Organization: Presqu'ile Point Lighthouse Preservation Society
About This Project Idea
“Part of the roof is letting the rain and snow into the building (lighthouse) that will accelerate the deterioration of the structure. I find that really heart breaking and very difficult to deal with.” This quote is from Marc Sequin, a well known lighthouse enthusiast and author of “In Search of A Lighthouse”. And, it really points to the continued neglect of our heritage structures.
Did you know that of the dozens of lighthouses building on Lake Ontario in the 1800’s, that there are now, only a few still standing and our Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse is the second oldest operating lighthouse, being built in 1840.
We want and we need to stop further deterioration of this 69 foot tall lighthouse and ensure it is a lasting legacy of our marine heritage and ensure it remains standing for future generations to come. And, we do have a plan of attack but need your help!
This fall’s project will entail a 360 degree erection of scaffolding to the top; removal of the existing shingles and wooden girdle; reinforcement of the window openings using stainless steel spiral tie-rods around the original gothic window openings. Also, to strengthen up the structure of the limestone structure, we will be injecting new grouting technology into the voids of the limestone walls. This pilot project is absolutely necessary to ensure that the proposed final restoration project, (hopefully in late 2018) is on track with respect to new technology to protect this old heritage beauty.
The total cost of the 2017 Pilot Project is just shy of $200k of which our volunteer organization has raised ~$95k with a further $62k committed to this portion of the project. This leaves us short by ~$45k and thus, we are reaching out to you asking you for your support to ensure the lighthouse is still standing for many future generations to enjoy and cherish its’ unique limestone structure and gothic window openings.
The Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse Preservation Society is our volunteer organization and we are taking a huge initial step starting in the Fall with the 2017 Pilot Conservation Strategy Program which is critical from an engineering and costing viewpoint, before we begin the final restoration and preservation project. And that is why we need your help! You can make a difference!
Can you imagine visiting one of the most peaceful spots in our park setting and arrive at the Presqu’ile Point only to find that our once “lady of all lighthouses” being replaced by a 10 foot steel structure supporting a beacon. All that was left of our 69 foot beauty is a pile of broken limestone rocks along the lakeshore. What a huge disappointment that would be. Our project will ensure the necessary restoration and preservation strategies are put in place to ensure its structural strength and also, restore the gothic style window openings to their original beauty that Engineer Samuel Baird designed them to be, way back in 1840. With your help, we can restore and preserve our Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse for future generations to come and enjoy this unique heritage structure. Will you help us “Keep Our Light Shining?”
About this place
Like many villages along Lake Ontario in the early 1800’s, there was a dramatic increase in shipping traffic on the lake reflecting the growing population. With its natural protection against the stormy waters of Lake Ontario; Presqu’ile Bay came into its own as an efficient harbour and commercial port. Not only did the number of ships coming into Presqu’ile Bay increase during the first half of the 1800s but the technology changed as well. Even though the first steam ship came into Presqu’ile Bay in 1824, the schooner was still king on the lakes. In fact, there are many local stories about the sinking of the schooner, “The HMS Speedy” that we encourage our followers to read. The 1804 sinking (with all hands lost on board) actually had a huge impact on our community’s future as if not for the sinking (showing a partial inability of the lighthouse to guide the ships 100% into the safety of the Presqu’ile Bay); our Community would have been renamed as “Newcastle” and become the chosen site of the “capital” of the Ontario region at that time. We need to remember that all through these early decades of the 1800s; beacon fires on the shore remained the best option for showing sailors the way into Presqu’ile Bay. As the traffic increased and more people depended more and more on the safe and effective transportation of goods; expectations in the public would have grown to include the obvious need for a proper lighthouse at the mouth of the of the bay. The government of the day realized that water traffic was the lifeblood of the growing economy and the key to effective defence of Upper Canada from American incursion. Therefore, the 1820s to the 1840s saw major civil engineering projects which in today’s parlance would be called “infrastructure”. Several lighthouses were also built during this time to provide safe passage for the increased lake traffic. On July 29, 1837, Engineer Samuel Baird met with the Commissioners for superintending the erection of a Light House at Presqu’ile Point and the group toured Presqu’ile Point with the objective of deciding on the best location for a lighthouse. Advertisements for Tender were issued on the same day and shortly afterward they concluded an agreement with Mr. John McLeod for the construction of the lighthouse “including the Lantern, at the sum of £1,050”.
Then, on August 10, 1837, Mr. Baird provided the Commissioners with a report titled “Specifications for the Erection of a Lighthouse Presque Isle Point”. It stipulated a building 69 feet tall with a base 30 feet square placed a distance of 75 feet from the lake shore.(insert – it is now only a few feet from the shoreline) The three page document is detailed and specific, revealing a structure designed to fulfill an important function but with style and even a bit of flare in its outward appearance. Care was taken to include safety features like well fastened hand railings as well. The last sentence says “The whole to be completed by the 1st September, 1838”. After many years of anticipation, the Presqu’ile Point Lighthouse was going to become a reality. Besides a bit of a delay, the only other concern was about payments. The amount of £100 would be held back pending approval of the work by the Commission. Due to “the appropriation being made without any previous estimate of the work” a deficit of £150 would occur. This happened because the height of the tower had been increased during the work in order to make the light more visible at the western end of Presqu’ile Peninsula.
We need your support to assist in the funding of the 2017 Pilot Conservation Strategy .. your generosity will ensure the pilot project through to completion and ensure the structural strength and return to the original design can be enjoyed for future generations to come. The funds raised by the generosity of our donors will be used to cover potential shortcomings in covering the costs of the 2017 Fall project. If we are selected as a winner of “This Place Matters”, the monies will be used in two areas. The first is to cover the costs of the scaffolding – by leaving the scaffolding in place, (versus tearing down after the Fall, 2017 project); we will save tens of thousands of dollars in dismantling and re-erection of the scaffolding. Any add’nal monies will be directed towards the next and final stage of the actual restoration process which we hope to start in 2018.