Monday, November 26, 2012

Self-Guided Tours Using Interpretative Panels

We are pleased to have a wide range of interpretation panels now installed at Swallow Tail for our visitors. Through funding from the Canadian Heritage Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund, we were able to add outdoor interpretive panels for self-guided tours year round. We also have some wonderful hand painted signs for directions and other information. A memorial plaque was installed in 2011 to mark the 75th anniversary of the tragic death of one of the light keepers, Elodie Ingalls Foster.

New sign welcoming visitors to Swallow Tail.  The Welcome Centre is also a gift shop.  The deck affords lovely views and has one of several picnic tables in this area.
The new signs include a Welcome to Swallow Tail and site map. The spelling of Swallow Tail has varied over the years and we have opted for the older spelling in our signs, where the name more accurately refers to the origins of the name referring to the shape of the peninsula, reminiscent of a swallow’s tail with the curve of the wings in the surrounding coves. The site map positions Swallow Tail in relationship to Grand Manan and the Bay of Fundy and local points of interest. A sign post near the boat house also compliments this information, pointing to various areas, including distance in some cases, that can be seen from Swallow Tail.

Site sign for Swallow Tail located near the stairs.  The new safety railing can be seen in the background which defines another picnic area and seating.
All of the buildings have a sign that includes a brief history of the structure. In addition, there is information about the fog bell. Various types of fishing can be seen at different times of the year from Swallow Tail and a panel describes some of these. The new floating weir has been a topic of conversation and there is a separate post about it. Many types of marine life can be seen as well and these are illustrated on another panel. Geology of the area is also described including the large mafic dike that the footbridge straddles. Grand Manan has the great opportunity for people to have one foot on rock over 200 million years of age (MYA) and also one foot on rock over 500 MYA. Finally there is a bit of a discussion about the weather conditions, what it does to the vegetation and why it is more evident at Swallow Tail.

Many of the signs are clustered around the keepers buildings where people pause and take in the information.  Each building also has a short description of its history.
The fog bell has its own interpretative sign giving its history.
The geology panel is near the footbridge, appropriately attached to one of the large rock outcrops.

Memorial panel and the history of the lighthouse are located near the entrance to the tower.
People enjoying the view sitting beside the sign post near the boat house.

While the site is beautiful and extremely awe-inspiring, there are a few hazards and with the number of visitors it is also necessary to point out some courtesies that would make everyone’s visit pleasant. These are summed in a sign by the stairs and are worth repeating here:
  • The wind is always stronger on the peninsula – the loss of several hats in the Sawpit last summer can attest to that.
  • The trails can be icy in the winter and may not be passable after a heavy snowfall.
  • Footpath after February snow storm and 2.5 hours of shovelling.
  • It is always best to carry out any garbage because items left lying outside can be blown into the ocean. In the summer there is a garbage can in the parking area which is emptied regularly. 
  • To respect others and for the safety of your pet, it is always best to have dogs on a leash. Not everyone picks up after their dogs which makes it unpleasant for others using the trails, particularly when it is left in the middle of the footpath.
  • Caution sign at stairs.
  • There are a few sharp drop offs and if you venture beyond the marked paths, you should be aware of this and take necessary precautions. It is a long walk back with an injury.
We hope that everyone enjoys the information and the panels help answer some frequently asked questions.

Part of a double rainbow that formed in October 2012

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