Swallowtail Lighthouse

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Swallowtail LIghthouse
Swallowtail Lighthouse - Grand Manan Island NB 2009.jpg
Swallowtail Lighthouse in 2009
Swallowtail Lighthouse is located in New Brunswick
Swallowtail Lighthouse
Location North Head, New Brunswick
Coordinates 44°45′51.1″N 66°43′57.5″W / 44.764194°N 66.732639°W / 44.764194; -66.732639Coordinates: 44°45′51.1″N 66°43′57.5″W / 44.764194°N 66.732639°W / 44.764194; -66.732639
Year first constructed 1859
Year first lit 1860
Automated 1986
Foundation stone
Construction wood
Tower shape octagonal tower
Markings / pattern white tower, red lantern
Height 16.2 metres (53 ft)
Focal height 37.1 metres (122 ft)
Range 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi)
Characteristic Flash 4 s; eclipse 2 s.
Fog signal Horn: blast 2 s; sil. 18 s.
Horn points 100°
Admiralty number H4168[1]
CHS number CCG 33[2]
NGA number 11364
ARLHS number CAN-491
Heritage Recognized Heritage Federal Building (1991)[3]

The Swallowtail Lighthouse is a Canadian lighthouse located on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. It was the first lighthouse to be built on the island. It was first lit on 7 July 1860 and was automated and de-staffed in 1986.


The wreck of the merchant ship Lord Ashburton in 1857 on the northern tip of Grand Manan, with the loss of 21 lives, led the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly to call for "a Light House to be erected on the Northern Head of Grand Manan".[4] The site chosen was a headland called the "Swallow's Tail" near the entrance to the harbour at North Head. The lighthouse tower and keeper's dwelling were built in 1859 at a cost of £495 and the lantern was first lit on 7 July 1860.[5]:17 It was the first lighthouse to be built on the island of Grand Manan.[6]


The light was originally provided by nine lamps and reflectors, which were later increased to ten. In 1887 a lens replaced the lamps and reflectors. In 1907 a fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed, providing 360° coverage.[4]

A wooden tower was built in 1914 to house a fog bell. The fog bell tower was moved in 1920 to a position closer to the lighthouse. In 1958 a new keeper's house was built, replacing the original dwelling. In the 1960s the lighthouse keeper had a boathouse moved from another lighthouse to the Swallowtail light station. In 1980 the fog bell was removed and put on display at the Grand Manan Museum. The lighthouse was automated and de-staffed in 1986. [5]:18


The lighthouse, which is visible from the ferry as it approaches and leaves the terminus at North Head, has been called "the island's signature vista".[7] It has regularly featured in New Brunswick tourism materials and has been recognized by the federal government as "a long-standing symbol of the maritime heritage of the region".[3]


The village of North Head purchased the de-staffed but still operational light station's land and buildings, other than the lighthouse tower, from the federal government in 1994. In 1996 it became the property of the newly amalgamated village of Grand Manan. The lighthouse keeper's residence was used as a bed and breakfast for several years, closing in 2004. In 2008 the village council announced plans to sell the house, but reversed the decision in the face of the community's negative response. An organization called Save Swallowtail was formed in order to clean up and repair the building.[8] In 2009 the village leased the keeper's house to the organization, which had become the Swallowtail Keepers Society, for 20 years.[5]:19

In 2010, Swallowtail light was included on a list of 976 lighthouses declared "surplus" by the Canadian Coast Guard.[9] The Swallowtail Keepers Society undertook to acquire and maintain the lighthouse and remaining property, and received a $55,000 grant from the New Brunswick government at a ceremony marking the Swallowtail's 150th anniversary.[10]

In 2012 the fog bell, which had been housed at the Grand Manan Museum since 1980, was returned to the site, where it is displayed on a new wooden deck near the keeper's house. [4]

The Swallowtail Keepers Society took over the lighthouse property in July 2013. Later that year, federal, provincial and municipal government grants and community fundraising resulted in over $200,000 "to build a boardwalk, improve the footbridge, produce marketing materials and cover project administrative costs at the iconic lighthouse".[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals: Atlantic Coast, Bay of Fundy, NB". Canadian Coast Guard Notices to Mariners - NOTMAR. August 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Lighthouses of Canada: Southern New Brunswick". Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Lighthouse, Swallowtail, New Brunswick, Canada". Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Swallowtail Lighthouse". Lighthouse Friends. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Anderson, Kraig; Loughery, Kelly Anne (2012). Lighthouses of New Brunswick: Past and Present. Halifax, NS: Nimbus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-55109-915-6.
  6. ^ Allaby, Eric (1984). Grand Manan. Grand Harbour, NB: Grand Manan Museum Inc. p. 22. ISBN 0969178700.
  7. ^ Lonely Planet Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island. Lonely Planet. 2017. ISBN 978-1-78701-029-1. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  8. ^ Saunders, Mary-Ellen (29 April 2008). "Process begins to bring 'treasure' back to life; Heritage Save Swallowtail group cleans up abandoned light keeper's house located next to Grand Manan iconic lighthouse". New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Saint John, NB. pp. C8.
  9. ^ Pritchett, Jennifer (10 June 2010). "Future of Canada's lighthouses in doubt". New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Saint John, NB. pp. A1.
  10. ^ "150-year-old lighthouse feted at Grand Manan celebration". New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Saint John, NB. 8 July 2010. pp. A3.
  11. ^ Gowan, Derwin (12 September 2013). "Funding announced for Grand Manan projects". New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Saint John, NB. pp. C9.

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