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Our History

Big Tub Lighthouse Orchid Festival Flowerpot Island Lightstation Light Keeper’s Host Program

The History Of The Friends...

Back before the National Parks came to Tobermory the Fathom Five Provincial Park had a vibrant volunteer community involved in all manner of projects supporting the regional interests of the time. The cultural history of the area was a big draw for many visitors interested in a place the past century had done little to erase. Scuba diving was also a major attractor. Beginners came for checkout weekends” on shallow safe wrecks. More advanced divers explored the wealth of marine heritage represented by both the natural environment and the shipwrecks in the area. The early diving days were a hunter’s dream with new wrecks located and charted every season. Lighthouses factored in the human and marine environments and remain some of the area’s most splendid cultural icons.

The original Friends of Fathom Five were responsible for many in-town enhancements including the building of the boardwalk and dive platform along the harbour across from the Grandview Motel. If you notice blue interpretive kiosks with historical information while strolling around town, you’ll be seeing further work of the original friends. And of course, the museum and host house at Flowerpot Island have been ongoing projects of the group throughout relationships with both parks.

When the National Parks deal was struck in 1987, the Friends extended their relationship and name to Friends of the Bruce District Parks” to respond to the opportunities of working with both the marine and land-based parks.

Big Tub Lighthouse

The walkway to Big Tub Light was installed by the Friends and funds continue to be provided for its yearly maintenance.

Orchid Festival

The Orchid Festival, in early June was started 15 years ago, in partnership with The National Park, to give locals and visitors an opportunity to participate in guided hikes and workshops which highlight the many varieties of orchids and wildflowers found on the Bruce Peninsula.
This festival helps boosts the local economy by bringing people to the area in the low season.

Click here for to get more information from the Orchid Festival website.

Flowerpot Island Light Station

In the winter of 1995, concern over the deteriorating condition of the abandoned light station on Flowerpot Island sparked an interest among volunteers with the Friends of Fathom Five.

In the spring of 1996, working in co-operation with the Canadian Coast Guard and Fathom Five National Marine Park this group of dedicated volunteers set to work refurbishing the site and the work continues to this day!
For the past twenty plus years, thanks to the generous support and efforts of volunteers and partners, many major projects have been undertaken at the station. Both houses have received new steel roofs along with many coats of paint over the years, a composting toilet has been built, gardens have been reestablished, displays have been developed for the museum and a small shop, offering cold drinks, small snacks, and unique gift items for the visitors has been opened. The lightstation has also gone ‘off the grid’ and all power to the site is solar!

Light Keeper’s Host Program

In addition to the renovation work, the Friends started the Light Keeper’s Host Program in 1996. Volunteers live at the light station for three days at a time, while providing interpretative services to visitors. They also operate a small shop and keep up with the daily chores. Visitation to the light station has grown from 5,000 visitors twenty years ago to over 15,000 people representing 42 countries in 2014.