|Île Sainte-Hélène, PQ|
Description: The Hochelaga Archipelago, also known as the Montreal Islands, is a grouping of over 200 islands at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The Island of Montreal, the largest in the group, is home to most residents of the City of Montreal along with the Port of Montreal. Two islands were located in the St. Lawrence River, just downstream from the port: Île Ronde (Round Island) and Île Sainte-Hélène (Saint Helen’s Island). Samuel de Champlain named Île Sainte-Hélène in honour of his wife, Hélène de Champlain, while Île Ronde was likely named on account of its shape.
Range lights, which will be known as Ile Ronde range, were established in Montreal harbour, to mark the axis of the ship channel from Longue pointe gas buoy, No. 174 M, to Longueuil gas buoy, No. 181 M. The front lighthouse stands on the northeast end of Ile Ronde, on land 18 feet above the summer level of the river. The structure consists of a concrete pier, square in plan, with battered sides, whitewashed, surmounted by an octagonal iron lantern painted red. The height from the base of the pier to the top of the ventilator on the lantern is 32 feet. The light is a fixed white light, elevated 43 feet above the summer level of the river, and visible five miles in the line of range. The illuminating apparatus is catoptric.Herman Charland was appointed keeper of the light on Île Ronde on August 1, 1907 at an annual salary of $500. In 1910, a shelter shed was erected on Île Ronde for the keeper at a cost of $455.65.
The new rear lighthouse for Ile Ronde Range was a white, square, forty-eight-foot-tall tower, built of reinforced concrete and topped by a wooden lantern with a red roof. The tower stood atop a square, concrete, forty-foot-tall pier with battered sides, and the entire structure thus had a height of eighty-eight feet. In its new location, the rear light was 2,158 feet from the front light instead of over a mile away. The lighthouse was built by day labour, under direction of A. Ouimet, and cost $7,492.
At the opening of navigation in 1914, the front range light started using a new illuminating apparatus consisting of a forty-inch, long-focus reflector with a lamp whose illuminant was petroleum vapour burned under an incandescent mantle. The reflector created a beam of 40,000 candlepower that could be seen over a one-degree arc on each side of the range’s axis. Over the remainder of the 250-degree arc of visibility, the light had a luminous power of just 450 candles.
The Ile Ronde Range Lights witnessed many significant changes to their surroundings. Between 1925 and 1930, the Montreal Harbour Bridge, known now as the Jacques Cartier Bridge, was built across the northern end of Île Sainte-Hélène to link Montreal with the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. The new bridge was situated between the range lights, but evidently didn’t interfere with their effectiveness as they remained in operation for a few more decades.
Most of the pavilions were removed from the islands following the exposition, but a few remain standing. The French and Québec pavilions were converted into the Montreal Casino, the American Pavilion became the Montreal Biosphere, and Habitat 67 is now a condominium complex.
As part of the exposition, La Ronde, a permanent amusement park, was built on what had been Île Ronde before it was incorporated into the larger Île Sainte-Hélène. Since 2001, La Ronde has been owned and operated by Six Flags, which has added several new thrill rides to the park.
The disused lighthouse had recently been painted when the pictures on this page were taken in 2007.
Head Keepers: Herman Charland (1907 – 1919).
Located below the Fort de l'Île Sainte-Hélène on the west side of the island and in the parking lot for La Ronde. The lighthouse is owned by City of Montréal. Grounds open, tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by City of Montréal. Grounds open, tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.