Port Bickerton Lighthouse

Lighthouse Details
45° 05' 24.0'' N    -61° 42' 01.7'' W
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     This is a lighthouse to visit. Visitor Info45° 05' 24.0'' N    -61° 42' 01.7'' W    Google Map

The Second and Third Port Bickerton Lighthouses
© Dan Conlin
The Second and Third Port Bickerton Lighthouses
In the foreground is the reconstructed second light which is now a lighthouse interpretive centre. The current operational lighthouse is in the background.
Bickerton was settled in 1840 by a group of fishermen from Peggy's Cove. Although Bickerton Island was settled first, the area surrounding the lighthouse was settled soon afterwards.

It was not until 1901 that the first of three lighthouses was constructed in Port Bickerton. Emery Taylor of Stillwater, N.S. was contracted to build the lighthouse with a bid of only five hundred dollars. The lighthouse was completed in January of 1901, but it was not operational until October 10th of the same year. The lighthouse was a small harbour light, housed in a square, wooden tower, painted white with sloping sides. The western region of Barachois Head was home to this first lighthouse. It was erected one hundred feet from the shore, on a site twenty-five feet above the high tide line In clear weather it was visible for seven miles.

As the years passed, it was clear that the lighthouse was not a sturdy building and in about 1924 it was replaced, probably by a temporary light. In 1930 the light was first shown from the combined light and dwelling which still remains on the station. (This building is now the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre and is open to the public.)

The first lighthouse keeper was Theodore O'Hara. His yearly salary was one hundred and fifty dollars. Until the first residence was completed in March of 1903, he had to row back and forth to the light from the village across the harbour. Keepers were not well paid. In the 1940's they were paid only nineteen dollars each month. Irvin Beiswanger had to fish lobster as well as keep the light in order to earn a living.

Port Bickerton Lighthouse
Port Bickerton Lighthouse Museum
A view of the interior of the Port Bickerton Lighthouse Museum.
A fire in the district in 1947 brought the lighthouse dangerously close to destruction. The blaze started across the peninsula in Fisherman's Harbour and worked its way to the light. Fortunately, residents in the community were able to douse the fire with water from the sea. The light escaped destruction with only some damage to the roof.

Until 1948, the fog warning device consisted of a small, manually operated fog horn and was utilized only when boats were entering the harbour. Electricity was introduced to the Port Bickerton area in December 1947, and along with it came an automatic fog horn. The first automatic horn sounded from the Port Bickerton light October 20, 1948. Now on top of ensuring that the light itself remained lit, the keepers also had to start the engine for the fog horn. They were responsible, as well, for relaying the weather over a two-way radio. In 1962 the light was converted to electricity. Up until that time oil had been used.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
Lighthouse History Contributor: Kathy Brown.
Photographs: Dan Conlin and Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre.
Sources: Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre.