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Group hoping to see progress soon to preserve Caribou lighthouse

The Caribou Island lighthouse stands as a single structure now that a lower building has been removed. A community group is working with the federal government, coast guard and municipality in hopes of taking over control of it so that it can be made to look more attractive for the public and Caribou Island residents.
The Caribou Island lighthouse stands as a single structure now that a lower building has been removed. A community group is working with the federal government, coast guard and municipality in hopes of taking over control of it so that it can be made to look more attractive for the public and Caribou Island residents.

The winds of change are slow for a community group wanting to take control of the Caribou lighthouse.

Corey Matheson, a summer resident on Caribou Island, said he and Caribou Island resident Dane Grant are hoping the lighthouse can eventually be turned over to their group, but right now they would be thankful just to see it painted.

“It is a slow process, I know that,” said Matheson. “People are getting antsy about the whole things because it seems nothing has been done. Initially we had hoped to have it painted for July 1st, but I don’t think that is going to happen.”

The Caribou Island Lighthouse, still used as a navigational aid, is under the control of the federal government while the Canadian Coast Guard takes care of the light.

In 2010 the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act came in to effect after being passed by the federal government two years earlier. On that same day, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made a public list of surplus lighthouses that included Caribou Island.

Matheson and Grant, who formed Friends of the Caribou Lighthouse, had made a pitch to the Municipality of the County of Pictou about taking over control with the thought that the group would eventually operate it as a park area.

Typically, Matheson said, he has been told that the coast guard prefers to divest lighthouses to municipalities rather than community groups because there is always a chance that a group will run low on volunteers and disband.

“We would like to see it go to the municipality and have our group look after it,” he said, adding if this happened the group would look into grant money and fundraise to help make the site more attractive to visitors.

“The ultimate goal is to fix up the lighthouse, plant some grass and maybe have some picnic tables there. We want to turn the spot around. There has been no money spent on the site (in years) and we want to bring it back up.”

Matheson said he has approached the coast guard about painting the building, but is waiting on word about his request. He said the coast guard demolished the lower section of the lighthouse last year because it had concerns about asbestos in the building, but it left the standing tower looking worse than before.

The lighthouse is a busy spot in the summer months, he said, because many people from the island as well as Pictou County residents and tourists visit the point for a scenic drive.

“There is a lot of support in the community.”

Matheson said he isn’t sure if much will be done this year because it is getting close to summer, but the group would like to see some work done for the 150th anniversary of a lighthouse being on the island.

 

Caribou lighthouse

Body of water: Caribou Channel

County: Pictou

Region: Northumberland Shore

Scenic Drive: Sunrise Trail

Height Above Water: 44 ft.

Characteristic: Flashing white (1992)

Still standing and still operational

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