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Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society

In the early 1990s, it became apparent that lighthouses in many parts of the world were going to become a thing of the past because of new satellite technology. Many lightkeepers were going to be eliminated and the sites decommissioned. For centuries, these lighthouses were vital navigational aids, but they were very important to the history, culture, and tourism of many communities. For that reason, a small group of concerned local citizens gathered together to try to keep alive the spirit of Cape Forchu Light and honour its contribution to the historic town of Yarmouth and surrounding areas.

The fear that the Cape Forchu Lightstation would be bulldozed and closed to the public was enough to persuade some people to act immediately. Nancy Knowles, an executive on the Yarmouth County Tourist Association (YCTA), under Director Barrie McGreggor and the board, was appointed to stay "on top of things" with regard to the uncertainty of the future of the Lightstation at Cape Forchu. It was at that time that Nancy came up with the name "Friends of the Yarmouth Light." With the board's approval, a steering committee was formed with Nancy as Chair. The original Friends of the Yarmouth Light committee consisted of Joan Jenkins, Joan Thibault, Mauritta Fevens, Linda Campbell, and Dawn-Marie Skjelmose, all of whom worked with dedication and enthusiasm.

Gardens at the Cape Forchu Lightstation

Canadian Coast Guard Ship

In 1994, the group made contact with the Canadian Coast Guard and requested proper documentation and guidance to lease the lightstation. There was no response from the Coast Guard, so in January of 1995, door-to-door requests for assistance began. On March 15th of that same year, a lease was finally signed between the Yarmouth County Tourist Association and the Coast Guard to turn the lightkeeper's dwelling into a museum, which would be operated by the Friends. In May of 1996, the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society opened for the summer season with a salute from the Canadian Coast Guard as they passed by in Yarmouth Harbour.

The first public meeting of Friends of the Yarmouth Light was held at the Yarmouth County Museum on January 17, 1996 and was attended by approximately 30 people. The group discussed what direction should be taken to save this site. The first task was to communicate, through the YCTA, with the Canadian Coast Guard. Years of effort and negotiations followed, with Cape resident Craig Harding in the position of President of the Board of Directors. As happens with any crusade, there were ups and downs, and many frustrations during the initial years until – finally – in 2001, Cape Forchu Lightstation became the first lighthouse property in the history of Canada to be turned over by the Canadian Government and saved. Warden Chris Perry proudly accepted, on behalf of the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth, the transfer of this property, and, in turn, the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society were proud to be given the role of caretakers of the site.

Sadly, Mr. Harding passed away in early 2001, but days before his passing he was presented with the paperwork of the official transfer by representatives of the Canadian Coast Guard, the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth, and local MLA Richard Hurlburt. Craig's efforts and hard work had indeed been successful! The Coast Guard said the transfer of a working Canadian lighthouse would likely have never happened without the perseverance of Craig Harding and Gert Sweeney, Vice President of the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society.

Craig Harding

Craig Harding

Thanks to the love and dedication of the Friends of the Yarmouth Light, the lightstation has become the wonderful site that it is today. This registered non-profit society, with the help of local levels of government and countless hours of work by dedicated volunteers, has helped maintain an important cultural and historical site. Today, the light continues to operate as a tourist attraction, with thousands of visitors enjoying this wonderful place every year.

The Friends, along with summer employees and many dedicated volunteers, finally opened a museum in what was once the lightkeeper's dwelling. In 1999, two look-offs were added in order to allow visitors to watch the majestic sea and unforgettable sunsets. Onsite amenities, such as stairs and public washroom facilities, were also added to enhance the property. On May 27th, 2006, the Lightstation opened its doors for the season with a new addition, the Mug Up Tea Room, located in the lightkeeper's original dining room.

The Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society think of themselves as the current lightkeepers of the Cape Forchu Lightstation and, through a property lease from the Municipality of Yarmouth, are still constantly working to improve this historical landmark while ensuring that its original beauty remains. It is because of their dedication and that of a spirited community that the light still shines.

Mission Statement - Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society

"To preserve this historical landmark as a heritage property and tourist attraction"

Board Members

President: Janet Emin
Vice President: Dave Warner
Secretary: Liz Noble

Director (Municipality of Yarmouth Representative): Loren Cushing
Past President: Patti Durkee

Director: Lise Mood
Director: Patti Durkee
Director: Linda Cain