A History of Nova Scotia Page


Book #3: TOC
The Road To Being Canada
(1815-1867)
Chapter 26, Lighthouses

Lighthouses have been on the hard and rocky shores of Nova Scotia for long time. The first was erected by the French at Louisbourg in the years 1731-4. When the English finally arrived in force at Halifax in 1749, it was not long before the thoughts of the founders turned to building a lighthouse at the entrance of the harbour. In 1752, a Lottery was organized to build one, the Sambro Lighthouse. During the next 65 years more were built at strategic places in Nova Scotia. Beamish Murdoch brings the matter up to date, as of 1817:

"Among the marks of improvement and advancement in Nova Scotia, the erection of light-houses was most worthy of notice. In January, James Fraser, John Douglas and Samuel Cunard, the commissioners of light-houses, published a notice, for the information of mariners, of the several light-houses then on this coast, giving particulars of their situation, character and bearings, namely: the Sambro light, near Halifax harbour, - the Liverpool light, on Coffin's island, - Shelburne light, and Brier island light, - four in all. About half a century has passed away since that notice was issued, and now [1867] we find fifty light-houses established and in operation...."1
Murdoch gave us the picture as of 1826: "In a report on light houses, 23 February, new light houses were recommended -- one at Mauger's Beach (the current one being pictured to the right), one on St. Paul's island, one at the Seal islands, and one on Cross island."2 It was only in 1839 that the first lighthouse was in operation on St. Paul's Island, on the northeast side; in the following year the second lighthouse on the southwest side was lit.

Samuel Cunard was a commissioner of lighthouses for a twenty year period.3 During his time, Cunard oversaw the building of a number of lighthouses in the province. It was Cunard who introduced the idea that lighthouses could serve as good daylight markers. They were to be all painted white, and, depending on the location, each lighthouse bore a unique marking such as vertical or horizontal strips painted on the white background in red. By 1848, an official document reported there were nineteen lighthouses in operation in the province and two others were then in process of being built.4


NEXT: [Chapter 27, Steamships]

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Peter Landry