|Port Stanley, ON|
Description: In 1923, a small, triangular traffic island at the junction of Bridge, Main, Jefferson, and Colborne Streets in Port Stanley was named a National Historic Site, and the following year a plaque and cairn were erected there to honour the significant explorers and travelers associated with Port Stanley. During the first descent of Lake Erie by Europeans, Adrien Jolliet landed at the mouth of Port Stanley’s Kettle Creek in 1669, and in the War of 1812, General Isaac Brock encamped on the beach there en route to Fort Detroit.
The settlement of Kettle Creek was founded in 1812, but during the next decade its name was changed to Port Stanley to honour Edward Smith-Stanley, fourteenth earl of Derby, who had visited nearby Port Talbot. In January 1837, a committee of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada recommended that funds be granted for lighthouses on Lake Erie at Port Stanley, Port Burwell, and the Cut at Long Point. The first Port Stanley Lighthouse must have been erected shortly after this as it was improved during harbour improvements carried out there in 1843 and 1844.
As the old works of this Harbour, which is about midway up Lake Erie, with a very extensive, old settled back country, were in ruin and unavailable, and the little shipment that took place was consequently obliged to be made by means of small boats, going to the Vessels lying out in the Lake, at great risk; it is not to be wondered at that the Trade was almost annihilated. Ship-owners would not charter their Vessels to it, and the Passenger Trade, on the Canada side, was given up. The re-construction, therefore, of this Harbour, was of vital importance to that whole section of country, and the beneficial results of it are already apparent. …
While entering the harbour in a gale in 1861, a vessel struck and destroyed the lighthouse at Port Stanley, necessitating the erection of a small new structure to mark the harbour. This new light was likely a lantern containing four lamps and fourteen-inch reflectors that was being hoisted atop a frame by Keeper Charles Ead in 1876. Charles had a family of ten children and had been placed in charge of the light in 1869 upon the death of his father, who had served as keeper for a decade. In 1877, the Department of Marine assumed control of a privately maintained red pole light on the west pier at Port Stanley, and Keeper Ead’s annual salary was raised to $275 from $300 to compensate him for looking after two lights.
A lighthouse at Port Stanley, Lake Erie, to serve as a coast light as well as to show the entrance to the port. It is situated on the outer end of the western breakwater pier, and is of the fixed white Catoptric class. It is elevated 42 feet above the level of the lake, and should be visible 11 miles from all points seaward. The tower is a square wooden one, painted white, 35 feet high from its base to the lantern vane, and stands upon a timber block 7 feet high, built 34 feet from the outer end of the breakwater pier.
In 1905, Haney and Miller were contracted to construct a new L-shaped breakwater at Port Stanley to shelter the harbour’s parallel piers. By this time, Port Stanley had become the Canadian terminus of a car ferry service across Lake Erie in connection with the Pere Marquette Railway, and the railway company had built a pier parallel to the harbour’s west pier.
F.R. Miller of Port Stanley was contracted to build a reinforced concrete tower to mark the outer end of the new L-shaped breakwater at a cost of $3,850, and this work was completed in 1909. A one-inch diaphone, operated by electricity, was installed at the breakwater lighthouse in 1913. During periods of low visibility, this fog alarm would sound a two-second blast every fifteen seconds.
In 1934, a new light was established on shore to form, with the breakwater light, a set of range lights to guide mariners to the harbour entrance. At this same time, the white light on the west pier, shown from a mast, was changed to a green light. Today, the harbour is marked by the 1909 concrete tower on the west breakwater and a cylindrical tower on the east breakwater.
In 2016, Port Stanley lighthouse was transferred to the Municipality of Central Elgin, and the municipality was awarded a one-time $65,000 grant to help fund the restoration and maintenance of the structure. “Once we own it, we'll take steps to refurbish it, clean it up. I believe that it’s lead paint that's on there so we'll have to take special steps to clean that up, but that's the goal is to fix it up,” said Central Elgin Mayor David Marr.
Head Keepers: Richard Smith (at least 1851), Francis Mitchell ( – 1856), Matthew Child (1857 – 1858), Richard Ead (1859 – 1869), Charles Ead (1869 – 1890), Mrs. Charles Ead (1890 – 1907), John L. Oliver (1907 – 1925), A.S. Taylor (1926 – at least 1937).
Located at the outer end of the breakwater on the west side of the harbor entrance in Port Stanley. 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.