Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cape George Lighthouse

Cape George LighthouseIf you were on a boat near Cape George, Nova Scotia in the mid 1800's, you couldn't help but notice the lighthouse. And, if you did, you'd be in a bit of trouble!

In 1861, the first of three lighthouses were built to guide fishing boats around Cape George Point. This first lighthouse was powered with a ten foot diameter iron lantern, with eight sides and cut glass prisms that demanded 120 gallons of oil each year. Glass prisms from the second lighthouse where unique and rare in cut and are on display at the Bluefin Tuna Interpretation Centre, a few minutes down the road at Ballantyne's Cove wharf.

Cape George waterOver 107 years there were four lightkeepers. From the Condon family (1861) to Alex MacEachern (whose annual salary was $450), Charles Falkenham and finally William Clark (1968), they kept the lighthouse lit 24/7. Today, the lighthouse is automated and unmanned. The grounds are kept well by volunteers and there are a lot of picnic tables to eat your lunch, enjoy the view and snap pictures of St. George's Bay, PEI and Cape Breton. Interpretive panels are on site to learn more about the history of the area.

To get there, take route 337 which follows the shoreline through small fishing communities overlooking the Northumberland Strait. It's a beautiful drive.

Area information:

Arisaig: Part of the Mini Cabot Trail

Cape George Lighthouse

The Cape George Hiking Trail offers 33 kilometers of connected loops and linear sections.

Cape to Cape Trail Nova Scotia’s first long distance footpath traveling over 400 kilometers, all the way from Cape Chignecto in Cumberland County to Cape George in Antigonish County. It's under construction.

Arisaig: Part of The Mini Cabot Trail

ArisaigOn a warm spring day, my sister and I took a mini road trip to the "Mini Cabot Trail". Wouldn't it be cool if we were driving a mini?

The windy road comes to Arisaig (Ă€rasaig in Gaelic), a small village in along the Sunrise Trail on Route 245. This community was founded ca. 1785 by Scottish immigrants who named it after their former home, Arisaig, on the west coast of Scotland. This was the site of the earliest settlement made in Antigonish County by Highland Scots. Today, those roots are recognized in the highways signs that name each community both in Gaelic and English.

Arisaig lighthouseIn Arisaig, signs direct you to a lighthouse at the end of a point. At the lighthouse, interpretive signs circle its base that tell stories of the area. Like the 17th century story of "Frenchman's Barn" - when the crew of a French sailing ship thought a massive rock not far from shore was a building and ran aground.

This area is well-known in the province for its fossils. Interesting, eh? Arisaig rocks and fossils were deposited in a warm, shallow sea more than 200 million years - before dinosaurs (and this laptop) evolved! Many of the animals at Arisaig either lived attached to the sea floor or buried in the mud and silt below. There was not much life on land at that time, not even plants. Gosh, that would mean no chocolate either but who can live without chocolate anyway. Good thing I wasn't around. Just sayin'.

Arisaig rocksThe 4 kilometres of coastline from McArras Brook to Arisaig Point, including Arisaig Provincial Park, exposes 47 million years of earth history. This is not much in geological time - the Earth itself is older than 4.5 billion years. (Sorry Earth, I know it's a sensitive topic with you to talk about how old you are. Bad secret I guess.)

If you're Arisaig on a clear night, look across the water and you'll see the lights of PEI (30km across the Northumberland Straight). From that distance, they'd be "mini lights"...sorry, can't help myself.

Check out these links:



Sunrise trail map

Wikipedia: Arisaig