Day Two: Q and A with Paul Morralee
Q: What got you interested in lighthouses in the first place?
A: Wasn’t actually the lighthouses per se, but the fact that we live here in Northwestern Ontario in a remarkable area that few even around here get to experience beyond the environs of where they live. To get people out, you need a destination, and that’s what to me, the lighthouses are. They’re a place for refuge, it’s what people can do once they get here that makes them special.
Q: Where did the idea of a lighthouse trail come from?
A: It’s a natural extension of the chain that’s here already.
Q: Does the myth of the lake match the reality of the lake?
A: No. When you think of Superior you think of Edmund Fitzgerald, cold water, and danger, but the reality is there are quiet days, glorious sunsets, and you can enjoy the solitude. A lake this large is an enigma, a mystery, and we can’t quite fathom what it all means.
Q: So is there a is there a gentler corollary to that iconic Gordon Lightfoot song?
A: The Group of Seven paintings.
Q: Where would you and the Board like to be 5 to 7 years from know with CLLS?
A: I would hope to see that the lighthouse group has provided more access to Lake Superior Lighthouses. First of all, that means figuring out transportation that can make it more feasible to actually reach Porphyry and the other lights.
Q: Once here what will they find?
A: They will be surprised by the variety of things, it has a great light, it has a great panoramic view. A lot of unexpected gems, like peeling back an onion you find one layer yields a treasure to another.
Q: Tell us a little about the artist in residence programme.
A: The idea is to have visitors see where you are in a different context, and it engages a visitor, and you want to enhance the visitor experience. The values brought forth from our first artist-in-residence, Gail Buzzi, was the way she made you look at all the constituent parts by taking rocks, plants, stones, charts, and the like in composing a work. The Artist in Resident adds another tread to the visitor experience which in the end provides a stronger fabric of the lighthouse experience.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a board?
A: Certainly not enthusiasm! Managing the detail of moving ahead, getting the work done, especially when you’re on a tight timeline and making sure we’re in proper compliance with provincial and federal authorities requires agility but we’re certainly moving the right way.
Q: What about the history?
A: At the end of the day, lighthouses still have a function but there is an historical resonance that has maybe even superseded their practical purpose. The lighthouse, like the canoe and railroad was an essential instrument in helping build the country. I hope we can continue to build the history for future generations to share.
Photo Credit: Lois Nuttall