Following several years of fundraising and renovations, the Medway Head Lighthouse in the Region of Queens is now open for visitors.
According to members of the Medway Lighthouse Society, the historical building located on the picturesque Long Cove Road, has undergone significant structural enhancements and interior refurbishments since the group assumed control of the building in 2014.
Donald Allan, president, and Ray Leger, treasurer of the society, say that since the group began its efforts to save the lighthouse and develop it into a tourist attraction, they have raised and spent about $35,000 to replace rotting boards on the ocean and north side of the structure, as well as to replace all the windows and to carry out other repairs to prevent leaking.
The repairs were necessary, they explain, in order to prevent further deterioration of the structure and to make it safe for visitors. Considering the history of the lighthouse, they say the members of the society and the community at large felt a responsibility to save the structure.
Information supplied by the society says the first of four lighthouses at Medway Head was built in 1851 and sat below the present site. In fact, its old foundation can still be seen among the rocks. It was a square wood dwelling which was 23-feet high, painted white with a black square daymark and was in service until it was replaced in 1927. Elson Perry was the first lightkeeper until 1892.
The second lighthouse served until 1966 when a new fibreglass tower was installed on a nearby concrete pad as the third lighthouse. In 1980, the second lighthouse was sold and moved and still proudly sits today on top of the hill near the existing structure.
In 1983, the fiberglass structure was replaced with the current wooden “pepperpot” tower. Four years later, with the retirement of Douglas Smiley, who served as lightkeeper at Medway Head from 1959-1987, the lighthouse was de-staffed.
With the completion of repairs, Allan and Leger point out the society is now opening the lighthouse for visitors. Volunteers will be at the location throughout the summer months every Wednesday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Sept. 3, Labour Day.
When they began the schedule on July 1, Leger points out they had 14 visitors with the first being from Ohio, which, he says, was a good way to kick off the season.
While the historical structure itself is an attraction, visitors will also find a display of historical photographs inside the lighthouse. Created by Bob Whitelaw, the show is titled River, Port & Sea: The Medway Through Time. From the Stone Age to the Space Age.
Allan and Leger say the society is excited that the lighthouse is now open to visitors and they encourage everyone to drop by to learn the history, as well as to enjoy the spectacular natural environment of the location.