Below are a few historic notes about light keeping at Horton Bluff. These were compiled from the following sources: Horton Point by Gordon Haliburton (a history of Avonport), personal interviews conducted by Sherman Williams with Jack Hughes (former lightkeeper), Albert (Chick) Starratt (former lightkeeper), Eva Urban (a descendant of the Rathbone family) and Lolita Crosby (widow of former lightkeeper, Bill Crosby).
Prior to 1855 (1851) Capt James Lockhart hung a lantern light from a pole and tended it twice a day. This is about the time that shipping and ship building on the Avon were becoming significent.
1855 the first Lighthouse at Horton Bluff was built. Capt James Rathburn was the lighthouse keeper. He died in 1865. An 1860 navigation chart shows a dwelling with a bay window structure for the placement of the light.
1865 Charles Edwin Rathbone, his only surving son became the lightkeeper.
1871 Charles' wife died at the lighthouse giving birth to a child.
1872 Charles remarried; his second wife was Susan Monroe, a widow.
1879 Charles Rathbone died and Susan, now his widow, continued as lightkeeper for 27 years.
1882 or 83 the lighthouse was destroyed by fire, a Rathburn child perished in the fire.
1883 to 84 The new lighthouse tower and attached dwelling was planned and built. Recently Ray Miles, a former Lighthouse Road resident, discovered that the detailed "blueprint", architect drawings, were still obtainable from a federal government source. He presented me with a copy. A photograph copy of this lighthouse was provided by Eva Urban.
1906 Lemarchant "March" Rathburn, son of Charles and Susan Rathbone, became lighthouse keeper. In the photo are Lemarchant Rathbone (with horse and buggy) and some of his family members including his mother, Susan (standing in the gateway of the pickett fence).
1921 Susan, March's, mother died.
1940 Lemarchant Rathbone died; Albert "Chick" Starratt and his wife, Eva, became the lighthouse keepers; Eva performed many of the duties because Chick had other work that frequently made it necessary for him to be away from Horton Bluff. In 2003, I visited with Chick Starratt at his West Brooklyn Rd home (now in his 80s and a widow) where I had a very pleasant conversation about their years keeping the light at Horton Bluff. He mentioned that the lighthouse had a bell that on foggy occasions was rung by hand by pulling on a rope. The special lenses and oil lamp had to be kept clean and maintained regularly by hand. [In 2005 Albert Starratt died].
1942 Starratt twins, Keith and Katherine are born at the lighthouse.
1946-47 Henry Harper is light keeper and continues as keeper through the 50's.
1960-61 Rodney Henshaw was lightkeeper.
1960-61 Plans were put into action for the construction of a new lighthouse tower and equipment room, also, two separate lighthouse keeper homes were built. By this time shipping on the Avon had been bringing in grain, fuel oil, and fertilizer ingredients which were unloaded at Hantsport and Windsor. Gypsum, pulpwood and lumber were being shipped out. Today (2005), only gypsium is being shipped from the large storage and loading facility at Hantsport.
1961 In November, the New Lighthouse began operation. Jack Hughes was appointed as temporary light keeper. The Old Horton Bluff Light and attached dwelling were bulldozed over the cliff and burned.
1962 In April, Bill Crosby from New Brunswick, was appointed as lighthouse keeper and Harris Hartlin from Avonport was appointed as the assistant. The two men with their families took up residence in the new lighthouse keeper homes.
1969 The automation process begins.
1976 A new electric horn was installed on the top of the lighthouse tower, replacing the horn that was on a separate base and produced a deeper sound from an air blast.
1979 The lighthouse assistant's position was terminated, the dwelling was sold and removed from the site.
1982 The range light that operated in conjunction with the lighthouse was moved from its former Martin Road location to a new location below Burpee Fuller's, off the Bluff Road. Changes in the "large sandbar" located in the Minas Basin, near the entrance of the Avon River, necessitated a change in the alignment of lights. A new line was cleared of obstructing trees and the new location for the range light was established.
1987 Bill Crosby was retired and was not replaced as lightkeeper at Horton Bluff. By this time Horton Bluff Light had been under full automation and electronically monitored and operated by remote control. The lightkeeper's dwelling was sold and removed.
2001-02 The horn was turned off and the fog sensor removed.
2002-03 The deisel generator was dismantled and removed.
2005 The status of the Horton Bluff Lighthouse by this time had been downgraded to "a range light", completely automated, casting a steady green light from the tower, plus a small, intense, flashing light was attached on a top of the tower, sending a light signal out over Minas Basin about every 9 seconds.
2013, July 12, the powerline to the
Horton Bluff Lighthouse was cut, deactivating the 9-sec-interval,
flashing light and the green range light in the tower. The upper range
light tower located on the hill, 0.5 km south of the lighthouse was
also removed.This brought to a close 162 years of light-signalling service from this location.
It also can be noted that in the three
or four years prior to 2013 no commercial shipping had been taking
place in any Minas Basin ports such as gypsium from the Hantsport
loading facility. (SW)