History of The Horton Bluff Lighthouse

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 was 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.

April 1883 the lighthouse was destroyed by fire, a Rathburn child perished in the fire.

June 1883 to October 1883 The new lighthouse tower and attached dwelling was planned and built. Recently Raye Myles, a former Lighthouse Road resident, discovered that the detailed “blueprint”, architect drawings, were still obtainable from a federal government source.

1906 Lemarchant “March” Rathburn, son of Charles and Susan Rathbone, became lighthouse keeper. In the photo on the home page 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, Sherman Williams visited with Chick Starratt at his West Brooklyn Rd home (then in his 80s and a widow) where Sherman 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. Since the 1980’s only gypsum has been from the large storage and loading facility at Hantsport. In January 2011 the Gypsum company announced they would no longer be shipping product from the Hantsport facility.

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. A shift in the “sandbar” in the Minas Basin 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 Presently the status of the Horton Bluff Lighthouse has been downgraded to “a range light”, casting a steady green light from the tower and a small, intense, flashing light still sends a light signal out over Minas Basin about every 9 seconds.

2010 The Horton Bluff Lighthouse was declared surplus by the Canadian Government.