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Port Medway Lighthouse

The Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries for 1899 chronicles the establishment of the Port Medway Lighthouse.
A lighthouse established on the eastern end of the breakwater in Port Medway harbour, on the south coast, was put in operation on April 1, 1899.

The lighthouse is a square wooden tower, with sloping sides, surmounted by a square wooden lantern, the whole painted white, and is 33 feet high from its base to the vane of the lantern.

The light is fixed red, elevated 31 feet above high water mark and visible 6 miles.

The illuminating apparatus is dioptric of the seventh order.

Port Medway Lighthouse on wharf
Photograph courtesy Nova Scotia Archives and Records
Samuel T. Foseter was appointed the first keeper on February 17, 1899, at an annual salary of $100. The tower’s final formal keeper was George McConnell. He started at a salary of $150 in 1942, but by the time he retired on October 7, 1959, he was making $345. Cecil Dolliver then served as a caretaker of the lighthouse, being compensated $40 each year, until 1967.

The lighthouse was covered in vinyl siding in 1979 and decommissioned a decade later on January 4, 1989.

Four years after the lighthouse went dark, so did the nearby fishing plant. The two decaying structures served as reminders of Port Medway’s once thriving fishing community, but were starting to become a blight for the community.

Deciding the lighthouse was an important part of the area’s marine heritage, the Medway Area Communities Association set out to save the tower in 1998. In July 2000, the lighthouse was purchased by the Municipality of Queens on behalf of the association, and after a $602,000 facelift of the lighthouse and its surroundings, the new Port Medway Lighthouse Park was opened in October 2002.

On hand at the park’s opening ceremony was ninety-two-year-old Kate Armstrong, niece of Keeper George McConnell. Kate Armstrong related that her two girls would climb the tower with Keeper McConnell. “I never went up to the top though,”she admitted. “I was too afraid!”

References

  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, various years.
  2. “New Life at Port Medway’s Little Light,” Chris Mills, Lighthouse Digest, January 2003.
  3. Lighthouses & Lights of Nova Scotia, E.H. Rip Irwin, 2003.

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