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Kincardine Magic


Community. It was something that I felt like I had been lacking in my life for a long time. Well, that and space. When my partner and I embarked on our New Home journey, those where two really important factors in our search. And the lake, of course.


We made the decision to move to Kincardine after being here for a grand total of two hours, having never heard of it before. Seemingly on a whim we uprooted our lives, hugged our family and friends, packed up all of our things and moved to a town where we didn’t know one living soul. 


Seriously. Were we crazy? Maybe. Or is there something magical about this creative little beach town we now call home? I vote for both! A little bit of crazy combined with a little bit of magic led us to meet an incredible group of people in a little pocket of paradise. We now have both a growing community and a whole bunch of space to create. Sorry neighbours for my poor gardening skills, I am learning.


Sandy Nelson, a photographer and member of the Victoria Park Gallery just announced her 2024 calendar and on the cover is a beautiful photo of the lighthouse and the title, Kincardine Has A Beacon.


I think she might be right.


A beacon of light. A calling. Bringing connection and home.


The lighthouse (aka Blinky), may just have been the start of it all for my partner and I, even though we had no idea its magic was calling us home to a place we had never known. A beacon, calling us here and drawing us to connect with some very special people. My partner in all things life and mischief, Kirk Brillon is a life long artist who got me hooked on painting just before my fortieth birthday. He loves painting monsters and creatures, while I love painting mountains and abstract landscapes. We both love a good story and aim to tell one with each of our pieces. Although I never intend for mine to include monsters, Kirk always manages to find some hidden in plain sight within my finished work.


After we settled into the house and got our art space set up, Kirk felt inspired to create a series of paintings based on the lighthouse, one of them he ended up replicating downtown on one of the boards that temporarily replaced the Sargent & Lundy windows. Blinky’s Disguise was a fun piece based on the idea that the lighthouse was simply a costume hiding his true identity as a really big sea creature thing, that I always forget the name of. A larger than life octopus? Maybe.


Little did he know when he painted it that it would lead to our friends from the dog park mentioning it to a friend of theirs, Shelley McGaw Grieve, whose great grandfather, Thomas McGaw was the lighthouse keeper from 1890 to 1913. Mcgaw’s son (this would be Shelley’s grandfather), who was actually born on a table in the lighthouse, often joked that this was the reason he was so bright. 


Great grandfather Thomas, also known as Little Tom, was awarded a gold medal from the President of the United States and a bronze medal from the Royal Canadian Humanitarian Society for his heroic acts in helping save the crew from the wreckage of the Anna Maria. 


It fascinated me that I, one of the newest people to Kincardine with no actual history here, was meeting someone with one of the oldest connections to the town. Not only that, but Shelley bought Kirk’s painting to add to the beautiful lighthouse themed room in her home.  


Which brings me back to the lighthouse. Oddly enough it ceased operations in 1977, the year I was born. But maybe, just maybe it only ceased the operations that we humans had to help with, maybe this lighthouse found a new calling. To this day it is still a beacon, calling those here who it knows both need the community for themselves and are also themselves needed for the community. I don’t think it’s just the daydreamer in me who feels this way. 


Shelley herself talked about the almost Brigadoon-ish feeling she gets about Kincardine. Or maybe it is a kind of Celtic mysticism that was brought here with it’s ancestors. Either way I feel the magic of here too. I have no idea how we found a beautiful home in a paradise we had never heard of, but I am so grateful. Each day I learn more and more about its vibrant community. I’m excited to keep learning, and to hopefully one day contribute to that vibrance in my own unique way. 


Thank you to all of our wonderful new friends. You are all truly amazing, kind, open and creative people. Thank you especially to Shelley for taking the time to share your family history with me. 



Kirk Brillon and Shelley McGaw Grieve

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