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 Île de Grâce Range, PQ    
Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.
Description: The St. Lawrence River broadens in a few areas along its course to form lakes. Just upstream from Montreal are found Lake Saint-Louis and Lake Saint-Francis, and just downstream from Sorel-Tracy is Lake Saint-Peter. In the western end of Lake Saint-Peter, just offshore from Sorel-Tracy, is found a collection of 103 islands known as the Archipelago of Saint-Peter.

Île de Grâce Front Range Light in 1924
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Some of the earliest lights were a lighthouse established on Île aux Raisins in 1843, a lighthouse built on Île a la Pierre by 1860, and a pair of range lights erected in 1863 on the Richelieu Company’s Wharf at Sorel. After the Richelieu Company’s steamer Quebec ran aground on Île de Grâce, the Board of Trinity House Montreal had a pier and a small lighthouse erected on the southern end of the island in 1871 at a cost of $1,077.20.

Île de Grâce is located just downstream from Sorel-Tracy, and the main shipping channel passes between the southern tip of the island and the mainland at Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel. Built to mark the southern extremity of the island, Île de Grâce Lighthouse was a wooden, octagonal tower that measured twenty-five feet tall and exhibited a fixed white light using two flat-wick lamps set in fifteen-inch reflectors. A sixty-square-foot piece of land for the lighthouse was purchased from the church at Sorel for thirty dollars, and Edouard Paul, “a most respectable proprietor of land” opposite the island, was appointed first keeper of the light at an annual salary of $240.

In 1873, Keeper Paul petitioned the Department of Marine for an allowance for his service of preventing people from cutting down trees on Île de Grâce and nearby Île à la Pierre. While deforesting the islands would make the lights on them more visible to mariners, the trees served as useful barriers to the ice that piled up in the vicinity and was a danger to both life and property.

In 1897, ice tore off a section of the breakwater in front of the lighthouse and carried it about sixty feet away. Louis Beaulac of Sorel was paid $72 to repair and strengthen the pier and replace some iron plating that had been torn off and broken.

Two concrete piers were built on Île de Grâce during the autumn of 1905 to support a pair of range lights to replace the island’s lighthouse. The front pier was twenty-seven feet square at its base and tapered to fifteen feet square at its top, which was fourteen feet above the river. The back pier was twenty-eight feet square at its base, tapered to twenty-four feet square at its top, which was eighteen feet above the river, and had a sloping nose facing upstream to deflect ice floes.

Île de Grâce Rear Range Light in 1924
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
The lights of Île de Grâce Range were placed in operation at the opening of navigation in 1906 and were of the following description:

The front lighthouse, a square white building having a steel frame sheathed with asbestos, surmounted by a square white lantern, all 19 feet high, standing on a square concrete pier with sloping sides, on the southern side of ile de Grace, exhibits, at 36 feet above high water, a fixed white light, visible in the line of range 5 miles.

The rear light is exhibited from a square brown skeleton tower, with white, wooden slatwork on upper portion of side facing channel; white, inclosed watch room and a white, square lantern with a red roof, the whole 63 feet high. The tower stands on the southeastern end of ile de Grace, 633 yards, 75°, from the front lighthouse, on a concrete pier with sloping sides and pointed upstream end. The light is fixed white, exhibited at 80 feet above high water, and visible in the range line 5 miles.

These ranges lights served to guide mariners along the channel near Sorel-Tracy between Île du Moine Range and Île Dupas Range, which were established, respectively, in August 1906 and the opening of navigation in 1907. Edouard Paul, keeper of the old Île de Grâce Lighthouse, assumed responsibility for the new front range light, and Louis Letendre was placed in charge of the new rear light.

After the river had undermined the front pier, pilework was driven around the pier in 1907 and riprap was placed between the piles at a cost of $537. Both piers required additional protecting during the next two decades, and then in 1928, a new front range tower was built to replace the old one that was in danger of falling into the river due to the undermining of the bank. The new front tower consisted of a white, square wooden tower with sloping sides and a white square lantern room. It was located sixty-eight feet farther from the rear light, and displayed a fixed white light at a height of thirty-two feet.

Today, Île de Grâce Range exhibits fixed green lights visible on the axis of the range along with isophase green lights from both towers that are only visible over a narrow sector.

Keepers: Edouard Paul (1871 – 1906).

  • Front: Edouard Paul (1906 – 1912), Bruno Raquier (1912 – 1923), P. Cardin (1924 – 1932).
  • Back: Louis Letendre (1906 – 1912), Louis Lavallee (1912 – 1923).

References

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

Location: Located on the southern shore of Île de Grâce.
Latitude: 46.069       Latitude: 46.070506
Longitude: -73.04995   Longitude: -73.042506

For a larger map of Île de Grâce Range Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: From the terminus of Autoroute 30, turn left onto Boulevard Poliquin (Chemin du Chenal du Moine) and continue for 5.8 km (3.6 miles) to Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, where you can get a view of the range lights across the river.

Île de Grâce Range Lights are owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds open, towers closed.

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