THE CRAIG HARDING AWARD
This award, established by NSLPS in 2002, honours one of Nova Scotia's biggest supporters of lighthouses.
Craig Harding fought long and hard to save the historic Cape Forchu lighthouse in Yarmouth, but lost his battle
with cancer just a few months after the municipality officially took possession of the lighthouse. He was just 52.
Craig was born in Overton, Yarmouth County. He loved the sea and as a young man, he worked as a steward
on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Narwhal. In 1969 Craig joined the Canadian Air Force as a meteorological
technician, serving on ships and bases across the country. After retiring from the forces in 1988, Craig returned
to live at Cape Forchu. He continued to stay in touch with the sea, working on the ferry Bluenose as a deckhand,
and on Beaver Marine tug boats along the eastern seaboard.
It was Craig's interest in the Cape Forchu lighthouse that revealed the depth of his passion for the beacons that
guide ships at sea. The Cape Forchu lightstation is a Yarmouth landmark. In 1993 the last lightkeepers departed,
leaving the tower locked and the keepers' dwellings empty. As with other lighthouses in Nova Scotia, there was
a danger the houses, including a 1912-vintage duplex, and other surplus buildings, would be demolished or
sold off by the federal government. Craig, along with his neighbour Gert Sweeney, joined the Friends of the
Yarmouth Light Society to help save the lightstation. The group worked tirelessly to restore the site, opening a
museum in the former keepers houses. It wasn't glamorous work -- shingling, painting and
putting in septic systems, as well as keeping up with regular maintenance in a harsh marine environment.
But Craig and the Friends persevered.
After more than five years of fighting the weather and bureaucratic red tape, their work finally paid off. On June 1,
2000, Larry Wilson, the Coast Guard's Maritimes Regional Director, handed the management of the Cape
Forchu lighthouse over the municipality of Yarmouth. The transfer meant the future of the lightstation was finally
secure. The municipality took complete ownership of the lightstation in 2001. It is now a Municipal Heritage Property.
Craig's passion, tenacity and dedication showed that Nova Scotia lighthouses can be saved. In his honour and
as a permanent "Thank you!" the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society Awards the "Craig Harding Award,"
annually at the Annual General Meeting, to a group or individual who has made an outstanding contribution to
saving Nova Scotia's lighthouses. The award consists of an engraved plaque and $250.
- 2001: Craig Harding, Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society
- 2002: Walton Lighthouse Society, for care of the Walton Lighthouse
- 2003; Medway Area Communities Association, for saving the Port Medway Lighthouse
- 2004: Rip Irwin, in recognition of his long-standing work on behalf of lighthouse preservation
- 2005: Stanley Spicer in recognition of saving the Spencers Island Lighthouse in the late 1980's,
the first lighthouse in Canada turned over to a community association.
- 2006: Port Bickerton Area Planning Association for saving the Port Bickerton Lighthouse
and opening the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre there.
- 2007: Chris Mills, for his years of collecting oral history from lightkeepers
and their families and for his two books abate Nova Scotia’s lights and keepers.
- 2008: Barry MacDonald, for his years of work to get the Heritage Lighthouse
Preservation Act passed.
- 2009: Hampton Lighthouse and Historical Society for preservation of the Hampton Lighthouse which was
passed over by DFO to the Society in 2001.
- 2010: Five Islands Lighthouse Preservation Society for saving the Five Islands Lighthouse, a project that has required years of work and perseverance.
Courtesy Dan Conlin|
|The Craig Harding Award|
Courtesy Dan Conlin|
|Walton at 2002 AGM|
|Dan Conlin presents the Craig Harding Award to Frederick
Burgess and Reginald Clark of the Walton Area Development Association, at the NSLPS AGM, April, 2002.|
Acknowledgement: Chris Mills, Kathy Brown