By John Francis
Winter storms out of the east or northeast always drive impressive waves onto the shore at Lion’s Head. People who visited Lion’s Head lighthouse on Saturday, Jan 11 were concerned that the building could not survive the pummelling it was taking. They were right to be concerned. The northerly gale continued overnight and by Sunday morning the lighthouse was smashed to smithereens. Plans to move it to a more sheltered location in spring turn out to be too late.
In an interview, Northern Bruce Peninsula Mayor Milt McIver stated that the lighthouse “…is an important part — an icon — of our marine heritage. I’m sure there will be community support to rebuild it.” He noted that retired BPDS shop teacher Brian Swanton still has the plans for the building, which will simplify the rebuilding process. The replacement lighthouse will need to be “a little more robust,” Mayor McIver said, “and we’ll need to put it in a better location”.
Keeping a lighthouse in place and functioning has been a challenge ever since the first structure was erected in 1911. That building survived only a few years before being destroyed in a storm (possibly the White Hurricane of 1913?). Rebuilt on the same spot, the building served for more than 50 years before being torn down by the Coast Guard in the summer of 1966. In its place they erected a metal pole with a light on top. That pole was destroyed in 2000, at which point the Coast Guard moved the replica lighthouse (built in the late 1970s by Brian Swanton’s shop classes) into place and installed a light.
Mayor McIver says that the lighthouse replacement will be discussed at Council’s Jan 13 Meeting.