Lighthouses in Canada

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The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, was passed in 2010, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada declared surplus status for 970 lighthouses. Local groups have petitioned to preserve 348 of those and submitted 154 business plans for alternate uses. Five years later, only 16 lighthouses had been designated heritage sites by Parks Canada, currently responsible for the Coast Guard. In May 2015, it was announced that 74 lighthouses will receive heritage status, with 32 to be transferred to local groups or governments. [The Ottawa Citizen June 2, 2015]

The CCG is phasing out manned lighthouses in favor of electronic navigation using GPS and electronic charts for a simple reason - it costs $126,000 to maintain a manned lighthouse and $26,000 for a solar-powered automated lighthouse. Few commercial mariners use foghorns or radio direction beacons in determining position. The loss of lighthouse keepers to assist and save lives is lost. Tankers in Canadian waters use mandatory electronic chart systems (1997). Other ships will voluntarily use electronic charting. The need for visual aids has almost disappeared for commercial traffic. The Coast Guard started an Alternative Use Program for lighthouses no longer needed for CCG operations in an attempt to maintain their heritage value, by transferring them (and their maintenance) to local or provincial authorities.

If your organization or town wishes to open a Bed & Breakfast, cafe, tourist bureau, library, playhouse or town hall, contact the CCG as soon as possible, while these historic structures are still in good condition.

From "Stargazing: Memoirs of a Lighthouse Keeper" by Peter Hill.
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Of his first night on the job at the lighthouse, Hill writes, “I lay in my bed thinking about the wind, trying to visualize its different nuances and strengths. I curled up in a tight foetal position, gripping Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, and drifted towards sleep: ‘There are four winds and eight sub-winds, each with its own color. The wind from the east is a deep purple, from the south a fine shining silver. the north wind is a hard black and the west is amber. People in the old days had the power of perceiving these colors…’” Stargazing gives the reader the ability to capture -- however momentarily -- the magic of perceiving the colors of the wind. Hill writes indulgently of his coming-of-age summer on the lighthouses. One can see both the distance that he has gained from his earlier perspective and, just as importantly, his fondness for his younger self...
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