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 Cabot Head, ON    
Lighthouse accessible by car and a short, easy walk.Lighthouse open for climbing.Interior open or museum on site.Volunteer keeper program offered.
Description: Cabot Head, named in honor of noted explorer John Cabot, was a known obstacle for vessels traveling the eastern coast of the Bruce Peninsula to ports such as Owens Sounds, Collingwood, and Midland, but partly due to its isolation, it didn’t received a lighthouse until the late 19th century. A lighthouse had been constructed on Griffith Island off Colpoy’s Bay in 1858, and Tobermory received a lighthouse in 1885, but the roughly 60-mile-long sail between these points was unmarked.

The Department of Marine and Fisheries called bids for the construction of a lighthouse and fog-alarm at Cabot Head in July of 1895, and the following year, John George of Port Elgin and Richard Webb of Southampton had the station ready for service. The lighthouse consisted of a two-story, wooden dwelling with a 49-foot tower rising from one corner. A short distance to the east of the lighthouse, the fog-alarm plant was built on small outcropping. Boilers manufactured by Canier, Laine & Company, of Levis, Quebec were used to energize the steam-powered horn.

The first keeper of the Cabot Head Lighthouse was William Campbell, and he activated the light for the first time on the evening of May 18, 1896. The beacon was a complex affair, consisting of several sets of parabolic metal reflectors and kerosene lanterns set in a frame. This apparatus, provided by Chanteloup Company of Montreal, was revolved by a clockwork mechanism to produce three flashes of light separated by twenty seconds, followed by an eclipse of forty seconds.

Just west of the lighthouse is Wingfield Basin, a protected natural harbour, whose use was initially limited due to a shallow bar across its entrance. The harbour was dredged and a pair of range lights established inside it in 1914. Care for these range lights was added to the responsibilities of the keeper at Cabot Head. In 1915 a sixty-foot tower was established next to the lighthouse, and the keeper was required to fly storm warnings received via telephone from Toronto on it.

The station at Cabot Head had to be serviced from supply ships anchored offshore until a trail was cut through the woods just north of Gillies Lake. A proper gravel road was extended to the station from Dyer’s Bay in the early 1960s.

A separate residence for the keeper was constructed in 1958, and in 1968, the light was transferred to a skeletal tower erected near the lighthouses. An earlier beacon from the tower is on display in the lighthouse.

Local citizens, concerned about the future of the lighthouse, organized the Friends of Cabot Head in 1983 to restore, maintain, and managed the property. A full-time, on-site manager lives in the 1958 residence, but one or two people can sign up to stay in the lighthouse for one-week tours of duty as part of a Lighthouse Assistant Program. Funding for the lighthouse comes through this program, entry fees, membership dues, and purchases made at the Light Keepers Locker gift shop.


Information on Cabot Head Light
History Light Characteristics Focal Height Nominal Range Description/Height of tower above ground
Skeletal tower erected in 1968. White flash every 10 seconds. 24.1 m. 9 M White skeleton tower. 12.9 m.

References

  1. Informational signs at lighthouse.

Location: Locate on Cabot Head, near the northern end of the Bruce Peninsula.
Latitude: 45.24512
Longitude: -81.29215

For a larger map of Cabot Head Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: From Highway 6, about midway up the Bruce Peninsula, go east on Dyers Bay Road for 9.4 km (5.9 miles) until you reach the shore of Georgian Bay and the village of Dyers Bay. Follow the road along the shore for 11.2 km (7 miles) until it ends at the Cabot Head Lighthouse.

The Light Station is open daily from Victoria Day Weekend to Thanksgiving between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Admission by donation. A Lighthouse Assistant Program allows one or two "keepers" to stay in the lighthouse for a week during the summer and help greet guests and care for the structures.

The lighthouse is owned by Ontario Parks and managed by Friends of Cabot Head. Grounds open, tower open in season.

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