One of Canada’s most important sites in terms of our international image sits approximately a 50-minute scenic drive from Halifax. Many around the world are familiar - but can't name the place - with the image of a tall red and white lighthouse bathed in a misty layer of ocean spray coming from the angry waves smashing into its rocky base. This lone tower is one of Canada’s most famous landmarks, not because of its purpose – directing maritime traffic safely to port is quite a noble enterprise – but its spectacular natural beauty, making Peggy’s Cove an absolute must see when in Nova Scotia.
|Peggy's Cove Lighthouse|
I visited this fishing village of Peggy’s Cove back in the summer of 2005 and my first impression of this place was as if it had been clipped out of a National Geographic magazine or spruced up for a prestigious photographer that was coming to town. Everything was immaculate and served a divine purpose, from the small houses partially built on the rocky shoreline and backing out onto the waterway, to the multicoloured fishing nets sitting rolled up on the street and ready for action, and fishing boats patiently awaiting in single file their crews to resume their high-seas adventures. The fishing industry has lessened in importance in terms of municipal revenue for the inhabitants being eclipsed by tourism which has continuously gained momentum post-WWII.
The lighthouse, officially the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, is one of the most photographed structures in Atlantic Canada and has played an important role in Canada’s worldwide PR campaign. I recall attending cultural events overseas, both as a child and as an adult, and this place was always at the forefront of our national image. Posters, videos... you name it. Thank you, Nova Scotia for putting us on the map! At the time I visited, the lighthouse was at still operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. In 2010, it was declared surplus by this organization given the high tech improvements in navigational devices and ever since, there are many questions as to who will become the next caretaker. That could make for an interesting reality TV show.
As our society continues to mature through technological evolution – nowadays, anything can become obsolete overnight – it is our duty to insure the survival of our proud and rich history. Canada Post closed its office at the lighthouse, citing mold growth as a main reason, which suggested a safety hazard to employees and parcels. Losing this tenant generated a further blow to the revenue and increased the taxpayer burden during already challenging economic conditions - there have not been many booms in this part of the world. The last I heard regarding its quest for survival - a poster child reflecting our trivial global economic decay - was that the lighthouse had until May, 2012 to be nominated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Bill S-215) or it would face disposal - a sad retirement for a loyal 97 years of service. There have been inferences that the province of Nova Scotia will claim ownership at some point in time of this property but as far as I know, no one has stepped up to the plate.
|Real estate in Peggy's Cove|
For now, the site is still open to visitors from far and wide although I do believe it is open only a seasonal basis – usually between the end of April up to October. I suppose you can see the lighthouse anyway from afar during the wintertime along with the rest of the village under a heavy blanket of snow, but it may resemble a frosted ghost town from classic Western movies. It is truly a unique pillar of our country’s heritage, lighthouse or no lighthouse. The future of the entire village is in the balance, as with the loss of the main attraction, it will be like watching the Chicago Bulls after Michael Jordan’s retirement. Their playing field to successfully draw tourists will be put up to par with other small settlements that already struggle to survive on a very limited and seasonal industry.