Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Swallowtail - 150th anniversary

Swallowtail’s birthday July 7 started out with fog which is so typical for Grand Manan and one of the reasons the lighthouse was constructed. The fog was so thick that the fog horn had been active all night and the lighthouse was shrouded in fog. However, with sun in the forecast, the fog lifted around the lighthouse and on the Swallowtail peninsula as people headed out for the official flag raising and salute to this grand old lady who has seen so many storms and stood the task of defending the coastline for mariners. It was estimated that over 100 people either made the trek out to the lighthouse or remained at the top of the hill.
Burton Small, strong supporter of Swallowtail and instrumental in organizing the Seminole Florida Rotarian working visit in September 2009 when they helped paint the keepers buildings at Swallowtail

Although we had wanted to be able to give tours of the inside of the lighthouse, Canadian Coast Guard regulations prevented this from happening. People had to be content with walking around the structure with its now peeling paint and crumbling stone foundation, exposed after the soil remediation project to remove the lead paint that had accumulated in the soil after years of scraping and painting the lighthouse and keepers house. Despite the lack of maintenance by the Canadian Coast Guard - the Grand Manan Rotary Club raised the money to have the lighthouse painted in 2004 - the tower is still strong but will need work soon.
Theresa MacFarland and RCMP Constable St. Laurent.
Members of Fishermen's Friends preparing to sing O Canada
At the appointed hour (2 p.m.) members of the Grand Manan Choir, Fishermen's Friends, sang O Canada and the flag was broken by the RCMP Constable St. Laurent. The Honourable Fisheries Minister, Rick Doucet, and member of the legislature for Charlotte-The Isles which includes Grand Manan, and the Honourable Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sports, Hédard Albert represented the province. The Honourable Mayor Dennis Greene represented the Village of Grand Manan. Theresa MacFarland represented Swallowtail Keepers Society.
Crowd gathered for the breaking of the Canadian Flag at Swallowtail

The flag pole had been relocated to the boat house where it had been located when the keepers house was built in 1958, prior to the construction of the concrete and iron stand on a rocky knoll by light keeper Grimmer Ingersoll. Unfortunately, time had taken its toll on the ironworks and it had corroded to a point that it would no longer hold a flag pole upright and had broken off during the winter. The boat house location for the flag pole had been discovered in an old photograph and it was felt that this would be a good alternative. It also suddenly made sense why there was a cleat on the boat house - to tie off the lines on the flag pole.

Celebrations then moved to the Grand Manan Museum for the official opening of the “150 Views of Grand Manan” a pictorial retrospective of Swallowtail lighthouse. The display is absolutely amazing and was put together by the curator Anneke Gichuru through word of mouth. The display is composed of photographs, drawings, paintings, hooked rugs, china, beach glass art and a quilt made from the maple leaves from the Canadian flags that flew at Swallowtail. As Anneke noted, to find 150 different images of the same building that all invoke a different emotion or mood is highly exceptional. It is no wonder that Swallowtail is the one of the most well known and most reproduced icon for Grand Manan. The Museum offered free admittance for the afternoon and many took the opportunity to wander around and take in the other exhibits.

A wonderful cake, also decorated with an image of Swallowtail was cut and enjoyed by the approximately 65 people who attended the reception. A floral arrangement selected from Swallowtail added to the ambiance in the Elmer Wilcox Room. People were encouraged to reminisce about their memories of the lighthouse and enjoy the display. Marty Klinkenberg wrote about the day in the Telegraph Journal:

The Honourables Rick Doucet and Hédard Albert took the opportunity to announce funding for the restoration and improvement of the keepers buildings. The provincial Built Heritage awarded Swallowtail Keepers Society with up to $30,000 and Regional Development Corporation another $25,000. Swallowtail Keepers Society needs to raise $10,000.
Honourable Hédard Albert, Theresa MacFarland (Swallowtail Keepers Society), Honourable Rick Doucet

Fundy Community Foundation

After the reception, the Annual General meeting of Swallowtail Keepers Society was held. A review of the last two years in a PowerPoint presentation was given by Kevin Sampson. A new co-vice chair was elected.

I regretfully could not attend but would like to thank everyone for their efforts to make the day a great success.  We would also like to thank the Fundy Community Foundation for their generous donation to make the Anniversary celebrations possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment