he said.

Mayor Stod­dart said the light will be trans­ported to the town, per­haps as soon as this week. It is presently in se­cured stor­age.

Flem­ming said the Nova Sco­tia Light­house Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety will give the Town all the sup­port they need to get the light back to­gether.

“What’s unique about these lights is there re­ally are no two alike. It’s safe to say that there are prob­a­bly only one or two peo­ple left in Canada who have ever put one of these things to­gether,” Flem­ming said.

“Typ­i­cally they were as­sem­bled back in the 1920s or ear­lier and most of those peo­ple are gone. Find­ing the ex­per­tise is very dif­fi­cult,” he added. “We’re hop­ing be­tween the re­sources we have here that we will be able to do it, but we may have to reach out to peo­ple in the U.S. who still op­er­ate this type of light.”

Flem­ming said he thinks it will be quite a project.

“It’s not go­ing to hap­pen overnight,” but in the end, he said, it’s “go­ing to be an in­cred­i­ble piece for Clark’s Har­bour.”

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