Cape Sable Historical Society
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Seal Island Light Museum

Open June 1 to September 30
Monday to Saturday - 9:30am to 5:30pm
Sunday - 1:00pm to 5:30pm
Admission $5.00 per person/$15.00 per family

Seal Island Light Museum is a 35 foot replica of the 67 foot light house on Seal Island. It houses the only installed multi-panel Fresnel lens and lantern room in Nova Scotia, along with artifacts from other lighthouses in the area. Seal Island is located approximately 20 miles off the coast of Clark's Harbour, at the elbow of the Fundy inlet, where tides rank the highest in the world.

The History of Seal Island Lighthouse

Seal Island and the other smaller islands near by are surrounded by very dangerous "tricky" waters which have caused many ships to be wrecked and lives lost over the years. In the early 1800's local men of Barrington and Yarmouth would go to Seal Island each Spring to bury the shipwrecked dead. Mary (Crowell) Hichens from Barrington knew that many of the shipwrecked sailors could be saved if there was someone there to care for them; so she urged her husband Richard to go to live on the island and they would help rescue the shipwrecked sailors.
So in the summer of 1823, the families of Richard Hichens and Edmund Crowell moved from Barrington to Seal Island where they very successfully established the first lifesaving station in Canada. When they first moved there they built houses and kept a candle in the window for shipwrecked sailors.
In 1827, construction of the lighthouse began and was first lighted on November 28, 1831. It was through the urgings and efforts of Mary Crowell Hichens that this lighthouse was acquired.

The Light was "fixed" for 76 years but in 1907 a revolving mechanism was installed, giving three flashes. The seal oil lamp had been exchanged for a French five-wick kerosene model in 1892 and in 1907 was replaced by a kerosene vapour light. In 1959, a diesel generator-powered electric light was installed, and in May 1979 the automatic light took over for the old light and the lightkeeper.

Lens at Seal Island Light Museum

The History of the Seal Island Light Museum

In 1977, citizens of southwest Nova Scotia learned that a modern beacon was to replace the Seal Island Lighthouse and that the National Museum of Canada was to have the old lantern. Many thought that this historical off shore light should remain in the province. Petitions were made to the Minister of Transport and as a result, in February 1979, the lantern was donated to the Municipality of Barrington. The complicated operating mechanism and the lantern were dismantled and transported by helicopter to Cape Sable Island where they were turned over to the municipal authorities. The Cape Sable Historical Society then worked to raise the needed funds to construct a model lighthouse. Through community donations and Government grants, the lighthouse was completed in 1981. On July 1, 1985, the Seal Island Light Museum was opened to the public and since then has attracted many tourists.

Seal Island Light Museum under construction 1980

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