Campobello Island Lighthouse

October 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Campobello Island Lighthouse -

The lighthouse is only accessible at very low tide and located just a few miles from what was once Franklin D. Roosevelt's summer cottage on Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada. Situated precariously on the very north end of a small islet at Head Harbour on the Bay of Fundy 9.2 miles from the U.S. / Canada border just north of Lubec, Maine, the island is only reached by crossing over the FDR Memorial Bridge leading from Lubec. The entire island is a dead-end, so the only way off the island is the way you came in. The 40 square mile island has 925 permanent residents whose main livelihood is fishing. Life here is quiet and serene. No one is in any hurry to go anywhere or do anything. This is rural life at its finest ! The historic Roosevelt family thought so too because they had owned property on this island since 1883, vacationed here every summer including President Roosevelt who had known this island since he was one year old. In August 1921 while staying in his 34 room "cottage" he had purchased on the island, Roosevelt was diagnosed with Polio; the disease that crippled him for the remainder of his life. 

The 1960 movie "Sunrise at Campobello" starring Ralph Bellamy and Hume Cronyn is filmed on the island and on the Roosevelt estate in Hyde Park New York. It begins in 1921 when FDR was stricken and paralyzed with polio while vacationing on the island and shows his rise to power up to the 1924 Democratic National Convention. He would continue his rise to power to become the 32nd president of the United States, spanning from 1933 until his death in 1945. 

The Campobello Island Lighthouse was only Canada's second lighthouse at the time and is also known as East Quoddy Lighthouse and Head Harbor Light Station. The main tower exterior is shingled wood and still stands since built in 1829. It has a third-order fresnel lens that displays as a steady red light which can be seen 13 nautical miles out to sea. The symbolic red cross of "warrior saint" St. George is painted on it's 51 foot high tapered tower wall as a channel daymarker for passing ships trying to navigate the Bay of Fundy and Passamaquoddy Bay.

When my wife and I first arrived at the Canadian border on Campobello Island, we told the border patrol we would only stay a few hours, but they thought that suspicious and odd. To the point that we were asked to park the car and go inside for what amounted to a one hour question/answer session, most of which amounted to just waiting. Odd you might say ? Seemed odd to us anyway since the lighthouse, we thought, was a tourist attraction after all ! Nonetheless, the visit to this remote rural Canadian island and the resulting photographs were worth the interrogation process. We looked and acted like a typical American couple from southern Orange County California. But seems strange enough I guess when you think about it. . . here we were, all the way from California to a remote New Brunswick Canada island just to look at a lighthouse that has been there since 1829.


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