Monday, August 11, 2008

What if Cape Enrage Loses its Spirit?

This weekend, I paid a visit to Dennison and Ann Tate, who operate the lighthouse, tearoom, adventures and interpretive programs at Cape Enrage. I have this small - and very special - list of people who stay true to their beliefs, give selflessly and act courageously and this pair are certainly on that list.

For sixteen years, they’ve given their spirit and time and vision to develop one of the most beautiful places in Canada – the Cape Enrage Lighthouse. Together, and with considerable financial risk, they took it from derelict eyesore to an innovative adventure and interpretive model that is innovative, sustainable and truly unique.

It’s a place of learning and growth. It’s a place to breathe raw nature and beauty, to encounter challenge, to test one’s mettle, to experience the exhilaration of personal achievement. Visitors come here to see the Fundy coast at it's most formidable and spectacular. Youth and adults from all over come here for outdoor training and to challenge themselves – whether for survival, education and adventure skills, emergency preparedness, or rope and climbing training.

But the Tate's commitment goes much deeper than that. Through example, they’ve encouraged a personal creed of sharing and service amongst the young people who work and learn at the site; a culture and attitude that has changed many lives and set many paths. In this sense, they are not just keepers of the lighthouse, but keepers of our future.

The sad part is that Dennison and Ann are tired, now. They’ve been the heart and soul of Cape Enrage for too long – every powerful heartbeat now drains them. It’s time to step back and make room for the next generation of visionaries. That, at least, is their hope.

The Tates presented an innovative succession plan to the Province of NB and now await a decision. Will the Province share the beauty of this vision? Or will it sterilize it with bureaucracy? Or squelch it entirely?

All of us here in this region – those who value our wild and beautiful spaces - wait breathlessly. The nature of a lighthouse is to be a beacon in times of trouble and it serves its purpose best in the midst of tumult. Cape Enrage has certainly been a beacon for youth. And it's weathered its fair share of tumult through its history. Can it weather this?

Cape Enrage is so much more than a tourist attraction. It’s where spirit and land and people exist together in synergy. And this is something to cherish and protect.

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