Cape Forchu Lighthouse
Located at the tip of scenic Cape Forchu, approximately ten minutes from the Town of Yarmouth, the Cape Forchu Lighthouse is home to the first “applecore” style lighthouse with its 75 feet of statuesque beauty and 19 acres of pristine grounds. This towering beacon sits atop picturesque volcanic rocks, and has guided vessels safely into the Yarmouth Harbour since 1840. The light keeper's home is a duplex that housed both the light keeper and his assistant and their families. Today it's a museum, and a Tea Room is located in the kitchen and dining area. The fog building is still functional, but must be sounded manually. Cape Forchu is Nova Scotia's only intact lightstation open to the public. All the others have lost one or more keeper's houses and outbuildings
It’s a great place to have a picnic on the 19 acres of well-groomed grounds, enjoy a picnic and tea by the sea, or fresh, cold lobster sandwiches in the Mug Up Tea Room, outside on the covered patio overlooking the harbour. Visit the museum in the actual light keeper's home where the guides will tell you unforgettable tales about life at the Cape and the Light keepers, shop in the unique gift shop, and walk the shorelines enjoying the views and crisp salty air of the Yarmouth Harbour and Atlantic Ocean. The site also has four interpretive panels outside for visitors to read about the history of the site and the local fishing industry. The site offers a courtesy cart that allows people with less mobility to wander the site. Admission is a donation to the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society.
This was the first lighthouse in Canadian history to be transferred to a not for profit organization. In 2003, the Cape Forchu Lightstation was designated by the Province of Nova Scotia as a registered Heritage Property. The rocks seen at Cape Forchu are representative of four geological periods of the earth’s history. You can view these unique volcanic rocks while you stand on the breathtaking lookoffs on site.
Seniors often frequent the site because of its tranquility and serene surroundings. The project included community gardens, which seniors helped plan and plant. The seniors are encouraged to return each summer and care for the gardens they planted. There are also picnic tables that give the participants an area to socialize and bring their families and friends. It can also be used for events. The gardens also provide opportunities for social gatherings, beautification, education, and recreation for all those involved. Some of the vegetables from the garden are used in the Mug Up Tea Room.
Cape Forchu is Nova Scotia's only intact lightstation open to the public. All the others have lost one or more keeper's houses and outbuildings. A landmark for Yarmouth Harbour, the tall "apple core" style is a notable example of a modernist style light tower.
In the early 1990s, it became apparent that lighthouses in many parts of Canada were going to become part of the past because of new satellite technology. Many light keepers were going to be eliminated, and the sites decommissioned. For centuries, these lighthouses were not only the backbone to navigational aid, but also represented, or held, historical, cultural, heritage, and tourism values for many communities. The fear that the Cape Forchu Lightstation would be bulldozed and closed to the public was enough to persuade some people to act immediately and therefore formed the ground known as "The Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society." As it happens with many crusades, there were ups and downs, and many frustrations during the initial years until, finally, in 2001, Cape Forchu Lightstation became the first lighthouse property in the history of Canada to be turned over by the Canadian Government and saved!
The Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society is a nonprofit registered charity whose mission is to preserve the Cape Forchu Lighthouse as a historical landmark. A most notable achievement has been the continued operation of the Lighthouse as a premium tourist attraction. The organization has worked diligently to maintain the history of the Lighthouse through storytelling from past keepers and their families, maintaining the grounds of the 173-year-old site, and preserving the lighthouse dwelling and tower. The Light keeper’s home holds a wealth of history for everyone to explore.
Since its inception, the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society and members have taken their love and dedication for this alluring icon and have nurtured it into the wonderful site that it is today! It is because of their dedication and that of a spirited community that the light still shines!
A most notable achievement has been the continued operation of the Cape Forchu Lighthouse as a prominent tourist attraction in the area and the Province of Nova Scotia, with thousands of visitors and locals enjoying this wonderful place every day. With approximately 160 lighthouses in Nova Scotia, they have become a shared symbol of our culture and lifestyle.
The tower stands as a proud symbol of dedication and service and maintains a 172-year-old tradition of guiding vessels in and out of Yarmouth Harbour: it is truly a historical landmark. As the light shines the way across the water, we are reminded of our historic and economic ties to the sea. The site is complemented by unique natural beauty and tells a piece of history that has enriched the lives of the people in and around the community.
On Dumping Day, the first day of the lobster-fishing season in southwest Nova Scotia, captains and their crews depart their respective wharves in search of the most prosperous and lucrative lobster fishing grounds in their district. Southwest Nova Scotia is known worldwide for its catches and quality of lobster. Each year, the Friends of the Light welcome families and friends of the fishermen to the Lighthouse to wish them a safe and prosperous season and to bless the fleet. Now, over 300 people attend each year.
The unique "apple core" designed lighthouse, rebuilt in 1962, has been guiding vessels into the Yarmouth Harbour since the original light was built in 1839. The original light was made of wood and was replaced by the current concrete one. The original timber tower was lit on January 15, 1840 by a kerosene lamp. Today, the Lightstation’s two-million candlepower beam is still operating and can be seen over 30 nautical miles out to sea. In 2010, with the support of the community and the Friends of the Yarmouth Light, assistance by the Municipality of Yarmouth and the Federal Government, the Lightstation underwent major renovations. Elimination of power lines, provision of site lighting throughout, addition of a much wider lower parking lot with turning circle, addition of sidewalks, addition of 2 parking areas, and much safer access to the site and grounds. A lot of work was completed underground for drainage in the event of storms and high winds.
Through constant fundraising efforts, The Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society, the current light keepers, have completed a museum interpretive project that includes 11 large photos/panels of the Light and the site, a touch-screen monitor, a welcoming sign, and more to enhance the museum.