How one man decided that he was going to try and preserve history and something that was important to him.
In 1992, Dennison was teaching high school physics and discovering the thrill of challenging young minds to push their limits. His favourite activities were climbing, canoeing, and hiking and he frequently found himself pursuing these interests at Cape Enrage. Not only were the cliffs perfect for climbing, but the landscape and lighthouse reminded him of home. That spring, he discovered the Cape Enrage light keeper's dwelling was to be demolished.
"During the summer, this weighed heavily on my mind. What could I do that would make this property viable, yet protect, preserve, and promote it? Finally, I sat down with a pad of paper and started writing ideas. I ended up with five or six pages and a plan for an environmental school project connected to the Cape."
His vision was an outdoor adventure program, powered by students, that would teach them the skills of running a business, encourage appreciation of environment and heritage, and generate enough profits to maintain and preserve a cherished piece of the past.
Thus began a storm-tossed course through a tangle of government bureaucracy and regulations that tested the depth of his commitment and fortitude. But in the end, Cape Enrage Adventures emerged as a flagship model for promoting alternative uses for all light stations and an example of what can be accomplished with perseverance and commitment.
It has now been 13 years since the first high school students began restoration work. The lighthouse still sends out its signals of light and sound, while the once-derelict light keeper's dwelling houses a kitchen, tearoom, bedrooms for staff, and offices. An additional residence and a gift shop were constructed, stairs descend to the beach, and white picket fences gleam with fresh paint. Approximately 40,000 people visit each summer.
I hear that back in Toronto the paint is melting off the walls. Too bad. This morning I had to buy a sweater at the gift shop in Cape Enrage, NB, because of the chill in the air. It was a fresh and perfect day to sit on the rocky beach that is Cape Enrage and watch the Bay of Fundy (the 3rd wonder of Canada) come in. I was shocked that I was the only one there.
June could be the perfect month for visiting the east coast. The tourists have not yet discovered this place, and it really is untouched wilderness. If you ever get a chance to visit New Brunswick, you should make the drive to Cape Enrage and support the students, and a teacher's dream come true.