Cape Sable Lighthouse

Lighthouse Details
43° 23' 24'' N    -65° 37' 16.9'' W
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43° 23' 24'' N    -65° 37' 16.9'' W    Google Map

View No Ka Oi Drone Video - Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, Canada

Post Card of Cape Sable Light Station Showing the First Tower
© Courtesy Sid and Betty June Smith
Post Card of Cape Sable Light Station Showing the First Tower
The first light tower was built of wood in 1861 close to the southern seawall. On November 12 the first lightkeeper, John Hervey Doane, lit the lamps atop the 65 foot octagonal tower. Because more lives and property had been lost at Cape Sable than on any other part of the coast, the installation of a white light of the first order was recommended. However, the decision was made to provide a red light on the cape. This red light, with nineteen lamps, was by far the most expensive to operate of any on the coast. On a clear night, it could not be seen over a distance of eight miles. Four-sevenths of the power of the light was lost through the thick red glazing of the lantern.

In 1869, the lantern glazing was changed to clear with ruby chimneys on the lamps to show a red light. This greatly improved the range. Recommendations were made to have two lighthouses on Cape Sable, both showing a white light. These would not only serve to distinguish this point from any other on the South Shore, but they could be arrayed as to guide the mariner clear of the dangerous shoals lying to the west of Cape Sable. In 1870 a clockwork mechanism was installed and on 15 July, the light was changed to flashing white.

On 1 July, 1902, installation of a 3rd order Fresnel lens was completed. A fog alarm building and steam-whistle came in 1876. In 1897 a 16 foot lifeboat was placed at Cape Sable. Lightkeeper Isaac Doane was coxwain, but he had no organized crew. In 1900, this was abandoned in favour of a new lifeboat stationed at Clark's Harbour, on Cape Sable Island. On its low land-base, the light was not visible far enough to seaward. In 1923/24 a new tower of reinforced concrete, 101 feet from base to vane, was constructed nearby. This is the tallest lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

In high winds, the keeper's house would lean sideways! In one direction, the doors would stick, in the other they would pop open.

When Sid Smith was keeper, he found the steam fog horn the most interesting equipment to run. Maintaining the light mechanism was hard work. The lamp was kerosene vapour in the 1950's, which meant carrying the kerosene up the light and pumping the pressure tank.