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Traverse Contrecoeur Range, PQ  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.   

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Traverse Contrecoeur Range Lighthouse

In 1857, a new pair of range lights, known as Traverse, was established two-and-a-half miles above Contrecoeur to help mariners navigate the channel that traversed from the south side of the river above Contrecoeur to the north side of the river below Lavaltrie. The lights were shown from square, wooden towers, painted white, and were located 1,500 yards apart. Each light was produced by a flat-wick lamp set in a fifteen-inch reflector and burned about twenty-five gallons of oil each season. The front light was situated on a small pier near the river’s edge and was removed every fall to protect it from ice floes.

Francois Lacroix was the first keeper of the front light, while an early keeper of the back or rear light was Frns. Meunier. The keepers of minor lights in remote locations were often nearby landowners, and this is evident in the case of the Traverse Range, as Francois Lacroix sold a thirty-by-forty-foot piece of land to the government in a deed dated May 7, 1858. In 1870, the farm on which the rear light stood changed hands, and Joseph Gervais, the new owner, was made keeper of the light after the local priest gave a written testimonial of his “high character.”

While the front range tower was removed each fall, it still was susceptible to ice floes when it was replaced in the spring as shown in the following report for 1896:

The front tower which was carried away by the ice on the 19th April and landed in the middle of a field some 500 feet distant, was found not to have been much damaged and was therefore replaced in position. It was repaired and the platform was renewed. Slight repairs were also made to the metal roof and the tower was painted by the keeper with local assistance. A new ventilator was also put in the back tower. The total expenditure incurred at this station was $64.61.

In 1904, new range light buildings were erected about two miles above Contrecoeur to mark the axis of the improved shipping channel at Contrecoeur Traverse. The new range was known as Contrecoeur Traverse, and its axis was seventy-five feet eastward of the old Traverse range. When Contrecoeur Traverse Range was activated on July 15, 1904, the old Traverse Range was discontinued and its towers removed. The Department of Marine published the following description of Contrecoeur Traverse Range:

The front tower stands on ground about 450 feet back from the water's edge. It is distant about 2 1/8 miles above Contrecoeur church, and is opposite the lower end of Ile Bouchard.

The tower is a square, wooden building, with sloping sides, painted white. It stands on a whitewashed concrete pier. The tower is 12 foot high and the pier 15 feet high.

The light is a fixed white light, elevated 35 feet above the summer level of the river, and should be visible 6 miles in the line of range. The illuminating apparatus is catoptric.

The back tower is situated 2,110 feet S. 28° 51’ W. from the front tower, and 175 feet N. 54° 9’ E. from the site of the old front range light.

The tower consists of an open steel framework, square in plan, with sloping sides. painted brown, surmounted by an inclosed wooden watch room and a square wooden lantern. The side of the framework facing the channel is rendered more conspicuous as a day beacon by being covered half way down with wooden slatwork. The lantern roof is painted red, the remainder of the lantern, the watchroom, and the slats, are white. The height of the tower from its base to the ventilator on the lantern is 64 feet. The light is a fixed white light, elevated 95 feet above the summer level of the river, and should be visible 6 miles in the line of range. The illuminating apparatus is catoptric.

The 1904 Contrecoeur Traverse Range towers remained the same through at least 1959, but by 1994 the current towers were in place. These towers, known now as Traverse Contrecoeur, consist of a white cylindrical tower that displays the fixed green front light at a height of fifty-three feet and a square, skeletal tower that displays the fixed green rear light at a height of ninety-three feet. These range lights are separated by 1,316 feet and are surrounded by the Port of Montreal’s Contrecoeur Marine Terminal, which makes it difficult to view the range by land.

Keepers:

  • Front: Francois Lacroix (1857 – 1876), N. Long (1876 – 1877), F. Lacroix (1877 – 1878), Noel Lacroix (1878 – 1885), Thomas St. Onge (1886 – 1903), Alcidas Joseph Lacroix (1904 – 1912), Paul Piche (1912 – at least 1923).
  • Back: Frns. Meunier (1861 – 1870), Joseph Gervais (1870 – 1877), Ovila Gervais (1877 – 1903), Alfred Lacroix (1904 – 1915), Nap. Lavigne (1915 – at least 1923).

References

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

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