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Seguin leads bid to save beacons of hope and safe harbour

A two kilometre walk gets Main Duck Island visitors a look at the lighthouse, constructed in 1914.

Marc Seguin organized the inspections of the lighthouses with an eye to preserving a unique part of Prince Edward County's history.

Text and Photos By Janet Elson
Lighthouses are no longer being built, hundreds have been demolished and those that remain are threatened with destruction.
Those facts prompted Marc Seguin’s call to save Prince Edward County’s lighthouses. His work has gained the interest of several organizations and inspection tours are under way.
Five of the County’s six remaining lighthouses have been nominated under the terms of the federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The sixth, The Salmon Point Lighthouse property, is privately owned.
“These lighthouses represent a unique part of the County’s history,” says Seguin. “Lighthouses are no longer being built.  Many of the lighthouses that once graced the County’s shores have been demolished.  Those that remain deserve to be protected.”
Seguin organized a trip to Main Duck and False Ducks Island last week through Ducks Dive Charters. On board were: Ernie Margetson, a professional engineer and past member of the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee, who is volunteering his time and services to perform inspections; naturalist and historian Terry Sprague, Dick Bird, of the Hastings and Prince Edward Land Trust, Sam Lanfranco of the Mariner’s Museum; councillor Barb Proctor; Ryan Leary and Damien Schaefer of the County planning department, and Peter Lockyer of History Lives Here.
Main Duck Island’s colourful history was explained by Terry Sprague, who leads regular charters at the island ( tours).
“This almost 1,000-acre island within a good stone’s throw of the American border has seen it all – rumrunners, its ownership in the 1940s by Claude (King) Cole, and in later years, John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State under Eisenhower.

Inside the lighthouse keeper's home.

In the late 1940s, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, built a summer retreat on Main Duck Island. Only an outline of the stone foundation remains today, and the still impressive fireplace chimney.

“Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip enjoyed a private picnic in 1984, and we recount the days when lighthouse keepers maintained the lighthouse before automation in 1985.  The light keeper’s house is still there, a stack of firewood in the porch and a bar of soap on the sink where it has been, untouched, for the past two and a half decades.”
“The lighthouse is well-known to the shipping community and is a regional landmark,” says Seguin.
In 1828, a 73-foot conical stone tower was built on Swetman Island, part of the False Ducks group of islands just off of Long Point. This was one of the earliest lighthouses constructed on Lake Ontario, notes Seguin. After the new, reinforced concrete lighthouse was erected in 1965, the original stone tower was torn down. The original lamp room was salvaged and now forms part of the reconstructed lighthouse at the Mariner’s Park Museum at nearby South Bay.
Seguin said the original stone lightkeeper’s dwelling burned down in 1905 and was replaced with a wood framed house which was later demolished.
“Today, only an automation building and the unmanned lighthouse remain on the island.”
The Point Petre, False Ducks, and Main Duck lighthouses are owned by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), but they have been declared surplus to departmental requirements.
“Surplus lighthouse can only be designated if a person or organization agrees to take ownership of the lighthouse and to conserve it.
“So far, the Hastings Prince Edward Land Trust (HPELT) has expressed an interest. In addition, the “Friends of Main Duck Island” may also be interested in taking over the Main Duck Island lighthouse.
“Regardless of which organization becomes the final custodian of these structures,  the plan is for me to continue efforts to coordinate the negotiations with DFO, Parks Canada, and Environment Canada for the protection of the lighthouses and related buildings.”
Visit Marc Segun’s website at:

From the top of the Main Duck lighthouse, a view of the shore, covered in four feet of zebra mussel shells.

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  1. Capt Chris Holder says:

    This would be a very ambitious undertaking. Main Duck of course has a dock, so access is great. Point Traverse is accessible. Salmon Point accessible with permmission. False Duck and Scotch Bonnett are only accessible under ideal conditions. I applaud those that are trying to do this.Let me know if I can help

  2. Paul says:

    I found the Artists website and he does have prints available.


    wow the false duck island sketch would be awesome!!!!!!!!!could i get a copy????????i grew up there….

  4. Paul says:

    I have 5 drawings by M.S Blanchette of the Point Petre lighthouse,Scotch Bonette,Main and False duck Island lighthouses and the Salmon Point Lighthouse.My Aunt gave them to me when she moved away the only one she kept was the Point Traverse Lighthouse which holds a sentimental value to her.

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