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Pointe Beaudette (McKie’s Point), PQ  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.   

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Pointe Beaudette (McKie’s Point) Lighthouse

Lake Saint Francis, a widening of the St. Lawrence River, is forty-three kilometres long and spans the provincial boundary between Quebec and Ontario. Seven hundred metres east of the Quebec-Ontario boundary, McKie’s Point juts out into the lake, presenting an obstacle to mariners.

A square, wooden tower was erected on McKie’s Point in 1847, and Alexander McDonald was hired at an annual salary of £35 to serve as its keeper. In reporting the completion of this lighthouse along with others on Lake Saint Francis at Coteau Landing and Cherry Island and a floating light on a bar below Lancaster, Captain John McIntyre, Superintendent of Lighthouses, stated “the channel through the lake has been so accurately indicated, by the lights which have been established since the opening of the navigation, that vessels, which heretofore had to lay by at nights, can now pass through at all hours with perfect ease and safety.”

McKie’s Point (Pointe Beaudette) Lighthouse in 1930
Photograph courtesy Michel Forand
A dwelling was apparently not provided for the keeper, as in 1857 the Commissioners of Public Works for Province of Canada noted that accommodations were needed at McKie’s Point. By 1858, the lake “had made serious inroads upon the point of land” on which the lighthouse stood, necessitating repairs to the tower’s foundation in 1859.

In 1861, two lamps and reflectors were being used in the lantern room of McKie’s Point Lighthouse, and the light consumed fifty-three gallons of mineral oil during the shipping season. An iron lantern was placed atop the tower in 1865 to replace a decayed wooden one, and a new storehouse was built that same year.

During the spring of 1876, McKie’s Point Lighthouse burned down, forcing the Department of Marine to erect a temporary light in the form of four base-burner lamps hoisted on a pole. A new lighthouse was erected at the cost of $729.50 and then placed in operation at the opening of navigation in 1877. Darius Smith, Superintendent of Lighthouses above Montreal, wrote the following after a visit to the new lighthouse in 1878:

Arrived at this lighthouse on the 1st July, at 6 p.m., and delivered the necessary stores; it is a white square wooden tower, with an iron lantern 4 feet 6 inches in diameter, with three Silber burners and 17 inch reflectors, and can be seen 11 miles. It is kept in very good order by Alexander McDonald; his family consists of eight. The lighthouse and dwelling require painting.

I would recommend that the burners at this Station be changed to mammoth flat-wick burners, as the keeper has a great deal of trouble with the ones at present in use.

A fifth-order lens was installed in McKie’s Point Lighthouse in 1914.

After the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the second McKie’s Point Lighthouse was replaced in 1962 by a pair of range lights. The Department of Transport planned to demolish the wooden lighthouse, activated in 1877, but two nearby landowners obtained a ten-year lease on the plot of land on which the lighthouse stood and agreed to care for the tower. The lantern room was damaged during a violent storm in 1995, and the wooden tower stood headless on the point for several years.

McKie’s Point is also known as Pointe Beaudette, and the Beaudette River empties into the Lake Saint Francis just east of the point. When the range lights were erected in 1962 to replace McKie’s Point Lighthouse, the front light was placed atop a white, circular tower on a crib in shoal water northeast of the point, and the rear light was placed on a white, square, skeletal tower 137 metres north of the old wooden lighthouse. Pictures of the modern range lights can be seen on this page. This new range was called Pointe Beaudette Range, and today its fixed green lights guide mariners along Lake Saint Francis.

In the February 2012 Council Meeting of the Municipality of Rivière-Beaudette, council members debated the future of McKie’s Point Lighthouse. A conference call with the municipality, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Parks Canada, and Canadian Heritage had been held on November 25, 2011, and the federal government apparently offered to sell the lighthouse and its associated property to the municipality for $135,000. Even though the lighthouse is featured on its emblem, the municipality declined to purchase the lighthouse because the property is surrounded by private land and there was no possibility of creating a park or allowing public access to the site.

In October 2014, I noticed the lighthouse was absent from a satellite view of the point and found out the property had been sold by the federal government to an adjacent landowner. The status of the historic tower is unknown, but it has likely been destroyed.

Head Keeper: Alexander McDonald (1847 – 1891), Tancrède LeBlanc (1891 –1893), Dosithée Daoust (1893 – at least 1923).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Commissioners of Public Works, various years.
  2. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.

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