The waiting is finally over, and the lighthouse preservation project is finally taking off. Of course, work started soon after the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer acquired the site from the federal government, first with the removal of the mercury from the lighthouse lantern (2017) and then with the installation of new septic systems (2018). However, with the new lease between the Ville and the Association des residents de la pointe du phare (ARPP), 2019 was the first year that the site has been both accessible and operational.
For accessibility, the site was opened to the public on June 23 just in time for the St. Jean-Baptiste holiday weekend and has remained open since. Hundreds of visitors – locals and tourists alike – have come to enjoy the beauty of the site, a place where the sea and sky meet in a unique historical setting. Visitors were, however, required to park near the Route 132 and walk the remaining distance to the site – a 15-minute stroll along the picturesque Route du Phare that is almost as lovely as the site itself. This access restriction is needed as this single lane road cannot handle increased vehicular traffic, both in terms of maintaining the tranquil nature of the point and for ensuring the safety of pedestrians. Work is already underway for a dedicated parking area at the head of the road. For those with mobility restrictions, an access plan is in development to provide parking at the site itself.
In terms of operations, the Keeper’s House was ready in time to welcome students and staff from Glendon College, McGill University and Université Laval, as well as visiting scientists from Chile. A number of events took place at the lighthouse, including a celebration of Québec Lighthouse Day (La Journée Québéçoise des Phares), the annual ARPP community picnic and a shoreline cleanup. Finally, the community mosaic project, led by Heritage Lower St. Lawrence, completed a 7-foot diameter compass at the site this summer, complementing their lighthouse mosaic at the Metis Beach School.
Of course, there is still much to do, and based on feedback from the community, the association is orienting its efforts towards three goals: (1) renovating the Keeper’s House; (2) painting the lighthouse exterior; and (3) restoring the light. The first goal is essential for generating revenue needed to maintain the site, and the second is urgent after years of neglect. The last one is less urgent in terms of deterioration, but it appears as essential as the others for community morale. Indeed, the most frequently heard question is “when will the light be back on?” For many people, there is clearly a deep attachment to this part of our community’s heritage. The association is committed to the restoration of the original light mechanism and recently applied for additional funding from the federal government for this purpose.
This work will require financial support beyond that provided by the federal and municipal governments, but thanks to generous support from the community, these goals can be achieved. For those who have contributed, thank you! And for those who have pledged or wish to donate to the lighthouse preservation project, cheques or bank transfers should be made out to the “Ville de Métis-sur-Mer” with the specification for the Lighthouse Preservation Fund. The Ville can issue the receipts for tax purposes if needed.
Finally, Heritage Lower St. Lawrence is creating a new website for the lighthouse to help you learn more and keep abreast of developments (for example, the availability of the Keeper’s House for rental). If you did not make it to the point this past summer, make plans to visit next summer. After years and years of waiting, this special place is now yours to enjoy.