On June 26, 1811, Simeon Perkins, a diarist from Liverpool, Nova Scotia, recorded a pleasant trip to inspect the lighthouse, Coffin Island Lighthouse, being built on the island at the entrance to Liverpool Bay: "they have dug for the foundation ... there is a kind of Moss & turf on the surface then about two feet deep comes to a hard pan ... which I think will be a good bottom to Build the Foundation upon - it is about 90 feet from the Sea Wall ... at present the distance is very well but there may be some danger as the wood is cut away, of the Sea wearing away the land in time".
Liverpool in this period was the second most active port in Nova Scotia and enjoying a trade boom thanks to the Embargo Acts which channeled a large amount of US commerce through Nova Scotian ports. An impressive achievement for a growing community, the lighthouse was the only beacon between Sambro at Halifax, and Cape Roseway at Shelburne, which along with the light at Brier Island, made up all the lights in the province (aside from the ruins of the old French lighthouse at Louisbourg, Canada's first).
The lighthouse stood on the south end of the mile-long island, itself only a mile from the nearest mainland village at Beach Meadows. At the north end of the island, a small seasonal fishing harbour stood, and still stands, connected to the light by a road cut through the woods. Known as Bear Island in Perkin's time, it became known as Coffin Island by the 1817s after Peleg Coffin, one of the founding settlers in Liverpool and a large landowner on the island.
Prophetic words! A hundred and eighty seven years later the successor to the lighthouse that Perkins helped found, standing on the fifth oldest lighthouse site in all of Nova Scotia, is on the edge of succumbing to the sea which has eroded up to it and around it. 1/8 of the base is undermined. The Canadian Coast Guard plans to replace the light with a buoy and has proposed demolishing the tower as a safety hazard. It is feared that the light will topple in a winter storm. The newly formed Coffin Island Lighthouse Heritage Society has won a one year reprieve on demolition to give time to find a way to save the tower and protect its site.
Liverpool where history remains alive