YARMOUTH – A volunteer organization long associated with the Cape Forchu lighthouse is undergoing change this year.
Details are still being hammered out between the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society and the Municipality of Yarmouth with regard to roles at the most popular tourist destination in the area.
The Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society are being directed to step aside and let Yarmouth Acadian Shores Tourism Association (YASTA) – a partnership of three municipal councils – run the facility to promote not only the Yarmouth Light but also the Leif Erikson trail and Cape Forchu in general.
The Friends society, composed of a small group of volunteers, has worked most recently on indoor improvements, along with many other projects at the light station. It’s also applied for student grants to fund giftshop staff and museum guides.
Municipality of Yarmouth councillor Loren Cushing has been a member of the Friends’ board for many years and says its volunteers are highly respected.
“They are well recognized by the community for their efforts,” he says.
“I do know that they were under a lot of pressure of trying to get things done, there was a lot of work for the volunteers,” he adds.
“I think personally, from what I can see, they have a great opportunity to move forward to increase memberships, increase more awareness of the lighthouse,” Cushing says. “I think it’s an opportunity for them to really grow and have some of the heavy lifting taken off their backs and let YASTA do their job.”
He adds that he knew the first organizers of the Friends group and he believes they would be very satisfied in the direction being taken now.
Friends president Janet Emin says working to improve the site is like a passion for most of the volunteers.
“We’re trying to figure out a happy medium where we can stay on and maybe take care of the giftshop and museum and if they want to take over the property and the bills and the maintenance inside, we’re fine with that,” she says.
Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society history
The Friends have been part of the lighthouse’s history since 1994, when it contacted the Canadian Coast Guard and requested proper documentation and guidance to lease the lightstation.
On March 15 of that same year, a lease was finally signed between the Yarmouth County Tourist Association and the Coast Guard to turn the lightkeeper's dwelling into a museum, which would be operated by the Friends.
In May of 1996, the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society opened for the summer.
in 2001, Cape Forchu Lightstation became the first lighthouse property in the history of Canada to be turned over by the Canadian government and saved. Chris Perry, the warden at the time, accepted, on behalf of the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth, the transfer of the property, and, in turn, the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society were given the role of caretakers of the site.