Bud Clarke often provided a humorous response to tourists who marvelled at the beauty of Cape George Lighthouse.
“You should be here in January,” he repeated to laughter during a July 23 celebration marking community ownership of the Antigonish County landmark.
Clarke spent part of his childhood living on the lighthouse property, where his father, from 1951 to 1968, served as its last keeper.
He described living in the elevated location, nestling the Northumberland Strait, particularly the weather, as “pretty rough.”
Clarke recalled Hurricane Edna, which he said “rattled the dishes in the cupboard.”
Not to mention the countless times “Dad got struck on the road.”
“The road was only wide enough for a horse and cart,” Clarke said.
As for his aforementioned response to those summer visitors who, understandably, marvelled at the lighthouse and its picturesque view, the passage of time has softened it.
Clarke recalled visiting the site, in 1988, with his two sons.
“I agreed – yes, it is beautiful place,” he said .
Clarke was one of the more than 200 people – of all ages – who shared stories during the Sunday afternoon gathering, which included music, food and children’s activities.
In his opening prayer and blessing, Father Andrew Boyd described it as a “momentous occasion.”
“There are so many people who have worked tirelessly,” he said.
Boyd described the lighthouse as a “secure beacon of hope,” which has provided safety to many “weary travellers.”
A common thread throughout each speaker’s remarks was the time – more than two decades – and effort by the Antigonish North Shore Development Association and its volunteers.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser commended them for “years and years of effort.”
“This is such a wonderful thing to be celebrating,” he said.
Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey praised “great work” involved in reaching the milestone, while also reflecting on his first Cape George Lighthouse experiences.
In 1994, when he was lifeguarding and providing swimming lessons with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Delorey and his co-workers would make visits to the location.
“It is so picturesque and, of course, there is such a rich history,” he said.
Delorey added the lighthouse has and continues to serve as a “beacon for this community and all of Antigonish.”
Municipality of the County of Antigonish Warden Owen McCarron agreed, calling it “a great day” for the county.
He noted his first election to council coincided with the formation of the Antigonish North Shore Development Association.
“She was advocating from day one,” McCarron said of Mary MacLellan, his long-time council colleague.
“It has been a great volunteer effort and this is a day we are proud to be in Antigonish.”
After he spoke, McCarron – on behalf of the municipality – kicked-in $1,000 to the ongoing campaign to operate and maintain the property, while MacLellan did the same from her district funding.
Former Antigonish MLA Angus MacIsaac thanked organizers for their “kind invitation.”
While he served, that organization formed; something he remembered “really vividly.”
“You knew it was something worthy of consideration that needs to be followed up,” MacIsaac said of visits from MacLellan.
“I am really, really proud to be part of this community as your councillor,” the veteran municipal representative said, when she was asked to speak during the commemoration ceremony.
Allan Roberts remembered a time, in the mid-1970s, when he and the late Billy MacPhie tackled painting the lighthouse.
He noted there were no boom trucks, so a jeep and trailer hitch was integral to the innovative effort to get the job done.
“No safety equipment then,” Roberts said, adding MacPhie was probably “looking down on us” and enjoying this day.
Reverend Peter Smith provided the closing prayer and blessing, describing the lighthouse as a “symbol of important history and heritage.”
“This is also a great reflection of the importance of a community working together,” he said.
As of June 8, 2016, the property has been registered to the Antigonish North Shore Development Association, in trust, for the Cape George community.