Lighthouse Dispatches by Paul Morralee
The echoes of excitement bounced between the light tower and keeper’s dwelling after another set of bocce ball was completed. This was an interesting week as there were a variety of activities taking place all over the island. Let’s start below the waves and work up from there!
Save Ontario Shipwrecks- Superior Chapter (SOS) continued their four-day eco dive and archeological expedition around the island. Their search was for artifacts left from previous light keepers in the cove, and later around the point looking for wreckage, no major finds were reported.
Volunteerism continues to build a destination for nautical visitors as the SOS chapter left Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior (CLLS) with a brand new mooring ball for boaters.
The Stewardship Youth Rangers are next to arrive, working with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRF), to brush out a new coastal nature trail around part of the island. This will provide visitors with a unique view of the forest floor and the Sleeping Giant, 20km to the west.
Upon the shores arrived a freighter canoe expedition headed by Darrell Makin called ‘Survive & Thrive’, a company of youth from Calgary who had experienced cancer. The group, who had been weather-bound spending a day in Silver Islet before visiting Porphyry, were excited to explore the volcanic sands and tumbled glass shores of this mystical place.
The Barrie Canoe and Kayak Club also shared the island’s panoramic views. They had started their journey from the western entrance to the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area and were looking to venture across the archipelago of islands to Rossport. With a well-tended tenting site, and ample supply of firewood they shared some stories with the diving crew, creating a night of camaraderie surrounded by Superior.
The clatter of a helicopter caused the craning of the neck skyward to wonder who was visiting. Kevin Graham, son of former light keeper Gordon Graham, had returned to his home 37 years later with his beaming family in tow. For them this was all new while to Graham, it was an awaking. For years people had told him not to return as the place was in terrible disrepair and vandalized and to return would be a sorry sight. Beyond any doubt this homecoming brought unbridled emotions forward and a few laughs too for down in the basement of the keepers dwelling a basketball hoop was found that he’d played with as a boy.
CLLS volunteers and members can take pause and be proud of their work and support for when former residents visit the facilities, it makes it all worthwhile. Families with the name of Ross, Dick, Merritt, Mckay & Bosquet can also be proud of history being resurrected on this Lake Superior Island.
The bocce ball tournament continued on the front lawn and was abated by the dinner bell. The Turpin Family, who had won a nights’ rental of the guesthouse at the lighthouse fundraiser in May were enjoying themselves so much that later when a bag of marshmallows dropped into the fire, they laughed, nothing in the moment mattered– they felt at home on this big lake we call Superior.
Next week we will hear about the SUNORA regatta of 12 boats, and how our summer students and new artist in residence are enjoying the experience.
Paul Morralee is Managing Director for the Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior Inc. established to preserve, protect and promote Lake Superior lighthouses. He’ll be sharing stories throughout the summer.