More than just a “picture book”

Lighthouses of Nova Scotia, penned by Fall River’s Allan Billard, provides glimpse of NS's past

FALL RIVER: What started out to be a story book on the stories behind the many lighthouses in Nova Scotia quickly turned into a picture book on them. And author Allan Billard is just fine with that.

Sipping a coffee inside the quaint sitting area at Good Day Kitchen & Cafe, Billard spoke of what his motivation was to relay the stories in his recently released book, Lighthouse of Nova Scotia. It was launched in late October with the Halifax waterfront as his backdrop.

“It’s the stories of the people that contributed to building the sites, maintaining them, and also more importantly its the people seeing new life in them,” said Billard.

But now there are community groups coming forward to turn those lighthouses into a tourist attraction to benefit the local areas.

“There’s a group down the Eastern Shore that says they could have an artist retreat; a photographer; or a landscape artist or a water colour artists could do amazing things here,” he said. “Then there are people who say there’s nothing to attract tourists here. Well, why don’t we have a nice tea house or picnic area, or a bed and breakfast.

“I wanted to tell those stories and celebrate Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotians who are trying to breath a future into their home.”

The recent retiree said it didn’t take as long as it could have—because of the numerous other books available on lighthouses. Lighthouses of Nova Scotia is published by FORMAC Publishing Company Limited. The book is available at retail book stores everywhere.

“When the publisher came to me and wanted me to do a book on lighthouses, I said “I think there are a lot of those.” He said that was good and bad,” said Billard. “What the publisher told me was “Allan, your a story teller. You like to look into people’s lives and share their hopes and dreams. That’s what this book should be about.”

He said it took him about six to eight months to phone around and then drive out to visit some lighthouses, like the one along the shore which he was trying to figure out how he was going to tell people where it was.

“There were all kinds of those little day trips,” Billard said. “There’s nothing nicer than to go down to Liverpool, look for the road that goes out the shore and see if you can find the lighthouse that’s supposed to be at the end of the road.”

Billard said there’s so much focus on the city, the airport, and modern technology, we often forget about how we got here .

“When you go to Sambro Island and the lighthouse there has been there since General Wolfe sailed out of Halifax to go fight on the Plains of Abraham,” he said. “That’s pretty neat.”

He then recalled about going to Louisbourg, standing on the grounds of the lighthouse and seeing the fortress, seeing the harbour, just the same that sailors in that era would have seen.

“It’s kind of neat to say your from Nova Scotia and you can still see what it looked like when your Great Great Great grandfather came on,” said Billard. “That was the cool part about doing the book.”

Billard said when he started the book, it was supposed a story book, but thanks to some great photographers it turned into much more. He admits it is a picture book.

“People say to me it’s a lovely picture book,” he said. “It’s great when people come back to me and say they bought this wonderful picture book, but it turned out to be a story book. That’s what’s neat for me.”