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Pointe aux Anglais, PQ  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.   

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Pointe aux Anglais Lighthouse

Situated on the Quebec shore of the Ottawa River, some twenty-six kilometres above the St. Lawrence River, is the small community of Pointe-aux-Anglais, French for English Point. In 1872, the Department of Marine contracted Joseph White to build a lighthouse atop a pier, 400 metres off Pointe aux Anglais. The lighthouse was placed in operation on August 20, 1873 with its light being produced by two mammoth, flat-wick lamps set in ten-inch reflectors. The total cost for the pier and lighthouse came to $2,903.80.

Arsene Labrosse was appointed the first keeper of Pointe aux Anglais Lighthouse, but his services were dispensed with after just one season, and E. Charelbois was placed in charge of the light. During Keeper Charlebois’ service, Darius Smith, the Superintendent of Lights above Montreal, visited the station in 1877 and provided the following description of it:

Three mammoth flat-wick burner lamps; cast-iron stands; three 17-inch reflectors. Oil on hand, eight gallons; delivered, forty-five gallons; glass, 30x36 inches; lighthouse, square wooden building, dwelling attached, 18 ft. square, 22 ft. high from pier to light. Repairs required at that Station. Keeper ordered to have them done immediately, viz: two glasses to be put in lantern; lamp stand to be widened; piece of timber to be put in bow of pier; three plates of boiler iron to be spiked on pier light, and dwelling-houses to be painted; also six toise of stone to be placed at bow of pier for protection, as the apron timbers on the slide are above water.
Ice floes damaged the lighthouse’s exposed pier over the years, necessitating occasional repairs and the construction of a new pier in 1892. Richard Abbott of Ottawa was contracted in late 1892 to build the new pier for the sum of $1,175, and he was to have the work done by March 15, 1893. Mr. Abbott worked on the new pier until the close of the 1872 navigation season, but then abandoned the project when he did not agree with the Department of Marine’s assessment of the amount of work to be done. William H. Noble, foreman of works for the department, was thus brought in to complete the pier.

Oka Lighthouse before being placed atop hillPhotograph courtesy Michel Forand
Pointe aux Anglais Lighthouse must not have been a very cheery place to live, as the Department of Marine had a hard time getting its keepers to not farm out the task of looking after the light. On May 6, 1890, the inspector of lights above Montreal visited Pointe aux Anglais Lighthouse and found that Keeper Charlebois had hired “an old man” to take care of the light for fifty cents a day (Keeper Charlebois was paid $200 to look after the light during the navigation season, which usually lasted eight to nine months). As he had been warned earlier about this violation of regulations, Keeper Charlebois was fired, and Calixte Labrosse was hired in his place.

The necessity of personally minding one’s light continued to be a problem at Pointe aux Anglais as in 1892 Keeper Labrosse was found to be hiring a substitute to attend to the light. The department was going to remove Labrosse at that time, but he was allowed to retain his position after promising to mind the light himself in the future. In 1897, the department discovered that Labrosse had sublet the keeping of the light to another person for the sum of $80 per annum and decided to dispense with his services.

In 1907, the square, wooden Oka Lighthouse, which had formerly stood atop a pier on Pointe du Lac, was moved six-tenths of a kilometre upstream and placed on a hill, seventy metres from the riverbank, where it lined up with Pointe aux Anglais Lighthouse to form a range for navigating the river. In its new location, Oka Lighthouse was two-and-a-half kilometres above the wharf at Oka and had a focal plane of forty-four metres above the river.

The original Pointe aux Anglais Lighthouse remained standing until 1936. Today, the lighthouse is a white square tower with horizontal red stripes that stands atop a concrete pier with a nose pointing upstream to deflect ice floes. Since 1998, Club de Voile des Laurentides, whose CVL initials appear on the lighthouse’s pier, has maintained the lighthouse as a private aid to navigation. The companion Oka Lighthouse was discontinued in the 1900s.

Head Keepers: Arsene Labrosse (1873 – 1874), E. Charlebois (1874 – 1890), Calixte Labrosse dit Raymond (1890 – 1897), Lucas H. Masson (1897 – 1912), A. Labrosse (1912 – 1927), W. Pilon (1927 – 1929).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.

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