|Victoria Harbour Range Rear, ON|
Description: John Hogg built the first sawmill near present-day Victoria Harbour in 1843, and his name was soon applied to the settlement that grew up around the mill as well as to the nearby river and bay. In 1872, the first official post office was established in the town, and the settlement was renamed Victoria Harbour in honour of the reigning monarch.
John Waldie, a Scotish entrepreneur, arrived in Victoria Harbour in 1885 and bought up several lumber mills along with hundreds of square miles of timber rights. Waldie incorporated his holdings as the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company, which at its peak was the second-largest lumber operation in Canada and the third-largest in North America. Company housing built for employees was painted bright yellow, earning Victoria Harbour the nickname “Canary Towne.” When incorporated in 1911, Victoria Harbour had a population of over 2,000 people.
Recognizing the need for range lights to guide lumber schooners and steamers into Victoria Harbour, the Department of Marine had two square wooden lighthouse towers, surmounted by square wooden lanterns, built by day labour in 1910. G. Dobson was in charge of the constructing the pair of range lights, which cost $1,766.81. The front range light was erected on Bergie Point, which shelters Victoria Harbour from northerly winds, while the rear range light was placed atop a hill behind the village, 1,400 yards from the front light. The front range light had a focal plane of twenty-seven feet above the bay, while the rear light had a focal plane of 100 feet. After following Midland Point Range, mariners could line up the two fixed red lights of Victoria Harbour Range to reach Victoria Harbour.
Charles Burgie served as keeper of the range lights from 1910 to 1912, after which Robert Belcher and then Raymond Belcher cared for the lights. Except for a period during which he fought in World War I, Raymond Belcher was keeper of the light from 1912 until the lights were electrified in 1951.
A skeletal tower replaced the original front tower in 1960, and the range was discontinued in the 1990s. Tay Township Heritage Committee assumed ownership of the historic rear tower from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2004. After Bandana Construction removed the metal siding applied by the Coast Guard and refurbished the tower at a cost of $60,000, a “Grand Re-opening of the Victoria Harbour Range Light” to public viewing was held at the site on August 15, 2012. Roughly fifty people attended the celebration, including Mayor Scott Warnock, Member of Parliament Bruce Stanton, and Member of Provincial Parliament Garfield Dunlop.
Head Keepers: Charles Burgie (1910 – 1912), Robert Belcher (1912), Raymond Belcher (1912 – 1951).
Located on a hill overlooking Victoria Harbour. The lighthouse is owned by the Tay Township Heritage Committee. Grounds open, tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by the Tay Township Heritage Committee. Grounds open, tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.