In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cape Roseway Lighthouse

The best known feature of McNutt's Island is the Cape Roseway Light. This lighthouse was built in 1788. It was the third lighthouse built in all of Canada, after Louisbourg in 1733 and Sambro in 1758. The original light was built of locally cut stone and at some early point the exterior was clad with wooden clapboard. The first light keeper was Alexander Cocken, whose 1790 petition to the Legislative Assembly for payment of his salary can be read here.

The light station was the mainstay of a thriving island community throughout the nineteenth century and up until the 1940s, when Fort McNutt was built and nearly every island family moved to the mainland with the government's encouragement.

In 1959 the lighthouse suffered severe damage in a lightning strike and was replaced with a new structure. In 1984 the lighthouse was automated, ending nearly two hundred years of light keepers. Elizabeth Hyde noted in her journal that on May 6, 1985 the coast guard helicopter crossed over and back, dangling huge nets full of goods directly overhead, about two dozen times. And so the last lightkeeper, Robert Croft, left the island.

But history does not segment so neatly. The lightkeeper for the twenty years preceding Croft was Harry Van Buskirk and the assistant was Barry Crowell. The connection of the Van Buskirks and the Crowells to McNutt's Island continues to this day, and they are a collective well of island lore.

In 1942 A. J. Gough was stationed at Fort McNutt. He took photographs of the lighthouse and of Cape Roseway on which it was built. These photographs are of Cape Roseway itself and of the original lighthouse, built in 1788 and destroyed in 1959.

These images belong to the family of A.J. Gough and are used here by permission.

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