A number of my West Coast blogger friends have chosen to celebrate the occurrence of the Winter Solstice by symbolically selecting lighthouses to mark the return of Light. Having lived most of my life on the shore of the St Lawrence River, Lake Ontario at Kingston and in Nova Scotia for five years... "I" share a love for these maritime monuments and have painted a good number of them.
There has recently been an initiative, dating to the 1990's on the part of The Canadian Coast Guard to de-staff manned working lighthouses across the country... arguing that it can save money by automating the remainder of its 241 major working lighthouses along our coasts. There are 50 staffed lighthouses remaining in this country: 23 in Newfoundland and Labrador, 27 in British Columbia.
Senator Bill Rompkey has been chairing a review committee in the matter and in the report offered by the committee suggested: "We've fallen in love with technology. It's become the answer to everything. There are a lot of times when it doesn't work. You need human beings to use the technology."
After discussing the issue with lighthouse keepers, businesses and maritime officials on both coasts, the committee has determined that the issue of de-staffing be put on hold at present until a full cost analysis and appraisal of other public services offered by lighthouses and their keepers can be properly evaluated.
Rompkey also stated: "That lightkeepers have a number of useful roles: search and rescue for those in distress, observing oil and other pollutions, monitoring suspicious traffic including drug smugglers, criminal excursions and illegal immigration."
In Ontario. a number of private citizen groups in a number of Great Lakes locations have adopted/ assumed responsibility for structural maintenance for lighthouse that had been threatened by demolition orders issued by The Coast Guard to insure their survival.
It is indeed beyond being a pity... it is a travesty that our government... small "g" fully intended... has so little value for heritage... or for that matter concern for the personal well-being of its citizens. We are a maritime country. It shall always be so. It makes sense to maintain a human presence in the business of guiding marine traffic along our many thousands of miles of often rugged and dangerous coastlines.
My first jpeg (appropriate for this time of year) depicts a "Light in the East" ... located at Rustico, Prince Edward Island. It has been replaced by an automated light. The second is Squamish Light in British Columbia... and I believe, is still manned.
May these magnificent monuments... to our maritime traditions here in Canada... shine on.. to light the way for mariners who so depend upon their luminous presence!
As well... May the True Light of Christmas light the homes and hearts of all my blogging Friends!
Merry Christmas to all... and to all... a good Light!