Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2018

Efforts Underway To Save McNeil Beach Lighthouse - But Will It Be Too Late?

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Courtesy Jeremy Fraser.

Last restored in 2005, the McNeil Beach Lighthouse is again in danger of being lost forever.

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Vintage post card of McNeil Beach Lighthouse. ...

Located on the north side of Boularderie Island, Great Bras d’Or Channel, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the lighthouse was built in 1909 to replace a light mounted atop a pole attached to a small white shed. However, with the completion of the Seal Island Bridge in 1961, the lighthouse became obsolete.

A few years later, the Canadian Coast Guard sold the lighthouse for $250 to Mr. Keilor Bentley who originally was going to use it as a summer home. In 1998, he donated the lighthouse to Nova Scotia’s Acadia University. In 2005, with the help of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, the lighthouse was restored. However, the University really did not want the lighthouse, and its ownership reverted back to Mr. Bentley. Upon his death, the ownership of the lighthouse went to his daughter Jean Laing.

According to Ron Stewart, the former Minister of Health of Nova Scotia, who is leading a local community group to save the lighthouse, Jean Laing was unaware that the lighthouse was in danger because the last time she was there was in 2007, and it was still in good shape then.

However, nothing can be done to save the lighthouse until it is transferred to a nonprofit that is willing to take on the project. Stewart said that Jean Laing is willing to donate the lighthouse to a group that would be willing and able to take the project; a project that will likely cost thousands of dollars.

However, saving the lighthouse will require more than your typical restoration. In this case, it will require moving the lighthouse back from the eroding shoreline or installing some type of rock abatement to stop the erosion from undermining the foundation. Right now the foundation is about 30 feet from the water’s edge.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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