The Swallowtail Lighthouse is located on an isolated peninsula at the northern tip of the community of North Head, Grand Manan Island.The Grand Manan ferries come around this point as they approach the dock. To islanders and visitors, the lighthouse is a symbol that they have arrived on Grand Manan Island.
Access to this location is down very steep cement stairs, across a footbridge over a deep gully and a walk on a gravel path over hilly ground. There’s a large two-storey lightkeeper’s residence and one-and-a-half storey boathouse that sits on a grassy area on the cliff top. On the hilly peninsula beyond the house is Swallowtail Lighthouse.
Swallowtail Light was first lit in 1860. The current Light Keeper’s House was built in 1958 to replace the existing accommodations. This large two-storey building was a duplex for the light keeper and family on one side and the light keeper’s assistant and family on the other side.
There were wooden walkways to the light house from the keeper’s residence. In bad wind storms, the families had to keep checking the walkway to make sure it was still intact. In 1986, Swallowtail Lighthouse was automated and the Light Keeper’s House was closed. The house was turned over to the Village of Grand Manan by the Canadian Government. From 1997 to 2003, the Light Keeper’s House was leased and run as a seasonal bed and breakfast called “Swallowtail Inn”. From 2003 to 2007, the building was closed. Through 2008-2009, a group of interested Grand Manan residents formed The Swallowtail Keepers Society to work to preserve this integral part of the Island’s heritage.
The original one-and-a-half storey boathouse pre-dates the current Light Keeper’s House dating possibly from the 1860’s. It is built on posts covered in a wooden skirt. The uneven doors on the southern end of the building were used to facilitate the moving in and out of a skiff. This simple utilitarian building has seen very little retrofit over the years.