Friday, June 26, 2009

Elodie and Thomas Foster

After talking with Claire Foster today, I drove to the cemetery where both Elodie and Thomas Foster, lightkeepers at Swallowtail, are buried (on Hill Road) and easily found their grave markers alongside the road with other Fosters including Thomas' brother.

Elodie was 44 when she died because of the accident lighting the lantern at Swallowtail. Thomas lived exactly twice that time, dying when he was 88. He did remarry after Elodie's death.

The last lightkeeper at Swallowtail, Grimmer Ingersoll, is also buried in the same cemetery.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Canada Day

We are again having a flag raising at Swallowtail Light on July 1, at 9 AM. The RCMP in red serge uniform will be presiding. This will be our second annual event. We will also have Claire Foster and family helping with the flag. Elodie Foster, Thomas Foster's wife died in 1936 when her clothing caught on fire as she was lighting the lantern at Swallowtail and she died from the burns. Apparently she had accidentally overfilled the lantern with alcohol which burst into flames when she lit the wick. Thomas, the lightkeeper at the time at Swallowtail was tending the Southwest Head light at the time and had left the tending of the Swallowtail with his wife. Thomas and Elodie were Claire's husband's great uncle and aunt. We would like to honour Elodie in the future, along with all the other light keepers, once we start working on the historic displays.

Hard to believe a year has passed so quickly but we have made some in roads with the project including:

  • initial cleanup of all the buildings
  • installing the flag pole and first official flag raising
  • successfully registering with the province and federally as a charity
  • achieving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Village of Grand Manan to assume the responsibilities of the buildings
  • reroofing the former Ross Island Boat House and the small pumphouse (located at the top of the hill)
  • building a fabulous deck/observation area surrounding the former Ross Island Boat House
  • cleaning up some of the vegetation around the parking area and cliff
  • temporarily fixing the screening on the stairs leading to the bridge
  • fixing the railing on the bridge

We could not have done any of this if it were not the dedication of numerous volunteers, and the generous support of donors, both financially and inkind. Look forward this summer to a table at the Farmer's Market, evening sails and musical/dinner/tea adventures. We hope to Hug Swallowtail on July 12 but this is dependent on whether the lead paint cleanup is finished. This project was begun late last fall by the federal government concerned about the high levels of lead in the soil around the foundations of the old keepers house torn down in 1958 and the lighthouse, after nearly 150 years of painting and scraping.

Our next major work event will be in September with members of a Rotary Club from Florida arriving specifically to work on the buildings at Swallowtail. We will, of course, be doing some work throughout the summer whenever anyone has some time. We desperately need to fix the southern end of the boat house beside the keepers house before the entire end disappears this winter.

If you are interested in helping or have some suggestions, please let us know.