Over the past few weeks, we have undertaken most of the 2017 Conservation Strategy Pilot Project down at the lighthouse. The process has not gone as smoothly as we had hoped for in terms of our findings. But, this is just a small step forward that could result in large steps towards finishing the project in the immediate months ahead.
On Friday, Oct. 20; it was agreed by the major concerned parties (Ontario Parks, PPLPS and our Heritage Masonry Consultant & Engineer) to stop further work on the lighthouse due to these findings as shown by the photos below.
These are only two of several photographs that were taken of the severe cracking at all heights of the lighthouse. Please note that some of the arrows only show missing or deteriorated mortar and not actual cracking of the stones… As we have suggested in past commentaries, the original design was subject to flaws and certainly the severe cracking at the top of the arched windows are a result of this. But, there was also deep cracking of the limestone structure in several other parts of the lighthouse. This level of cracking was not evident on the interior, although most of the walls are covered with plaster. There was evidence of multiple attempts at repairs of the cracks within the exterior masonry.
Now, the first question that has been asked…. “Is the lighthouse in danger of falling down?” Absolutely not. We were very surprised and certainly pleased, to see how well the wooden girdle has stood the test of time and is showing no evidence of wood rot or weakness – it is certainly doing its intended job. So now, we have to believe that when the girdle was installed nearly one and a half centuries ago, much of the cracking may have already happened.
We also have found at least two of the supporting metal rods surrounding the lighthouse… there may be others that are buried behind the wooden girdle. The ones we observed showed no evidence of rusting deterioration which is also good news.
And the next question that has been asked – “do we continue with the Pilot Project” and the answer to that is no. We will not proceed with the other tests that included low pressure injection of new grouting, or the use of the Ground Penetrating Resonance equipment. Our heritage Engineer – Mark Shoalts and our Consultant – Paul Jeffs felt there was no benefit in continuing with these and instead concentrate on what is next.
So, the obvious question is – what is next? We continue on with the project but with a more defined route to ensure our lighthouse is still standing 150 years from now. We always knew that in the end, we would end up with a lighthouse that would have either the original limestone walls with no shakes or the lighthouse would be covered with new shakes. And, now, there is now no question – the lighthouse will be covered with white shakes.
In terms of shakes, there are two options that we are considering – the use of natural (but prefinished in white) cedar shakes or the use of composite shakes made of wood but impregnated with white paint. The two are essentially the same in terms of looks but the composite has a life expectancy of at least 50 years (as compared to perhaps 20 yrs with the natural shakes) and the composite will not have a need of major maintenance during that 50 years. The cost is similar in both cases.
Given the lateness of the year, and the lack of availability of suitable shakes, we will leave the scaffolding erected over the winter months. During that time, we know of at least one supplier of the composite shake that will manufacture our needs for us (this white coloured shake are not a normal stock item and in fact, thus far, we can only find one firm that does this in the colour white.)
Where does that leave us in terms of our fundraising requirements? Fortunately, we do have some cost savings in the Pilot Project as we did not proceed with several tests that were part of the Pilot Project. Plus there are more savings as we do not have to install most of the protective plywood as we now have a definitive action plan and we are confident of minimal moisture damage over the winter months. We may need some temporary plywood at the bottom of the lighthouse – more as a security viewpoint.
On the otherhand, we now have to pay significant rental costs of the scaffolding for the winter months. Just for the record, erecting the scaffolding was the major portion of our Pilot Project budget costing just over $90k (including dismantling). And, rent won’t be cheap as some modifications may need to be made for the winter ahead.
And, of course, there is the cost of the shakes and the labour involved in installing them. It is too soon to give an estimate on this cost as we will have to go to tender and determine the best costs and installation firms. We should have that number before December if all goes well.
In addition to the installation of the shakes, PPLPS are continuing their desire to have the original gothic arches restored when they are putting the shakes back up – this is not a structural issue (no impact on existing masonry, etc) but does require creating an arch shape opening over the existing window frames through the wood cladding.
The above extra costs will mean we will certainly need to continue our fundraising as we suspect we will be short between $30-$50k to finish up the project properly.
And finally, we are working with our Heritage Engineer, Mark Shoalts on the installation of a new cupola atop the lighthouse. We do have approval from DFO (Dept of Fisheries) who “manage” the existing light beacon. The DFO’s only concern was that the cupola cannot have a negative impact on the lumen distribution of their light. Our concern is more related to the concern of the wind force on the cupola during a wind storm and possible damage to the lighthouse structure. Mark Shoalts will be working on that study over the coming weeks and we should also have an answer before year end.
We do not know the cost of the cupola at this time but the good news is that we may have a potential donor to cover $25k of this particular cost if it proceeds.
So, to put a further comment about our funds… we will need to continue our fundraising and with that in mind, we are looking at four areas for the balance of 2017 & into 2018. And, as stated earlier, the lighthouse project may very well be completed in its entirety by early Fall, 2018 if all goes well.
With Christmas coming up, we are asking our membership and general public to seriously consider becoming a “Lifetime Member” which requires a total cash donation of $500 to PPLPS. To clarify, it is a total cash donation of $500… some of us may have already donated say $200 already and so, another $300 this year will get you there as a Lifetime Member. And, of course, you get your charitable tax receipt for the entire amount. There may not be a better Christmas present you can give to yourself or your family knowing you have played an important role in restoring the lighthouse. Your financial support will be permanently recorded on our Donor wall (or similar display) that will be erected upon completion of the project.
In 2018, we will continue with our ongoing annual membership drives and having over 200 individual and corporate members, we know this will generate nearly $5,000.
During the past few months, we have had good success in searching out corporate support… we won $30k from our on-line voting and fundraiser program via “This Place Matters” and are anxiously waiting to see if we become one of the finalists in the “Aviva Community Fund” program. We did not have the same success in the “Tangarine” vote but we will continue to search out new opportunities and that also involves writing letters of financial support to various larger corporations in the coming weeks.
And, finally, mark Saturday, June 23, 2018 on your calendar… this is the date of our fundraising evening full of great food, music, dancing and of course a live and silent auction. Our theme for this event is “Re-Living The Past” and in particular the 50’s and 60’s. If all goes to plan, this could be our last major fundraising event. More details will follow in the coming months on this event… but, if you have something to donate before then, feel free to let coordinator Dave Sharp know at 613-475-5109 or via email at DSharp@pplps.ca or connect with us on FB. We had a huge success in November, 2016 at our Gala and we expect this one to be even bigger, better and more “profitable” for PPLPS as we work towards the final aspects of “Keep Our Light Shining”