We Need Every Penny We Can Get, Says Five Mile Light Fundraisers

The chair of the Five Mile Light rebuild committee says rising waters now have to be factored into the cost of the lighthouse rebuild.

Bob Runciman says the rising waters over the last few years means engineers can't let them build off the original foundation on the shoal. They also have to raise it about two feet, to take into account the last few years of flooding.

It's an unexpected cost.

"The foundation is just too damaged. It's certainly not what we were hoping for," explains Runciman of the new developments. "The engineers won't sign off on it."

The lighthouse, known as Five Mile Light, was destroyed by fire following a lightning strike in July 2018. It was one of the last remaining and oldest wooden lighthouses of its era.

Right now, the committee has raised about $160,000 of their $200,000 goal.

Runciman says the new development means the volunteer committee will need every penny they can get from fundraising initiatives.

"We're not sure how much this is going to cost, we're talking shoals, we're talking working off of barges," he explains. "So that's a big unknown right now."

That original fundraising total was based off what volunteer engineers told them would be required. That includes the new lighthouse, which will be built on the land and then moved onto the shoal.

The new lighthouse will be almost identical to the pre-fire structure "to satisfy provincial reconstruction permits."

Runciman says that if they can surpass the original goal, that will help with including a maintenance reserve fund for the township of Elizabethtown-Kitley to look after the lighthouse in future years.

"If we can surpass that $200,000 goal that would make us more comfortable for sure," he says.

The committee would like to see the structure built as soon as possible, and hopes the new foundation work can begin once the water goes down.

Runciman expects that when the work does start on the shoal it will take about a week, but it's the final cost of that foundation remains a mystery.

The community has come out to support, including the Burnbrae Farms Foundation, who announced in May that they will match, dollar for dollar, all future donations up to $30,000.

St. Lawrence College has donated a new glass dome, which was on the original lighthouse built 162 years ago, but missing from it when it burned down.

Via Rail has also donated to the cause, they have put up a round-trip ticket for a family to go to Halifax, for residents to bid on.

"I'm increasingly optimistic," says Runciman of the donations.

For further information and to donate, go to the Five Mile Light website, call Elizabethtown-Kitley Township at 613-345-7480, or visit their Facebook page Five Mile Lighthouse.



Correction: The lighthouse will be built on the shore, not the foundation of the lighthouse. The original story that aired on the news on Thursday, June 6, 2019 said the foundation plans to be built on the shore, but that must be built on the shoal itself. The story has been corrected and clairified.