Prince Edward County's Marc Seguin , a founding member of the Organization "Save our Lighthouses" has had a life long interest in Canadian history and has a passion for Canada's built heritage. "Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the fascinating past, but the uncertain future of lighthouses in this area of Lake Ontario," he said at a gathering of the Wolfe Island Historical Society. The Township of Frontenac Islands-Simcoe Island is home to the Nine Mile Point Lighthouse.
In his presentation Marc said the Main Duck Island Lighthouse, built in 1914 was the last of 40 built on Lake Ontario. "This was perhaps the greatest concentration of lighthouses constructed anywhere in the world, and each of them has a story to tell in our history, about who we are and where we have been," he said. "Now there are only seven and many of these are threatened." He pointed out architectural differences, and types of construction, (height, octagonal, number of lamps, cement, wood, steel plate etc.) of the lighthouses built in the 1800-1900's as well as the many variables and dangers to the navigation of Lake Ontario including a lack of charts, and magnetic compass problems.
Seguin noted that these lighthouses played a key role in the history of Canada at a time when transportation by water was vital for the economy, long term growth and survival of the country. Now, however, with modern equipment and modern navigation technology, "lighthouses have been relegated to a back up position at best," he said.
He presented a fascinating history of the many lighthouses that stretched from Kingston Harbour to Presqu'ile Point, why they were built, about the perils of ships guided by them, and why their lights were so important to Canada then, to what they have been replaced with now.
In the final period of his presentation, Seguin focused on the last lighthouses, those declared surplus, or of heritage value and Simcoe Island's 40 foot, Nile Mile Point Light House (built in 1833), and their preservation. "Parks Canada has no intention of acquiring anymore lighthouses," he quoted from them. With regard to Nine Mile Point, he said it is the oldest longest continuously active lighthouse in the Great Lakes, "a national treasure" that should be preserved. "It is doable," he said.
It was suggested the township had rejected a request for assistance in preserving the lighthouse made by the Preservation of the Nine Mile Point Lighthouse committee. As the Q&A began, Mayor Doyle, who was in the audience, clarified the townships position. "We never refused to assist the group," he said. "What came to council was a report from our (then acting) CAO commenting on the group's business plan and recommending that we take a serious look at it because, in his opinion it would cost the township $20,000 a year to keep the lighthouse going, and possible environmental issues. While I doubt it would be that much, that's where it stands now. We have not heard from them but the discussion is still OPEN. We now have a new CAO ," he said.
Simcoe Island's Yelda Miedema, from the Preservation committee, said he is aware of the May 2015 deadline when decisions will be made on preservation of selected lighthouses noting two business plans for the lighthouse." Ours was not considered satisfactory by the Heritage committee because it does not state that the township would be the principal owner," he said. "We are incorporating as a charitable organization so we can raise funds. We would love to have the township involved, but if not, we hope to move ahead."
Marc was very encouraging that the committee is moving fast. He also suggested a petition to the Federal Government through the local MP (but not for money) for preservation of history. He is writing a history of Eastern Ontario Light Houses.
2. Frontenac Islands council has completed deliberations with regard to the preparation of the township's 2014 budget. A by-law to adopt the budget will be passed at the regular monthly meeting of council, on Wolfe Island, Monday, May 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm. The agenda will be posted on the website.
3. Camino Santiago: Deputy Mayor David Jones and his wife Wendy have been on a Walking Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. A progress report from them indicates they had walked with their team 750kms from St Jean Pied au Port in the south of France to Melide, Spain, and were 50kms from their ultimate goal...Santiago de Compostela, Spain, expecting to enter the city on Tuesday, Apr 29th.
Around Town: * The Howe Island Rate Payers and the Township, wish to thank the volunteers who participated in the island Pitch-In campaign, this past weekend. A special thanks to those who pick up, as part of their daily walk. * Marysville Public School is proud to announce its 60th anniversary! Keep this date Open June 14, 1-3pm, with a formal welcome at 2pm. More to follow.
Coming Events: *WI United Church Fish Fry, Sat. May 17th Adults $13.50 and Children $6.50.Doors open at 4:30 pm *Register for the July 6th WI Classic ON LINE at the Running Room. * WI Community Garden Open House May 9th WI Community Hall 5:30-7:30 pm.