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Saint John, New Brunswick
LOCAL STORIES

   We at WebWise Inc. are very concerned about our cities heritage and it's traditions. For this reason we feel obligated to publish the latest feedback on the loss of our Foghorn. If you wish to publish your concerns please let us know, the more noise the better!...

The letters below were taken from the opinions page of the Times Globe, May 20/98

Making NOISE about our silent Foghorn

Foghorn on Partridge Island

Foghorn was city's signature

   Bureaucrats sure know how to take away part of the soul of a community.

   I heard the bad news on TV. A Coast Guard spokesman named Hope (his name sure wasn't appropriate) announced that an important part of the history and ambiance of your great city -the foghorn on Partridge Island - is to be permanently silenced. Mr. Hope: Say it isn't so!

   From 1962 to 1966, we lived just off Sand Cove Road on the West Side. Some of our fondest memories of what Bliss Carman called that "peerless hearted port of heroes" were the sounds that emanated from the harbour. There were ships blowing whistles for tug assistance, and, in the morning and evening, you could set your watch by the dulcet tones of the twin whistles of the Princess ships as they cleared or entered port.

   But Robert Foulis' foghorn was Saint John's signature. It was a deep basso profundo, not like those sissy, high-pitched electronic freaks which now are heard around our coastline. It had a sedative effect, and it lulled us to sleep on many a foggy night. I can't imagine Saint John being the same without it.

   If I were living in Saint John now, I'd be leading the fight for its retention. I anticipate that all you genial and amiable Saint Johners soon become disagreeable and irritable due to lack of sleep.

   Who cares about the foghorn's utility for modern navigation? It's the nostalgia that counts here!

ELWIN HEMPHILL
Pictou, N.S.
rvanveen@istar.ca

We LOVE Our Foghorn - don't dismantle it!

   Please print this letter, a copy of one sent to Fisheries Minister David Anderson:

   We have been advised that the foghorn on Partridge Island has been turned off by your department. Furthermore, the Canadian Coast Guard will be dismantling it. This, in our opinion, is an outrage.

   Robert Foulis invented the foghorn and the coding system that went with it in Saint John. These inventions have been credited as the greatest saver of seamen's lives and ships worldwide until the invention of radar. The first system was placed on Partridge Island. This means that this foghorn has not only local but national and international significance.

   We love our foghorn. So do our tourists. We have boasted, and rightfully so, about it for years.

   Historical buildings receive protection from the federal government. This foghorn, as mentioned previously, has worldwide significance. Instead of shutting it off and dismantling it, we are asking for the foghorn to be protected and also that Partridge Island, which as you know, has Canadian historic significance, receive the protection and funding from the federal government which it so truly deserves. Partridge Island was there to receive our ancestors when they immigrated to this great country. It was also there to protect us during two world wars.

   Please review the decision to turn off the foghorn and dismantle it. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

ROBERT DONOVAN
623 Charles Street West,

LINDA NICKERSON
617 Charles Street West,
Saint John, N.B.

This Poem pays tribute to Partridge Island

   I wrote this poem about 30 years ago when I used to take my children to Bayshore during summer holidays. I've always kept it hoping that some day I might use it.

   After seeing the paper ("Fog but no horn", May 5), I thought I would send it and perhaps you might publish it. Thank you very much.

Partridge Island

At the entrance to harbour
Long before Saint John was named,
This old island stood as sentinel
In the days before Champlain.

Many storms and gales it weathered
many bleak and foggy nights,
Perhaps a ship-wrecked sailor ventured
Long before the Beacon Light.

Then a Scot named Robert Foulis
Settled here and gained renown,
by erecting there a foghorn
At the entrance to Parrtown.

It holds many untold secrets
of war days and others seen,
How Irish immigrants were buried
When they died in quarantine.

It has seen the Marco Polo
Square-rigged masts of bygone days,
The Loyalist spring and summer fleets
and merchant vessel Jervis Bay.

Now, today, a rocky causeway
Links it with Fort Dufferin's sands,
Through the night it blinks its signal
Guiding ships of foreign lands.

Not a townsman, tourist or sailor
Hasn't heard that mournful sound,
Of the foghorn on the island
Warning "Peril!", "Danger!", "Ground!"

by D. ERNESTINE SMITH
333 Martello Road,
Saint John, N.B.

Latest Updates From Concerned Citizens

Turning off foghorn magnifies city's neglect

   Please print this letter, a copy of one sent to federal Fisheries Minister David Anderson:

   I fully realize the subject I am writing to you about may seem trivial in nature, however, it is something that I do feel should be addressed. The foghorn at Partridge Island at the entrance to Saint John Harbor, as you may or may not know, has been casually turned off like a light switch in a dusty old basement.

   The Department of Fisheries and Oceans may have casually flipped the switch, but to a Saint Johner who grew up with the sound of that foghorn, a piece of me was switched off, too.

   Saint John was once the centre of shipbuilding steeped in tradition, history and pride coupled with a world-class port and spin-off employment. Since the collapse of both, Saint John has been graced with chronic unemployment, a problem a lot of people who live there attribute to federal trading and transportation policy, and more recently the refusal of the federal Industry Minister to recognize the fact our country requires a national shipbuilding policy

   What has this got to do with a foghorn, you ask? I believe the foghorn may act as a lighting rod, one which magnifies the neglect that the city, and, in fact, the entire region has suffered as a result of federal governments who are more interested in Ontario and Quebec, (i.e. votes) than anything else.

   People in Saint John feel that your government has done very little for the city and the region as a whole. As trivial as it may sound, that foghorn represents what the city of Saint John has meant, or in some cases not meant, to Canada. A simple switch to be turned off without consideration for the history of the city or its people.

   The world's first foghorn was invented in Saint John, an invention that has been replicated around the world, and has saved countless lives. It should also be mentioned that a good number of pleasure boaters still do not use radar. Tourist also like the foghorn. When they pay to see the city and can't, as a result of fog, the least they should get is a blast from the foghorn to take home with them.

   Does this compare to the employment problems in the manufacturing, shipbuilding or retail industry, or even more recently the needless announcement of the closure of the Lantic Sugar Refinery (another poor policy decision)? No, not even close. However, by turning the foghorn back on, the government can send a symbolic message of hope to Saint John and her residents for the future.

   The message would be that with the new millennium, neglect from the federal government as well as their provincial cousins, can, and will not be tolerated, and that there is a hope for the future for Saint John and her residents as long as all concerned parties, public and private, work together to ensure it.

   (Please be advised the opinions expressed are solely the opinion of the author and do not in any way, shape or form represent Public Works and Government Services Canada, or any other organization in or outside the federal government of Canada.)

JOHN TRAINOR
8-535A Wilfrid Lavigne Boulevard, Aylmer, Que.
John. Trainor@pwgsc.gc.ca

Foghorn tells you that you're home

   Like many Saint Johners, I can't perceive our cherished foggy city without its foghorn.

   The letters to the editor on May 20 regarding the silencing of the foghorn brought back sweet memories of childhood to me. I can still hear that distinctive moan lulling me to sleep.

   Several years ago, such memories prompted me to write the enclosed poem when, after living away from Saint John for many years, a return visit found me laying in bed listening to that familiar sound, a sound that definitely implied "you're home".

   As one of your readers put it, Saint John will never be the same without it. Perhaps the poem will evoke sweet memories for some of your other readers.

THE FOGHORN

The fog lies thick along the bay
It blankets every form in sight
A heavy mist, profound and grey
It lingers on both day and night.

The foghorn blows, an eerie sound
To strangers mingling in our midst
But native sons have somehow found
It soothing comfort in the mist.

The horn is like a mother's call
Sometimes a shout when danger's near
But more, it means a watchful eye
When all is well, have no fear.

And most of all, it says "you're home"
Be it the fog has made you blind
And though the sun shines when you roam
It can't replace the foghorn's cry.

SANDRA CURRIE
Bayswater, N.B.

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