Yarmouth: Summer of improvements planned for Cape Forchu Light

Carla Allen callen@thevanguard.ca
Published on March 4, 2016

YARMOUTH: Visitors to the Cape Forchu lighthouse this summer will likely see lots of scaffolding, and renovations underway.

A glance at the main building’s exterior this winter shows the work is much needed, with peeling paint and rust stains evident from nails.

The Municipality of Yarmouth’s director of public works, Derek Sutherland, outlined plans for the building at a recent committee of the whole meeting.

“As many are aware, time and weather is not friendly to the site and buildings,” he said. “We are working on using materials, finishes and/or products that will provide the longevity that is needed for the location.”

Tenders are being prepared but first consultant input is part of the research for the work.

The lighthouse tower and main building were last painted in 2008. At that time, the municipality undertook resurfacing and maintenance on the tower, and corrective maintenance to stabilize the main museum building.

Work under consideration for 2016 includes: roofing, replacing soffits, trims, re-shingling the complete building, as well as replacing/repairing casings and windows if needed.

As the building has heritage status, all work will be in conjunction with guidelines and standards that apply.

Elsewhere on the property a water storage tank will be installed to help offset shortage during dry weather and the demand on the existing wells and to maintain an adequate and ready supply of water for the new public washrooms.

In conjunction with the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society, the municipality is renovating the original fog alarm building near the base of the tower to place the original DCB-36 lens on display.

Last year the Cape Forchu lighthouse was voted to third place in the This Lighthouse Matters contest and received $25,000 in prize money towards the project.

Society chair Gert Sweeney says it’s important for people to see the massive lens that once operated there. The display will be interactive and motorized so visitors can press a modified light and see the lens turn.

“We want to create a destination that people won’t just spend 20 minutes at. We’d like for them to spend half a day experiencing all the things that are around the lighthouse,” she said.

She added that these are large projects to undertake and the Friends hope the public will continue to support the lighthouse.


Illuminating facts about the Cape Forchu lighthouse property

The Cape has welcomed visitors since 1604, when Samuel de Champlain landed and named the area “Cap Forchu.”

The light in the original tower was lit on Jan. 15, 1840. The first lighting apparatus was a kerosene lamp.

The existing lighthouse was erected in 1962 at a cost of $66,000.

On June 1, 2000, the property became the first operating lightstation in Canadian history to be transferred to a municipality.

The Municipality of the District of Yarmouth, through a property lease, entrusted the care of the site to the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society.