|Here as in other maritime places the old lighthouses are getting scarce.
It hardly seems yesterday that lighthouse keepers and their families tended
gas-lit lights perched in the places so perilous to those on the water.
Maritime histories are full of tales about these hardy souls who lived
in remote, often times totally isolated places on our shorelines.
Santa came by Coast Guard Tender and sometimes kids stayed with relatives
ashore during the school year. There are countless tales of daring
rescues of shipwrecked sailors by the lightkeepers.
Even in calm weather the Bay of Fundy can be deadly to the unwary.
We have the highest tides in the world; often rising and falling 10 or
12 feet in a couple of hours. It's all too easy for an unsuspecting
sailor to rip the bottom out of his boat on rock shoals that were deeply
covered just a short time before.
Another feature of the lighthouses was the steam-powered foghorns.
These deep bellows were heard when the pea-soup fogs rolled in. Old
salts could tell each horn by its tone and knew exactly where they were
even though they could barely see the bow of the boat. I can still
hear the voice of the Partridge Island foghorn in Saint John going
BOOOOOOOO - WAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!
When I was in Grade 4 one of my classmate's father was a harbour pilot
in Saint John harbour. These men went out to inbound ships
and guided them into safe berth. Sadly one day, the little pilot
boat was run down by the ship they were to meet in a very heavy fog.
There were no survivors. I can still remember how the teacher and
principal came and got Jackie in the middle of class. Then the teacher
had to tell us why. The foghorn had an especially sad wail for a
long time afterwards.
There also used to be a "Weather Ship" anchored in mid-bay between NB
and Digby, NS which sent back marine weather broadcasts to the radio
stations onshore. All that has changed now, being replaced with modern
and in many ways better electronic navigational aids. But we have
saved some of the old places that said "These are Sea People."
by Wayne Pond