Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Island Market

Canada: Government Selling Iconic Lighthouse Islands

A number of Eastern Canada’s most famous island lighthouses are being offered for sale by the government, but alas, only conservancies will be eligible to bid.

(Spectacle Island Lighthouse, Mouton Bay)

Nova Scotia is renowned for its scenic coastal beauty – vast expanses of forest, intricate bays and inlets, and rocky seaside cliffs – but perhaps more than any other feature, its lighthouses have inspired countless paintings and novels. It was surprising to hear, then, that the Canadian Government is seeking to sell off some of these treasured beacons, a few of which are on their own small islands. With the passing of 2010’s Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, however, a number of lighthouses not considered of historical significance were declared surplus by the Canadian government, and are now up for bid.

In some of the province’s most scenic areas, like Port Mouton Bay, it is now possible to purchase iconic lighthouse islands, two of which, Coffin Island and Spectacle Island, stand out as icons of a bygone era. Located within Queen’s County, a picturesque hour’s drive south of Halifax, Coffin Island Lighthouse dates from the early 19thCentury is found within the blue waters of Liverpool Bay. Spectacle Island Lighthouse has long been a treasured landmark for residents of Port Mouton, further south of Liverpool, who mounted a campaign several years ago to restore the old lighthouse on the island, which had been slated for demolition.

The idea of life on one of these isles brings forth visions of blissful solitude amongst epic wind and waves, with only the occasional, melancholy blare of a ship’s horn as a reminder that the outside world does indeed exist. Of course, as generations of lighthouse keepers have known, it’s also a hard life, full of inclement weather and strange isolation. But for a certain type of independent, self-sufficient person, it would be heaven on earth.

(Bear Grylls's Island by David Medcalf)

It’s easy to imagine that an adventurous soul would be thrilled at the prospect of life of such a unique experience – in fact, the daring British mountaineer and television presenter Bear Grylls resides part-time in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage on West St. Tudwal’s Island, a small speck more than a half-mile from the coast of Wales. Purchased for less than £100,000 in 1999, Grylls and his wife set about renovating the island’s small residence, adjacent to the small lighthouse, and reportedly live there for three or four months out of the year.

However, there are restrictions placed on who can purchase the lighthouse islands for sale in Nova Scotia – as tourist destinations and beloved symbols, the Canadian government is eager to keep them in public hands, and only dedicated conservancies with solid business and ecological proposals are eligible. While the lighthouses for sale in Eastern Canada will never make for private paradises, there may yet be opportunities to experience life on one of these remote sea outposts. Many conservation groups seek skilled volunteers to assist in maintenance and research, offering a chance to help a worthy cause and enjoy a unique adventure at the same time.

Read more about this story: Nova Scotia News Now

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