OCEAN-ISOLATED GUYON ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY

Guyon Island Lighthouse

Guyon Island, known earlier as Guion Island, lies off the east coast of Cape Breton between the communities of Gabarus and Fourchu. The low-lying, treeless island is just a mile south of Winging Point, but as the nearest land is a wilderness area, the island seems very isolated. 

In 1875, John G. Sinclair was awarded a $2,980 contract to construct a lighthouse on Guyon Island with a target completion date of August 1, 1876, but the light wasn’t exhibited until 1877. The Department of Marine published the following on Guyon Lighthouse shortly after it was placed in operation:

Revolving led light, attaining its greatest brilliancy every thirty seconds; eight No. 1 circular lamps, with 22-inch reflectors; iron lantern 9 feet in diameter, having twelve sides; plate glass, 60 x 30 inches. The lighthouse is placed about 230 yards from the west end of Guyon Island, Cape Breton County. The building is of wood, painted white, and consists of a square tower 54 feet high, with a dwelling attached.

The light is elevated 74 feet above high-water mark, and was put in operation on 30th June, 1877.

The contract price of the building was $2,980, and the lantern and lighting apparatus was furnished by Mr. Chanteloup, for $2,639.10.

The salary of the keeper is $400 per annum. The consumption of oil is stated at about 1 ¼ gallon per night. 

Robert Winton was the first keeper of the lighthouse, and after one year his salary was raised to $450. Keeper Winton served until 1903, and then Joseph W. Hardy took charge of the light.

A combined boathouse and coal shed was built at the island’s landing in 1888. In 1908, the white lighthouse was given red stripes or bands to make it more conspicuous when snow was on the ground. A double-flash, long-focus reflector was installed in the lantern room in 1914.

In 1923, a fog alarm building was built on a rocky point south of the lighthouse, and a bridge was built to span an intervening gully. Oil engines and air compressors were installed in the building to power a diaphone foghorn that produces a four-second blast every minute when needed. 

A new “standard combined lighthouse and dwelling” was built next to the original lighthouse in 1927. The standard design of the time was a square, two-story dwelling with a lantern room centered atop its pitched roof. The dwelling had two vertical red stripes on each of its sides. 

In 1936, a new fog alarm building had been built on the site of the original lighthouse, adjacent to the 1927 lighthouse. This would have made tending the fog alarm more convenient for the keepers, but the foghorn blasts would certainly have been more bothersome. 

The present reinforced-concrete lighthouse was built on Guyon Island in 1964 along with two, one-story keeper’s dwellings. A larger type F diaphone, with its associated engines and air compressors, was installed on the island in February 1966, replacing the type B diaphone. Two months later, in April 1966, diesel generators were placed on the island, allowing a 1,000-watt bulb to be used in the lighthouse instead of an oil-vapor lamp. 

An electric foghorn was installed in 1971, and the resulting reduction in workload permitted the station’s staff to be reduced from three to two keepers. A submarine cable brought commercial power to the island in 1981, but the station was switched to solar power in 1986 and automated. The dwellings and outbuildings were declared surplus and offered to anyone willing to remove them from the island, but nobody expressed interest. 

Darin Guthro kayaked to Guyon Island in 2016 and produced a Youtube video showing the dilapidated condition of the boathouse, two keeper’s dwellings, and the lighthouse itself. 

Guyon Island Lighthouse is best seen by boat, but a distant view is possible from land. From Fourchu, travel north on St. Peters Fourchu Road/Fourchu Road for 6.7 km (4.2 miles), and then turn east onto Belfry Road and follow it to its end to get a view of Guyon Island. 

The lighthouse is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds open, tower closed.

Keepers: Robert B. Winton (1877 – 1903), Joseph W. Hardy (1903 – 1912), E. Bagnell (1912 – 1924), D.S. McLean (1924 – 1935), W. McIntyre (1935 – at least 1937), J.A. Beaton (1965 – 1968), Bill Ringer (1973 – 1975), Bill Horne (1975 – ), Cornelius “Ken” Lahey ( – 1984).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, various years.
  2. Lighthouses & Lights of Nova Scotia, E.H. Rip Irwin, 2003.

Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse

Address: Lighthouse Road, Neil’s Harbour, Victoria County, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse – Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)

Designation Date: 2015-02-12

Dates:

  • 1899 to 1899 (Construction)
  • 1899 to 1899 (Established)

Neil’s Harbour lighthouse will be the third lighthouse in our lighthouse series. Neil’s Harbour is a small settlement located between Ingonish and Dingwall on Cape Breton’s Cabot trail. Blessed with a sheltered cove, excellent conditions for drying fish, and close proximity to abundant fishing grounds, Neil’s Harbour was a popular fishing base for both Scottish and French settlers in the 1700s. Neil MacLennan, an enterprising merchant based in Westmont, would sail to the protected cove with his vessel laden with dry goods to trade with the fishermen. MacLennan became such an integral part of life at the cove that the fishermen began calling it “Neil’s Cove,” and over time the name became Neil’s Harbour. 

Between 1871 and 1891, the population of Neil’s Harbour and nearby New Haven swelled to 430, due to an influx of Newfoundland fishermen looking for better fishing grounds. To mark the entrance to the harbour, the Department of Marine established a lighthouse in 1899 on the outer edge of the headland that protects the harbour. The following description of Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse was published that year:

The lighthouse is an enclosed wooden building square in plan, with sloping sides, painted white, surmounted by an octagonal iron lantern painted red. It is 34 feet in height from its base to the ventilator on the lantern. The lighthouse stands on the ground elevated 46 feet above the high-water mark and is 65 feet back from the edge of the bank.

The light is fixed red, elevated 73 feet above high water, and visible 8 miles from all points of approach by water. The illuminating apparatus is dioptric of the seventh order.

The work was done by Mr P. McFarlane, of Baddeck, under contract for $725.

Angus A. Buchanan, who also served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, was hired as the first keeper of the lighthouse on August 14, 1899, as an annual salary of $150. In 1910, Keeper Buchanan was given a hand-operated foghorn that he was required to sound in response to signals from vessels during periods of limited visibility. George Sweet, Jr. replaced Buchanan as keeper in 1911 and was in charge of the lighthouse for the next twenty years. 

On November 2, 1956, a 200-watt electric light bulb replaced the oil lamp that had been used in the lighthouse, and six days later, Walter Bragg, who had been the keeper of the lighthouse for over twenty years, was out of a job. 

In 1964, a time clock was used to turn the light on and off, and a standby twelve-volt, battery-operated light was used in case of power failure. 

For several years, Scott Hatcher operated an ice cream shop in the lighthouse during the summer. Scott went away to school in Halifax, but after finding city life wasn’t for him, he returned to Neil’s Harbour. The village’s volunteer fire department had previously sold ice cream out of the lighthouse starting in 1999, but Scotty Hatcher took over the operation in 2003. Scott’s brother, Tim, and girlfriend, Skye MacDonald, also helped run the shop. 

In 2015, Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse was declared a heritage lighthouse under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act that was passed in 2008, and ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to Neil’s Harbour-New Haven Community Development Association. Renovations of a heritage lighthouse must meet strict heritage building requirements, and a heritage lighthouse may not be demolished unless there is no reasonable alternative. The development association has been running the ice cream shop since 2016.

Neil’s Harbour-New Haven Community Development Association entered the lighthouse in “This Lighthouse Matters,” a crowdfunding competition sponsored by National Trust for Canada and the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society in 2015. Twenty-six lighthouses in Nova Scotia competed for online votes in three different categories: High Tide, Ebb Tide, and Low Tide. The top three vote-getters in each category were given monetary awards that totalled $250,000. Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse came in second in the Low Tide category and won $10,000. Using the prize money, rotten wood in the lighthouse was replaced and a leak in the lantern room was repaired. 

Keepers: Angus A. Buchanan (1899 – 1911), George Sweet, Jr. (1911 – 1931), Walter Bragg (at least 1936 – 1956).

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on Neil Head in Neil’s Harbour, Nova Scotia;
— its current, as-built form and proportions, based on the standard design of square, tapered, wooden towers;
— its square, wooden frame structure with tapered sides rising from a square base;
— its straight cornice that supports a square gallery;
— its simple metal railing surrounding the gallery;
— its octagonal metal lantern with six glazed window panes and a pyramidal roof and vent;
— the white maple leafs painted on the two non-glazed window panes;
— its white clapboard siding;
— its sole entry, pedimented door;
— its interior layout, featuring a ladder and trap door which give access to the light;
— its stone foundation;
— its traditional colour scheme, consisting of white for the tower and cornice, and red for the lantern and gallery railing; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.

BOOK YOUR STAY!

Captivatingly Beautiful Cape Breton Highlands Winter!!

Captivatingly Beautiful Cape Breton Highlands Winter!! : Tourists flock to the Cabot Trail in summer and fall. It’s also a mystical winter wonderland that few take the opportunity to explore throughout winter . Skiing, hiking , ice fishing, snowshoeing, and camping are among some of our winter activities. Here’s a few pictures from our Cabot Trail in winter cover from Davey and Sky. Come stay and explore. Click the “book your stay” link below.

Captivatingly Beautiful Cape Breton Highlands Winter!! BOOK YOUR STAY @ Back Home Bed and Breakfast

FREE EAGLES TICKETS WITH YOUR STAY!!

Your stay will be highlighted with the clipper room. Upon arrival, there will be a chilled bottle of beverage awaiting you. Admission to the day’s Cape Breton Eagles game is free of charge for two guests. Before heading out the next day, we will fuel you with a delicious homemade breakfast by Delores.

The dates available are as follows:

All remaining regular season games are available!!

GREAT DEAL $150 BOOK DIRECT: call 902.562.5555 or 306.262.6966 Located 8 minutes from Center 200 at 2000 Gabarus Highway, Dutch Brook, Nova Scotia

#backhomebedandbreakfast #dutchbrook #sydney #capebretoneagles #capebreton #capebretonisland #hockey

FREE EAGLES TICKETS !

FREE EAGLES TICKETS WITH YOUR STAY!! Your stay will be highlighted with the clipper room. Upon arrival, there will be a chilled bottle of beverage awaiting you. Admission to the day’s Cape Breton Eagles game is free of charge. Before heading out the next day, we will fuel you with a delicious homemade breakfast by Delores.

The dates available are as follows:

Center 200, November 4th, vs Halifax Moosehead Sec 6, Row E, Seat 1 and 2

Center 200, November 24th, vs Saint John Sea Dogs Sec 7, Row J, Seat 13 and 14

Center 200, November 25th, vs Halifax Moosehead Sec 6, Row K, Seat 10 and 11

Center 200, December 30th, vs Halifax Mooseheads Sec 6, Row K, Seat 10 and 11

Center 200, January 20th, vs Moncton Wildcats Sec 6, Row K, Seat 10 and 11

GREAT DEAL $150 BOOK DIRECT: call 902.562.5555 or 306.262.6966 Located 8 minutes from Center 200 at 2000 Gabarus Highway, Dutch Brook, Nova Scotia

#backhomebedandbreakfast #dutchbrook #sydney #capebretoneagles #capebreton #capebretonisland #hockey

Natalie MacMaster, Mary Frances Leahy & Donnell Leahy!

Natalie MacMaster and family, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2022 AT 5 PM – 8 PM

While staying at Back Home Bed and Breakfast take in some good Downeast entertainment. Click to book your stay!

The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse is thrilled to announce a surprise appearance from Cape Breton’s fiddling sensation, Natalie MacMaster along with her oldest daughter, Mary Frances Leahy, and husband Donnell Leahy! This is a show not to be missed! Tickets are on sale now. To purchase a table, phone 902-270-8003.  
$30 per person (includes HST)
19+ event 

The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse features an extensive menu of hand-crafted Irish & Maritime dishes, taps of local and international brews, and an excellent selection of wines. To view the menu click the link below.

Old Triangle Irish Alehouse – Menu

#cabottrail #sydney #bedandbreakfast #capebreton #capebretonisland #novascotia #celtic #irish #dutchbrook #music #nataliemacmaster

Kitchenfest !

The island-wide traditional Gaelic music festival is back for year 9 as Colaisde na Gàidhlig | the Gaelic College presents Féis a’ Chidsin!, KitchenFest! back at its usual calendar spot, July 1-9, 2022.

The annual celebration gives locals and visitors alike up close and personal insight into this distinct and vibrant living culture, bringing the kitchen-céilidh feel to the forefront. Concerts and ceilidhs, pub nights, and square dances, celebrate beautiful Unama’ki/Cape Breton’s glorious scenery, music, food, and people with this perfect summer season kick-off – one big island-wide kitchen party!

Book your stay at Back Home Bed and Breakfast while taking in the Kitchenfest activities.

For more Kitchenfest information follow the link KITCHENFEST or to click to view the schedule of events

Here is a google map link of the Kitchenfest venues map courtesy of Back Home bed and Breakfast.

CRABFEST

The 2022 Louisbourg Crab Fest is being planned to take place on Saturday, July 30th from 12:00 noon – 1:30 am on the Louisbourg Waterfront! 

On Saturday, they are planning to have crab dinners available (depending upon supply), starting at noon, along with ‘toe-tappin’  entertainment throughout the day and during the evening.

A refreshment tent, merchandise booth, and canteen service will also be available during the festival.

Children’s activities will take place from 1:00-4:00 pm.

You are invited to come and join in for the fun, food, and festivities during the 28th Annual Louisbourg Crab Fest!

Book your stay with Back Home Bed and Breakfast and attend this great time!