On March 20, 2016 the Sheringham Point Lighthouse began a new phase of its long and illustrious life, as it was dedicated a Canadian Heritage Lighthouse. In a ceremony attended by many community residents, neighbours, dignitaries, Lighthouse Society members and friends, the heritage plaque was unveiled by retired Senator Pat Carney (on behalf of the Government of Canada) and Elanie Bruton (on behalf of the Society).
Society Vice-President Rob Vanveen opened the event by recognizing and thanking the many people who had helped to bring us this far. “The reason behind all of this effort,” he said, “was to establish a historic park featuring a stunning structure from 100 years ago, and to remind us of the hardships and peril that was part of all sea voyages a century ago, as well as the almost 100 years of vigilant stewardship by the lightkeepers and our Canadian Government.”
To begin the ceremony, T’Souke First Nation elder Shirley Alphonse recited a prayer in recognition of the significance of the occasion. The Lighthouse and its surrounding lands are part of the traditional territory of the T’Souke Nation and we will continue to work closely with them as we further interpret the story of the site.
Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan and CRD Regional Director Mike Hicks both brought greetings and good wishes, and spoke about the diligence and tenacity of the Society’s Board and Membership in driving forward the conservation of the site, and ensuring the Lighthouse would be protected. Hicks congratulated the Society on this “tremendous achievement”, saying that “it was almost impossible that they did this – but, job well done.” “What really happened here,” Horgan said, “was a small group of people had a really, really big idea. And this is the result of it…if you think big things and you work well with other people (just like your Mom told you to do when you were in elementary school), good things will happen.
In unveiling the plaque, Pat Carney pointed out that this is the very first Heritage Lighthouse plaque unveiled in BC. She spoke of the historical aspects of the Lighthouse, and that it continues to be a functioning navigational aid. “And now it is a community treasure, because of the outstanding work of the Society…You have taken on the task of preserving the light, educating the public in its history and allowing public access – and that’s a big job…As Senators and MPs, we can write the laws, we can fight them through Parliament, but if you don’t pick up the torch and light the way and make it work, nothing’s going to happen. So I congratulate you all.”
Following the unveiling, local historian Elida Peers recounted some of the early stories of the Lighthouse, and paid tribute to the Lightkeepers and their families, “in particular Eustace and Anne Arden and Jim and Evelyn Bruton at Sheringham Point – they’ve been part of a noble profession on our coast.”
Closing the ceremony, Society Director and renowned poet Garry Geddes said that “a lighthouse is a cornucopia of metaphors for a poet to think about – certainly journeys and weather and safe harbours and so on. I’ve been astounded thinking about what’s been done over the last 10 years – it’s quite a journey that the Society folks have taken…A lot of faith and a lot of hard work have gone into it, and it reminds me of the old line from the religious hymn “Will your anchor hold?” Well, I think it looks as if it’s holding.”
Following the ceremony everyone reconvened at the Shirley Community Hall where John Walls and Peter Johnson gave a visual tour around British Columbia’s magnificent lighthouses. Our thanks to the great folks at Shirley Delicious for providing the wonderful food and refreshments.