|Niagara River Range Rear, ON|
Description: Niagara-on-the-Lake, as its names suggests, is situated at the confluence of Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The European settlement at this important junction was known from about 1781 as Butlersburg, in honour of John Butler, a loyalist who formed a regiment called Butler’s Rangers to fight in the American Revolutionary War. John Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada renamed the town Newark in 1792 and made it the capital of Upper Canada. It served this role until 1796, when Simcoe moved the capital to York (now Toronto). Newark was subsequently renamed Niagara, and then Niagara-on-the Lake.
Fort Mississauga is surrounded by Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course today, but public access to the historic site is possible by following a walking path that begins at the corner of Front and Simcoe streets.
On October 27, 1886, a fog bell formerly used at Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in Toronto Harbour was placed in operation on the north rampart of the ruins of Fort Mississauga. The bell was housed in a square, wooden structure with a pitched roof that was built by James Doritty for $198.50. In 1889, a bell buoy was anchored at the west side of the entrance to Niagara River, and the fog bell was discontinued and shipped to British Columbia for use at First Narrows Lighthouse.
The United States established the current Fort Niagara Lighthouse on the eastern side of the river’s entrance in 1872, and this light remained the primary light for entering the river until the Canadian government built a pair of range lights at Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1904. William P. Anderson, the Chief Engineer for the Department of Marine, published the following description of the new range lights:
Range lights established at the mouth of Niagara river were put in operation on October 10, 1904.
The range lights were greatly strengthened in 1917 through the installation of long focus reflectors, provided by the Dominion Lighthouse Depot at a cost of $2,063.39, which replaced fourth-order lenses previously in use. At this time, the lamps were burning petroleum vapour under a mantle, but the lights were electrified in 1923.
Today, the range lights continue to exhibit fixed red lights to guide mariners into Niagara River.
In 1975, Environment Canada opened a sampling site at Niagara-on-the-Lake to monitor the river’s water quality, and in 1988, they installed sampling equipment in the base of the rear range light. Submersible pumps located in a wet well beneath the nearby gazebo provide the lighthouse laboratory with bi-weekly samples from the river. The scope of the sampling program has expanded from measuring the level of nutrient inputs such as phosphorus to detecting the presence of toxic chemicals like PCBs. A similar site on Lake Erie allows for the effectiveness of clean-up efforts along the Niagara River to be determined.
Keepers: John McKimmie (1905 – 1907), Robert J. Allen (1907 – 1917), J.W. McMillan (1917 – at least 1937).
Fog Alarm: Fred Masters (1905 – 1910), J.W. McMillan (1910 – at least 1937).
Located adjacent to Niagara Pumphouse Visual Art Centre at 247 Ricardo Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The lighthouse is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds/tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds/tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.