Marine Heritage Society of Chantry Island celebrates 20 years of volunteerism


Heading out to Chantry Island

As summer begins to come to a close, the volunteers of Chantry Island begin to prepare the Island for its long winter.

For 20 years, the Marine Heritage Society (MHS) (Saugeen Shores) formerly the Propeller Club, has maintained Chantry Island with its Imperial lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters.

What started out as an ambitious project by a handful of retirees in Southampton has become a world-renowned example of perseverance. While the MHS is all about the Island, it has also spawned a variety of fundraising efforts to numerous to mention but that include the Chantry Island Cham-bettes, a local group of philanthropic women who have fundraised for more than 60 years giving all funds back to the community, to the fundraising effort to save the Saugeen River Range Light and the now renowned Marine Heritage Festival.

The volunteer organization not only maintains the lighthouse and Island but also conducts tours to the Island each summer, as it is the only designated organization allowed to do so given that the Island is also a government sanctioned Bird Sanctuary where numbers of visitors are restricted.

Working with the Town of Saugeen Shores and as a volunteer-driven project, Chantry Island has become a model of what can be done through the dedication and commitment of volunteers and has, in fact, become known as a ‘beacon of inspiration‘.

On Saturday, August 27th, the MHS held its annual Volunteer Recognition event opened by the Mayor of Saugeen Shores, Luke Charbonneau, at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre (BCM&CC) where members of the group were recognized for their dedication and work.

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The evening also included a performance by the multi-talented entertainer, David Archibald, who enthralled the audience with his ‘marine folksy’ tunes and had the audience participating in several of them.  Archibald has long been a summer resident of Southampton and has also entertained at several fundraising productions for Chantry Island over the past years.

It was an evening enjoyed by approximately 100 Chantry Island volunteers.  For 20 years, the MHS, which began as the simple Propeller Club of a handful of retired seniors who singlehandedly set about to restore Chantry Island, has had almost 250 volunteers over the years, from Captains of the tour boat The Peerless to Island gardening crews, Keeper’s Quarter cleaning crews and Lighthouse maintenance.

Archibald closed the evening with the very suitable ‘Goodnight Irene’ with audience participation.