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Callander lighthouse on the horizon?

Plans underway to revive a local landmark

Callander resident Ryan Farquhar has big plans to revive a local landmark, and if all goes well, a lighthouse will stand again on Morrison Island.

The island can be clearly seen from Memory Tree Park and from the municipal dock at the end of Lansdowne Street.

Many will remember the original lighthouse that graced the small rocky island. The structure stood for about 25 years before a devastating storm blew through in July 2006, toppling the lighthouse.

To this day, all that remains are fragments of the foundation.

But Farquhar wants to raise a new lighthouse from those fragments and has been working on architectural drawings for the structure.

As envisioned, the lighthouse will stand 40 feet high and be fully operational, warning boaters and snowmobilers that land is near.

“A lot of thought went into the approach of doing this,” Farquhar told Callander’s town council during a recent meeting.

Indeed, there are a lot of steps for making a lighthouse materialize. Farquhar owns the island, and the designs of the building are well-underway. However, there are two large hurdles that must be completed before the project gets the green light.

Currently, the island is designated an environmental protection zone. The municipality is considering changing this to an open space zone with provisions to allow for the lighthouse.

Generally, an open space designation covers areas such as parks, conservation areas, golf courses, and other sites that provide outdoor recreation space for tourists and residents.

An environmental impact study is also being undertaken to gauge any potential effects on the animals near the island, as well as any impact on the water.

Besides serving the community as a fully functioning lighthouse, the goal of resurrecting the building is to add another memorable landmark to the area.

Farquhar told council that the lighthouse will certainly improve safety, but it will also help boost tourism by providing boaters and tourists another destination to aim for.

As such, there will be a dock boaters can tie to, step out on, and spend some time enjoying the island. Cameras will snap, images will be posted online, and slowly but surely, Callander’s new lighthouse will gain some traction on social media.

“This is going to attract attention to Callander,” he said. “This is going to be a landmark; it’s going to be a beautiful place to be.”

Councillors supported the idea, but remain cautious about the insurance liabilities, impact on the environment, and potential for vandalism to the structure given the drop-in nature of the attraction.

Farquhar emphasized that the island is his property, so the insurance issues would fall on him. It is a topic he is still looking into but wants “people to take responsibility for their own actions while on the island.”

As for the environment, he reassured council that there will be no water system within the lighthouse, no bathroom, showers, or sinks, so nothing from the lighthouse itself will seep into the surrounding water.

As for security, “I thought that maybe each person on council could sort of takes turns, twenty-four hour shifts here and there,” he joked.

Cameras will be installed, he said, which should deter most vandals. Plus, “there will be a lot of eyes on it in the summer, and certainly in the winter.”

Councillors also were concerned about the light cast by this lighthouse, and Farquhar explained he is “leaning towards red” which is easier on the eyes. As imagined, it will blink on and off every four seconds or so.

Farquhar mentioned he is still “in discussion with the coast guard” as to the specifics of the light, but assured council he will ensure the light provides safety without being an annoyance to shore dwellers.

“All our intentions are good here,” he added.

Plans for the lighthouse remain in the preliminary stages. If all goes well, Callander may witness the revival of a popular landmark.

David Briggs

About the Author: David Briggs

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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