GRAND MANAN ISLAND – A Fredericton-based brewing company was hot off the gate to support the Tending the Light fundraiser in support of the Swallowtail Lighthouse.
The Swallowtail Lightkeepers Society launched the $300,000 campaign on Aug. 5. The following day, Picaroons Brewing Company contributed $5,000. The money raised will go toward much-needed repairs to the lighthouse’s exterior, as well as the keeper’s house.
“We have taken on quite a few historical projects to support New Brunswick heritage and remind us all how we got here,” said Sean Dunbar, Picaroons owner and operator in a press release. “We have had an opportunity to do this as a company and it’s been the most worthwhile part of our business journey.”
Built in 1859 following the death of 21 sailors who perished in the tragic shipwreck of the Lord Ashburton, the Swallowtail Lighthouse remains an active navigational aid for the Canadian Coast Guard and is a symbol for the province. Thousands of tourists visit Swallowtail to tour the property annually and learn about Maritime history while taking in the peninsula’s beautiful marine views.
The society was established in 2008 during the possibility of a private sale of the lighthouse and surrounding land.
Ken Ingersoll and his late wife, Laurie Murison, along with dedicated volunteers, had looked after the society and the lighthouse, with Ingersoll taking on the role as head keeper and ensuring the light, outbuildings and land have been restored and maintained.
Under their guidance, thousands of volunteer hours have been donated to scrape, paint and repair the lighthouse, keeper’s house and boat house. However, after decades of northeast gales lashing the lighthouse, simply repairing the shingles is no longer feasible.
Ken Ingersoll says, “The lighthouse’s existing shingles are 90 years old and barely holding on.”
Without a complete restoration of the exterior, the lighthouse and the keeper’s house are vulnerable to significant structural damage and deterioration.
Dunbar and Chris MacDonald, the chief operating officer at Picaroons, spent some time recently with Ingersoll and a group of volunteers.
Through its production and sales of “Swallowtail Light” beer, which uses the iconic Grand Manan lighthouse as its logo, Picaroons is financially supporting the restoration project.
It’s hoped the restoration work will begin in April.