THUNDER BAY - Beacons of light that once guided sailors through perilous waters will be shining again this summer, as a group dedicated to preserving historical lighthouses in the region prepares for another season.
The Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior is hoping to offer more opportunities for the public to visit and enjoy these historical landmarks.
“They belong to the public,” said Paul Capon, chair of board with the Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior. “They’ve paid for them over the last 150 years.”
The group of more than 60 members seeks to preserve, protect, and promote public access to Canadian lighthouses on Lake Superior. Three lighthouses are leased by CLLS from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which include Shaganash Island Lighthouse, Porphery Lighthouse, and Trowbridge Island Lighthouse.
The CLLS has been in operation for the past four years and in that time a lot of work has been completed on maintaining and restoring the light houses. But Capon said there is more work to be done.
“We’re going to be doing a bit more focus this year on Trowbridge Lighthouse,” he said. “We did trail work last year and we have to finish off some stair and docking work on that facility. And there is work on the house there that needs to be done.”
In keeping with sharing these lighthouses with the public, CLLS will once again be offering artist residency programs and summer placements for students.
Last year, two summer students worked at the lighthouses, interacting with the public, giving tours, and maintaining the grounds.
“They spend time as well on a project,” Capon said. “Last year, the two individuals did cataloguing of all the wild plants on the island and did a book for people to look at.”
The artist residency program, which provides artists with an opportunity to stay at one of the lighthouses for a one or two week term, is really gaining popularity, according to Capon, which he thinks has to do with the natural beauty of the area.
“I think you have a sense of serenity and beauty and just a chance to work in a setting that is not your normal setting,” he said. “It is a very quiet area. You really feel the beauty of Northwestern Ontario when you’re on those sites.”
Four people participated in the artist residency program last year and the CLLS are seeking four more this year in various artistic disciplines, including photographers, videographers, painters, and writers.
“The types of work people have done, surprisingly is very varied,” Capon said. “Each of them is unique and I think when you listen to the people who have done that work, they really found it to be quite enlightening.”
The CLLS will be hosting a fundraising dinner on May 5 at the Prince Arthur Hotel. The goal is to raise $5,000, which Capon said will be used to pay for basic support services such as insurance and maintenance as well as possibly providing easier access to the remote lighthouses.
“We want to start planning for broader transportation to these facilities,” he said. “One of the things our surveys and people that have talked to us said is they would really like to volunteer or visit if they had a boat. So our long-term goal is to get a boat to take people out to these facilities.”
For more information, visit the Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior website.