This past December a severe storm surge destroyed the dune protecting Canada’s Prince Edward Island’s 1876 West Point Lighthouse from the Northumberland Strait. Waves swept under and heavily damaged the recently constructed new boardwalk to the base of the tower and the doorstep of the adjoining inn. Surprisingly, there was no structural damage. There was flooding in a lower level office and the basement where there was damage to the furnace and water heaters as well as some stored items
The challenge now facing its owners, the volunteer West Point Development Corporation, is finding a way to prevent damage from future storm surges or sea ice. Although Mother Nature has started to repair some of the damage by building up about 18 to 20 inches of sand on the dunes it will not be enough to prevent damage from future storms. Additionaly, about two and half feet of sand deposited by the storm in the parking lot of the lighthouse will be used as part of a new manmade sand dune. A recent meeting of local officials determined that immediate action will be to place large armour stones in a semi-circular pattern in front of the lighthouse. However, longer term options, such as moving the lighthouse, are also being considered.
During the past year, more than 1.8 million dollars has been spent by federal and provincial governments as well as the Development Corporation to upgrade the West Point Lighthouse Inn and Museum, improve Cedar Dunes Provincial Park, relocate The Point Craft Shop, and enlarge the Harbourside Centre to include an eighty-seat restaurant.
The storm also hit the small wooden tower of the 1878 Murray Harbour Front Range Light (also known as the Beach Point Light) which was torn from its base and rolled approximately 275 feet inland. Although Coast Guard officials said the light will likely be sold and replaced with a modern aid to navigation, local residents indicated a desire to save the structure. Another Prince Edward Island lighthouse, the 1876-77 North Rustico Lighthouse, lost some of its metal siding but was otherwise unharmed.
This story appeared in the
Mar/Apr 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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