Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

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Head Harbor Lightstation-it’s a tricky one to get to

Tuesday August 27, 2013
Campobello Island
New Brunswick, Canada



We’ll be gone most of the day so we pack a lunch.

I’m having a wrap with the Bar Harbor herring and Raye’s mustard we bought yesterday.  Looks good doesn’t it?   Who would have thought I’d ever actually like mustard.  Aren’t you shocked Carrie??   Also of note is that this Herring is made in Canada for the Bar Harbor Company which is located in Whiting, Maine.  I looked on the map and sure enough there is a straight known as Bar Harbor in the area.   Not to be confused with the one near Acadia formerly known as Eden further south.


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Today we are driving over to Head Harbour Lightstation on Campobello Island. 


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It’s also known as the East Quoddy Light house.  Or at least here in the states.

It’s located on the outermost of a group of small islands at the northeastern tip of Campobello and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in New Brunswick and one of the oldest in Canada.

To get there we drive across the border and keep going straight to the end of the island.   We park the car and set out on the path to the little “toll booth”.

The 61 foot high all-wood lighthouse was built in 1829 with the distinctive St. George red cross added before the end of that century.

A century ago, the light house was maintained by a full time resident lightkeeper employed by the Canadian government.  Today all the labor and expense of restoration and maintenance are borne by the Friends of the Head Harbour Lightstation Inc, a Canadian registered charity.  They charge a $5 per head cross over fee and $10 a head for a tour of the keeper’s quarters and the light itself.

I thought that sounded a bit pricey to me but changed my mind after I saw what they had to restore and maintain and the condition it was in when the government sold it to them for $1.00 Canadian.

We pay our $10 cross over fee and head to the first set of metal stairs. 



This time  we have the tide just right.


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Unlike yesterday at Old Sow, today we are SURE that the best time to be here is at low tide so we can walk over the sand bar and land bridge to the lighthouse.   So we are here about an hour before low tide.  The rocks are all exposed.  We see the lighthouse on the farthest island in the distance and folks walking across the gravel land bridge.

Turns out getting over to the light even at low tide is a bit of an accomplishment.  Nothing like the easy walk over to Bar Island from Bar Harbor.



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After reading the giant warning sign written in both French and English, we head down the first set of iron stairs. 


At the bottom we find what we couldn’t see from up above where it looked like an easy walk over gravel.  Now we see an area of large rocks we must get over and around before we reach the easier walking “sand bar”.  The bigger rocks are wet and covered with seaweed which makes them slippery.


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We’ve just come down the ladder behind me.



We are aiming to go up the ladder David is headed toward and onto island number two.


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Once we get to the sandbar, we are home free and up the steep second ladder we go to be met by another warning sign identical to the first.


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Island number two is really small.  It seems like about a dozen steps and I am at a great bridge connecting islands number 2 and 3. 




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Here we are on island number 3.  We walk across and finally get a view of the lighthouse on island number 4.  It looks really far away.

There is another “land bridge” to cross but this one has no beach to help out.  It is totally made up of slick seaweed covered rocks.












Ok then, down ladder number 3 and watch your step since it ends at a large slick rock.


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Ok now here we go. Through the first section.  Watch your feet.

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Getting closer and there is more gravel to walk on.

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A path, I can handle that.

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Almost there.

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And it was actually fun.




David’s right behind me walking up the last big slab before the last set of stairs.   I’m betting the lighthouse keeper and his family came and went by boat.  What do you think?


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As anyone who has ever owned an old wooden building knows, the maintenance work is never done. 

You just go from one thing to another.  You paint one side of it each year and when you get it all finished, then you start over.  Today there are workers pouring a new sidewalk, scraping and painting and repairing the seawall.   Visitors just walk around them.  I’m thinking that there probably is not a time when you can come over and not find someone working on something.


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This is the volunteer who later does our tour.
   Pretty sure he’s not afraid of heights.


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I am captivated by the light house and walk all around it taking pictures of the buildings and the views.  So does David. Some of these pictures are his.




The lighthouse “complex” consists of the light tower (1829), the adjoining keeper’s house (1840), the fog horn alarm building and storage building (both 1914-1915), and the boat house (1947).  Prior to the building of the keeper’s house, the keeper lived in the lighthouse itself.







Notice all the white dots on these rocks?  They are seagulls of course, with some cormorants thrown in for good measure so everything isn’t white.

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When I come around to the back of the keeper’s house I  see the volunteer/painter is also a birder and is identifying the gulls on the rocks.  The big ones are black gulls and gray gulls (also known as herring gulls).  The smaller ones are kittiwakes and Bonaparte gulls.   This man knows his gulls.  I have a little trouble with the various gulls but I know which ones are cormorants.




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After looking all around the grounds which on a rock are small, we decide to take the lighthouse tour. 

The tour includes the keeper’s house and the lighthouse itself.

That Canadian Flag wants to sit on the keeper’s roof in this wind.


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Come on in, make yourself at home.

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Thanks I will.

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Sure is a nice view from this rocking chair.

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I wish I could show the pictures they have there of the condition of the interior and exterior of this house when they took it over.  I am just amazed at the amount of work they have done and the wonderful condition it is in now.

The volunteer group is having some trouble coming up with enough period furniture for the house.  They are trying to do it in the period of the 1880’s to 1910 and have a good start upstairs and in one of the parlors.  But the kitchen appliances have been modernized so that’s in a 1950’s style.

The house has two rooms, kitchen and bath downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs. The rooms, of course, are very small. 

They plan to rent it out in the future.  Now wouldn’t that be sweet?  Spend the week-end or a week in the East Quoddy Keepers House.  Hmmm, how would you get there??  :-)


The Downstairs rooms

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Anyone remember that clock with the ticking tale??

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The upstairs bedrooms and stairwell

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How about this as a view from your bedroom??




These stairs are short and steep just like ours at the farm.

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After finishing the house tour, we head up into the tower. 


More stairs.
One set up to the second floor, one to the third and one to the light.



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On the second floor is the keeper’s room.  I do love all this old furniture.


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One last set of stairs and up through the hole in the floor to see the light.


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What a lens!  What a view of the world.
The original Fresnel lens is on display.  It was replaced in 1988 when the light house was automated.


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I guess you could call this the red light lighthouse now. 


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No one wants to leave this high perch looking over all the world.  How do they keep that glass SO clean??  But our time is up and we must come down.


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And then it’s away we must go before the tide comes in. 


It rises at 5 feet an hour and we’ve been over here for more than two hours since low tide.   I won’t take you back across all the wet stones and metal stairs again.  You can just go up to the top and read it backwards if you want.


We see the first land bridge is significantly narrower but not a problem when we come to it at 12:13pm.


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By 12:19 it looks like thisEast Quoddy Light 180




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12:44 – that’s a half hour after we start across.East Quoddy Light 190 


Water rises rapidly in this land of high tides.

We have our lunch here watching the tide rise and cover over the places we have just walked.  An hour after we were walking back through this very spot,  here is what it looks like.   If you are still over there now you’ll be staying for 8 hours and walking back in the dark.  Walking over is no picnic in the daylight.  Virtually impossible in the dark.


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On our drive back home we make a stop at the Provincial Park on Campobello Island.  This park’s land is adjacent to the International park and together they take up a bit more than 1/3 of the island.


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We drive through their campground which is very nice.  They have an electric section - no water other than to fill your tank, no sewer other than the dump station.  Cost is $28 per night American and $25.20 for senior citizens.   We’re happy where we are but this is a very lovely wooded campground with a variety of sites and many quite secluded.  It is also close to the trails and Herring Cove Beach which is where we go next.



What is this man looking forEast Quoddy Light 248



He’s marveling at the color of the sand.

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AND he’s making this beach’s rock collection displayed on the driftwood tree we are leaning against later.   This is in lieu of taking any of them home with him.


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We spend over an hour just enjoying being on this lovely beach which we have almost to ourselves.   If it weren’t for the call of dinner, we would have stayed much much longer.


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But we’ll be back.


  1. Just beautiful! Wouldn't want to stay out there too long and miss low tide!

  2. I think I would definitely want to take the boat over and back, but when I was ! younger I would have walked and rock-hopped.

  3. I'm so glad they are restoring lighthouses. Making it a place to stay over is a great idea! I sent my Mom & Dad to a lighthouse near San Francisco for their anniversary years ago. It had been turned into a little B&B. They had to take a boat over, and said it was lovely.

  4. Love it! also love Felix the Cat! haven't seen one of those clocks in eons.... What a magnificent restoration job!

    I did a low tide walk ... Provincetown? I need to look that up... scary for how interesting to know that in a few hours, it would all be under water. beautiful and again... I tell ya! nature is the bomb

  5. Hope you can see me SMILING:o)) I have wanted to walk over and tour that lighthouse both times we visited Lubec, but it just never worked out with the tides;o(( So thanks for taking me on the tour. It really is a beautiful place and the restoration is wonderful!! Just have to go back and see it for myself;o))))

  6. Now that's a cool lighthouse, and a very cool way to get to it.

  7. Lovely day and pictures.. love the quilts on those beds!!!

  8. I could hear the call of the gulls and smell the fresh sea air as I went on this tour with you. The lighthouse sure is a beauty!

    I haven't ever tried herring. I might be surprised to like it too.

  9. Way cool tour! Even with all the stairs, it was quite the trip. For some strange reason, I, too am a lighthouse aficionado.

    Don't know if I ever mentioned this, but on Marti's side of our family, there were five of her ancestors that were lighthouse keepers in MA during the late 1800's and early 1900's. Marti's mom was born in the keeper's quarters at Graves light. So it's in both our blood.

  10. What a tripy place to get to. So if you had to stay overnight could you stay for free or trade some work?

  11. Those light keepers must have used boats to get out and back. I wonder if it was seamen who put in the tricky land access route to the lighthouse as a joke to torture landlubbers who prefer to keep their feet on solid ground. HA! They do have the last laugh.

  12. how absolutely fabulous. . .we only made it out as far as the slick rocks. . .and then I accidentally erased my pics. . .so I am definitely linking to this awesome post, so I at least have YOUR pics for my journal. . .LOVED IT!

  13. I like the shadow picture and always the self portraits :) So nice to see you - wish I was there!! I would LOVE to rent that lighthouse - amazing views and cute furniture. The bedroom ceilings are even more slanted than my room at the farm! Mustard, eh? Well, it'd have to be pretty good for me to like it! I bet it is - at least that kind if you like it :) Lovely pictures. Glad you paid attention to the tides and the Hazard Extreme/Extreme Hazard!! Lovely weather day too. Neat, neat, neat.

  14. Hey girlfriend you remind me of a little mountain goat. Dont think there are too many obsticles that could stop you. Looks like you had a great time on the island

  15. I hope that the lighthouse keeper got there by boat because I cannot imagine hauling groceries over that path. I kept wondering "What are they going to do if the tide rises?" as I was looking at your pathway, but obviously, you had that under control. I want to sign up right away for renting that lighthouse. How amazing would that be? Heaven! Of course, there is a little bit of me that thinks it would make for a good Alfred Hitchcock-like movie setting, too. Hmmm . . .


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