Our Mission – To guide and encourage Nova Scotians to preserve and promote their local lighthouses.
Our Vision – Securing the future of Nova Scotia lighthouses by creating a culture of preservation.
The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society (NSLPS) was founded in 1994 by lighthouse enthusiasts, Rip Irwin, Patsy MacDonald and Chris Mills, while on a visit to Sambro Island. They were concerned about the condition of the lighthouse and the keeper's houses as Sambro Island Lighthouse (1758) is the oldest continuously working lighthouse in the Americas. They set up the non-profit society to benefit all the then existing 150 plus lighthouses in Nova Scotia that has the largest number of lights of any province in Canada.
Coast Guard had made plans to decommission many lighthouses as they were deemed no longer necessary due to changing navigational technology while Treasury Board viewed lighthouses as valuable waterfront real estate to be sold to the highest bidder. Subsequently there were several Beacon conferences held around the Maritimes where stakeholders discussed alternatives to the sell off of lighthouses. In April 1998, David Curry, a member of NSLPS, proposed a Lighthouse Protection Act (LPA) that would be passed by Parliament with the view to preserve lighthouses as heritage properties. A LPA committee was struck to promote this proposal and gain the support of politicians to pass it.
Support for this act came from National Trust, a national organization headed by Natalie Bull who understood the process to petition the federal government for such an act, and assistance from politicians such as NS Senator Tom Forrestall and BC Senator Pat Carney. The act known as the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act become law in May 2008. Community groups had until May 29 2012 to petition Parks Canada to assume ownership of their local lighthouses. A total of 25 Nova Scotia lighthouses are protected under this act. For a list, see HLPA Nova Scotia.
Another NSLPS achievement was the granting of funding from the Kaplan Fund to help fledging community groups pay for the restoration of their lighthouses during the period 2002-2003. Recipients included Five Islands, Port Greville, Port Bickerton, Bordens Wharf, Gilberts Cove, Walton, Port George, Walton, Coffin Island, Boularderie Island and Low Point.
In 2015 National Trust launched the campaign, This Lighthouse Matters, to select the top lighthouses by public online voting out of a group of 26 NS lighthouses and also provide all participants with the opportunity for crowd funding. The grand winner was Low Point lighthouse with Gabarus, Cape Forchu and Digby Pier lighthouses coming first in their class.