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County heritage meets government wrecking ball – call out to save Pt. Petre lighthouse

The call is out to halt further demolition of buildings at the Point Petre lighthouse site – now under way without due process.

Prince Edward County’s new Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (PEC ACO) branch is alarmed that without public consultation, or knowledge of the plan, demolition has begun of heritage buildings associated with the Point Petre lighthouse.

“The lightkeeper’s dwelling, built in 1962 as a home for the resident lightkeepers and their families has now been completely demolished,” said Liz Driver, PEC ACO interim president.  “The radio shack, dating from the 1950s, and housing the radio equipment for the once-essential radio beacon navigation system, is slated to be torn down presently, exact date unknown.”

Branch members are concerned the lighthouse itself will be next to see the wrecking ball.

In 2015, the Point Petre lighthouse, along with the two associated buildings, were nominated for heritage designation under the terms of the federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (HLPA). A proposal from a local community organization, the Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust (HPELT), to conserve the lighthouse and the other two buildings, have been under consideration by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) since 2015.

“The lighthouse advocacy group, Save Our Lighthouses, has diligently followed up with DFO every year or so to request the status of the designation process, and were advised that delays caused by clean-up of contaminated soil near the buildings, and a backlog due to the number of lighthouses nominated for designation under the HLPA, has meant that this collection of culturally significant buildings is still on track to be designated as a heritage site,” said Driver. “This heritage designation would be done by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), who is also responsible for Parks Canada. Parks Canada administers the HLPA designations.”

Heritage designation would have protected the cottage, radio shack and lighthouse which were essential aids to navigation around the County’s dangerous points (known locally as ‘horns’) that jut out into the eastern end of Lake Ontario, but also significant elements of the landscape, and the County’s cultural heritage.”

“The entire site is of great cultural heritage significance to all Canadians. The original 1832 lighthouse was replaced in 1967 by the current red-and-white-striped tower, a unique and historic structure itself.  This is one of the region’s last remaining vestiges of Canada’s once-vital marine history, which contributed so much to the development of our country from the 19th century through to the present day.

Lightkeeper’s cottage, now demolished

“The lightkeeper’s dwelling was the third house that had been built for the lightkeepers who lived at the site with their families until the lighthouse was fully automated in the 1980s. The radio shack was the control room for the radio-beacon navigation system.”

Before the widespread use of GPS systems, ships sailing across Lake Ontario relied on this marine navigation system whenever a lighthouse was not in sight.

Radio shack demolition expected to be next

“Furthermore, both of these buildings were crucial to HPELT’s plans for the future conservation of the lighthouse. Without these buildings, the conservation of the entire heritage site may be in question.”

The designation process of the federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, must be respected, added Driver.

“ACO PEC is urging the minister to halt any further demolition until the current heritage designation process has been completed.”

 

Click here to learn more about the PEC ACO, and how to join by visiting the website

Five of Prince Edward County’s six remaining lighthouses were nominated under the terms of the federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The sixth, The Salmon Point Lighthouse property, is privately owned.

Marc Seguin first sent out the call to save Prince Edward County lighthouses in 2011.

Call is out to save Prince Edward County lighthouses

In 2015, two were announced to be saved:

Two County lighthouses to be saved

 

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  1. Save Our Lighthouses says:

    While there were 74 lighthouses initially designated in 2015 under the terms of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, there have been an additional 38 lighthouses designated since then (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/pp-hl/page01). In total, 349 lighthouses across Canada were eligible for heritage designation under the act. Most of those will likely not be given federal heritage designation. However, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (the federal department that controls these lighthouses) some of them, including the Point Petre lighthouse and its related buidlings, are still on track to be designated.

  2. B Wilder says:

    The Heritage Light House Protection Act was introduced in 2008 and provided for a petition process to designate a light house. The Act came into force on May 29, 2010. A 5 year period was set for petitions from the public for designation. On August 22, 2015 a list of petitioned light houses was placed in the Canada Gazette along with whether there was a designation as historic or not. Point Petre, False Duck and Main Duck were NOT designated.
    With the greatest respect to those that wanted the light house to be preserved, it did not make it to the list of light houses (there were a large number petitioned and not designated), seemingly this one did not meet the criteria set for designation.
    Link to Canada Gazette for August 22, 2015: scroll down to the entry under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act:
    https://canadagazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2015/2015-08-22/html/commis-eng.html#cs8

  3. gilles says:

    And this, following the Province’s demolition of two heritage buildings within the Sandbanks Provincial Park. And people wonder why there is a lack of faith in our governments.

  4. CountyRose says:

    I also don’t get the reason for so much reckless destruction of County heritage. There is always a reason, just as there was a
    reason when that church got demolished on a Sunday as a surprise.
    You can bet they have a reason (most likely financial/economic),and the only way to counter this sort of thing is to first find out what’s behind it. History can’t be replaced!
    Find a way to stop it, please!

  5. CountyProud says:

    Don’t even get me started on the loss of cultural heritage or the connection to our rich maritime history with all of this.

    My main questions are these:
    Was our Council aware this was happening? And, if not why not? If they were aware, why did they not step in and escalate the issue.

    I realize this is federal jurisdiction but how can things like this happen without communication to the impacted community?

    Where was our federal representative in all of this? He may be a Conservative but he still should know what is going on in his Constituency.

    Sad day, and hopefully positive action can take place that will halt further destruction of our important heritage

  6. CountySteve says:

    I don’t understand the government’s need to recklessly demolish buildings. House of Commons is as far away from Point Petre as you can get.
    I get that the gov’t wants to build, but this is not the case. The building in question does not appear to be in shambles, and does not obscure the view of someone’s million-dollar property.
    So why? I just don’t get it.

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