“Ooh, it makes me wonder” (Zepplin).
There are many different notions that surround Woodstock’s lighthouse. Afterall, what is a lighthouse doing here, miles from water?
Most people who have grown up in Woodstock have some memory of the monastery; then, the next generation peers at the lighthouse towering over them and asks, what is it?
We have to admit that words like “monasticism” and “monk” are not used in everyday conversation. So, if you are unsure about what the lighthouse is about, you’re not alone.
After the second World War, 9 Studite monks arrived in Canada, victims of persecution. Most had perished in the war. Studite monks in fact have a long history; their origins start in 463, with them later moving to the the Ukraine.
In 1951 they took up residence on an old farm across from Southside Park in Woodstock. Farming was an appropriate vocation in Canada, as much of their life in the Ukraine was dedicated to farming.
Using the slaughterhouse on the farm as their church, iconographers such as Rev. Filotej Kozj began creating the famous images.
In 1964, on the same farm, these monks began building a monastery. It held sleeping quarters for 10-12 monks, along with a dining room and recreation area.(Sentinel-Review, Aug. 2, 1975) This was the first of two monasteries built in Canada, with Woodstock’s being under direction of the mother monastery in Rome.
Their purpose in the community was, and still is, to serve God and serve mankind. However, their numbers are declining – only one remains.
In 2000, after being denied financial backing from 16 banks, Father Evtimy Wolinksi began building a 3 million dollar lighthouse.
It’s more than a beacon of light – it represents our connection with God – God is light – and the ascending structure definitely demonstrates that fact. Walking up the stairs to the different levels made me feel as if I was walking to heaven.
This unique structure is located at 160 Ferguson Drive in Woodstock, on the remains of the old farm. The lighthouse displays 100 religious Byzantine icons, old maps of Eastern Europe, models of American lighthouses and a stone from St. Peter’s home in Galilee.
This establishment is run by three gentlemen: Father Wolinski, George and Andrew. However, Father Wolinski says there are people coming and going all the time.
Every icon tells a story. With that said, there are 100 stories to decipher, interpret and understand.
The main floor offers a gift shop, and the 9th floor provides a look out area. This floor can also be used as a banquet area, providing a distinct setting for parties. There is an elevator service if needed and many visitors start their tour at the top, walking down to the first floor.
Since its opening, the lighthouse has seen approximately 19,000 visitors, but they would like to see more. Hours of operation are 1-5 pm, open daily, with donation driven admission. Tours can be provided if requested. Call (519) 536-6778 or (519) 539-0910 to request more information. Generally, the lighthouse hosts church groups, but all are welcome.