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Brighton group shines a light on historic landmark

Presqu'ile Point Lighthouse

The Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse on the shore of Lake Ontario near Brighton is Canada’s second-oldest lighthouse. It will be undergoing construction in 2017 to repair damage caused by weather over the years. Photo courtesy of Ontario Parks

By Isaiah Mawhinney [1]

BELLEVILLE – The Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse Preservation Society [2] is working toward restoring a historic landmark in the Quinte region.

That landmark is Canada’s second-oldest lighthouse, built in 1840 and located at Presqu’ile Point just south of Brighton [3] on Lake Ontario. The lighthouse has been damaged by 175 years of weather. The preservation society is dedicated to promoting the lighthouse as a heritage icon and restoring the tower to its full potential.

Dave Sharp [4], the volunteer director of the society, says the intent is not only to preserve the lighthouse, but to educate the public too.

The initiative started in 2012 and being done in three phases. The first phase, now completed, was en engineering study to identify the condition o the lighthouse and come up with restoration options. Phase 2 is the preparation of engineering drawings and specifications for the restoration. Sharp said the group is currently working with Ontario Parks [5] to get approval for that work.

The final phase will be the actual restoration. The group is optimistic that Phase 3 will begin in 2017, said Sharp.

There has been cracking and stress on the limestone of which the lighthouse is built, presumably due to the original design, Sharp said.

“All of the cracking and stress has to be alleviated and repaired,” he said. As well, the shingles on the exterior of the building have to be completely replaced, he added.

After the rehabilitation is complete, Sharp said, he hopes the lighthouse will last 300 years.

The project isn’t cheap, though, as historic limestone can be expensive to fix. Sharp gave an estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million to complete the restoration process.

“Which means we’ll need our own fundraising, but we’re also going to need a lot of both provincial and federal help,” he said.

The group has already raised approximately $75,000 on its own.

Sharp said the society is receiving excellent support from the public and is just shy of 200 members paying annual fees.

“It is very important for the society to have a ground that is solid membership-based when we approach the government” for money, he said. “Because if (the government says), ‘Well, you’re not even (getting) support from your own community,’ why would they support us?”

On March 15, author Marc Seguin [6] will give a talk to the Hastings County Historical Society in Belleville about the history of lighthouses in this area. For details, click here [7].