Home > General > Lighthouse Dispatches – August 8

Promoting Nautical Heritage - 

The routine of lighthouse life continues with plenty of maintenance work plus welcoming more guests every day, with over 250 visitors already this season.

Iloe Ariss, our summer student and assistant light keeper, happily creates lists of things to do to keep the site looking great and operating well.

Our garden is coming along well with the tomatoes just now flowering; things on the island take longer to grow because of the cool winds that often blow off the lake.

We have a new birdhouse painted in the official lighthouse colours and will wait to see if next season we will be able to attract any feathered friends.

This past weekend the SUNORA group from the Thunder Bay Yacht Club arrived with 12 boats participating. The group uses the lighthouse facilities to have their final awards dinner and to tour the site. This past week they have travelled across the north shore and participated in many races and trivia challenges.

Carole Frève, visiting artist-in-residence, displays components she will use in her artwork, while Iloe Ariss stands beside the McKay Drive sign recently installed on the road to the boathouse.

Carole Frève arrived from Montreal and was all smiles when she reached the studio located in the keeper’s dwelling. She is our next Artist-in-Residence and her style of art is unique in the sense that it uses printed circuits, lights and is combined with glassworks she blows.

Guide and hard-working volunteer Donny Wabasse also provided Frève’s with an orientation of the island. Quickly acclimatizing the artist to the island helps provide more options for the creative process to flourish.

A project completed this week by the board of directors was to name the road from the boathouse to the main lighthouse compound. The road built in 1960 of beach sand and gravel stretches for 1.3 km and bisects the Porphyry Island Provincial Park Nature Reserve.

The purpose of the road was to allow the passage of supplies to the lightstation from the boatyard, which was facilitated by the Nokomis, a Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker buoy tender. The Nokomis also brought a couple of cars (now classics) by barge, which can still be seen at the top of the trail and always warrants a second look from surprised visitors.

‘McKay Drive’ named after Senator Bob McKay, an Honorary Member of the Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior Inc., was installed this week. It is to celebrate the McKay Family as light keepers stretching back to 1922 with Edward, and later in 1959 with Clifford. Bob McKay was on the crew that built the road, but also was a keeper of several lights in the area, along with his wife Gloria.

Now a nature trail through the forest to the light, many visitors can be seen walking and cycling up to the light on donated bicycles. Work is currently underway to again provide motorized transport. There are many memories of tractor rides in the past when the Graham family operated the lighthouse. Holding onto our history is important as we continue to preserve, protect and promote our nautical heritage.

Next week Assistant Light Keeper Iloe Ariss will be writing the Lighthouse Dispatch as part of her summer experience on the island.