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Georgian Bay's Lighthouses are under siege


Georgian Bay Lighthouses are under siege

By Rock Hunter - Saturday January 28, 2012

Georgian Bay Lighthouses are now considered "surplus" by the Federal Government.  Not just old friends and reference points, but icons that represent entire communities could be lost. Lighthouses upon which communities have been built could be torn down, and replaced with cold steel structures.

Christian Island, Jones Island, Snug Harbour, Red Rock, Pointe-au-Baril, Gereaux Island, Bustard Rocks and Killarney Lighthouses[1] appear to be on the list. Residents of Canada however can nominate a lighthouse for designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act by forwarding a petition to the Heritage Lighthouse Program by May 29, 2012. As of January 20, 2012, ninety-five lighthouse have been nominated. Killarney East and Killarney Northwest have been nominated. Pointe-au-Baril is not on the list.

There appears to be good news for the Pointe-au-Baril Lighthouse however. Ken Williams, a Councilor with the Township of the Archipelago wrote, "...the Township of The Archipelago has leased the (Pointe-au-Baril) lighthouse for several years now.  Recently, the Federal Government instituted a process by which municipalities essentially get "right of first refusal" to acquire the lighthouses which are being abandoned.  The first step in this process was to get community support in the form of a signed petition. This was done last summer and the support to maintain the lighthouse (and the range light) in Pointe au Baril was overwhelming. We only needed 25 signatures but got many many more than that. That petition has since been forwarded to the federal government by the township.  According to the schedule provided we would expect to hear back from the federal government sometime this summer with details of next steps etc."

The minutes of the Pointe au Baril Islanders Association Annual General Meeting July 31, 2011 state, "The Township of the Archipelago (TOA) has been offered the Lighthouse for $1 and also the Range Light for $1. Petitions of support for both of these purchases were available for signing at the close of the meeting. If the purchase the Lighthouse and the Range Light is completed, all expenses related to its maintenance would be carried by TOA."

In spite of the Township's propensity to document agendas, meetings and minutes, there appears to be nothing on their website. Only information relating to the new lighthouse washroom to be  built at the Pointe-au-Baril Station. When queried Councilor Williams replied, "You're right there probably isn't much on the web site - something we've been struggling with ie: what info to post.   As you can see there isn't much we could say at this point, but I think the suggestion is a good one especially as more information becomes available."

So what's to become of all the rest of our beloved Georgian Bay Lighthouses? Let's get them nominated for designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act  before the deadline May 29, 2012. If the Townships and the Islanders Associations of the Bay are not getting the signatures, I am depending on the indignation of local Canadian citizens to get the job done. 

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