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Historic Cape Light lens returns to Cape Sable Island

CLARK'S HARBOUR - A long-lost light from the Cape Sable Lighthouse is now in Clark’s Harbour after spending years crated in storage in a government building on the Saint John, New Brunswick waterfront.

Found this fall when the building was being cleaned out for demolition, it was returned to Nova Scotia by the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society and given to the town. The town has been instrumental in helping preserve the Cape Light through the Friends of the Cape Light group.

The delivery of the light took place Dec. 5.

President of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, Joe Flemming, and his son Zach delivered the light, all 19 crates of it, as well as the mechanical equipment that holds and supports the lens, to Clark’s Harbour on Dec. 5. It is being stored in the warehouse of a local business for the time being.

Before transporting the lens to Clark’s Harbour, a group of experts in Halifax unpacked every crate to document and label the pieces, who, aside from Flemming, included Dan Conlin, curator of Pier 21; Roger Marsters, curator of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and Chris Mills, former lightkeeper and Coast Guard employee.

“We were really excited to go through it,” said Flemming.

“We spent five hours last night taking everything off the truck and opened every one of these crates. We went over every one and documented every piece,” he said, telling Clark’s Harbour Mayor Leigh Stoddard and Deputy Mayor Rex Stoddard the town will be getting a report itemizing what’s in every crate.

“It’s an incredible find,” said Flemming. “The engineering is just amazing.”

The light is a third order Fresnel lens that would have lit the way home for mariners from 1902 through to the 1980s on both the original Cape Sable Lighthouse, built in 1861, and its replacement that was built in the early 1920s and is still operational.

Stoddart said the town is looking at several options for a permanent home for the light.

“We’re either going to install it at the Seaside Heritage Hall on the stage, or the Municipality of Barrington has approached us and thought it might be better placed on The Hawk so we’re getting a price on a structure to be built that would be like the dome on the top of the lighthouse” he said, explaining it would house the light inside.

During the delivery, Flemming spent several hours sharing information about the light and its assembly, saying the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society and the Nova Scotia Museum will certainly help if needed in reassembling it.

The first order of business will be to get the hundreds of components cleaned, from the smallest hardware pieces to the light panels and everything in between. 

Stoddart said the town’s public works crew will likely begin tackling the task this winter, crate by crate.

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