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Gallia Bay Lower, PQ  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.   

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Gallia Bay Lower Lighthouse

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 Sorel Islands or the Archipelago of Saint-Peter.

Navigating the winding waterways between the islands of the archipelago can be tricky, and several lights have been established over the years to assist mariners. Some of the earliest lights were a lighthouse established on Île aux Raisins in 1843, a lighthouse placed on Île à la Pierre by 1860, and a pair of range lights erected in 1863 on the Richelieu Company’s Wharf at Sorel.

Gallia Bay Lower Range Lights
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Île à la Pierre Lighthouse was originally built as a shore lighthouse at Nicolet, but when channel improvements made it unnecessary there, it was relocated to the Sorel Islands. In the spring of 1896, the lighthouse, which stood on a cribwork pier near the eastern end of the island, was carried away by an unusually heavy ice-shove. A temporary pole light was maintained during the subsequent navigation season while a concrete pier and a new lighthouse were built under the direction of William H. Noble, foreman of works for the Department of Marine.

The concrete pier was in the form of a frustum of a cone, sixteen feet tall, with a diameter of twenty-six feet at its base and twenty feet at its top. The lighthouse surmounting the pier was an octagonal, wooden tower, painted brown, which was topped by an octagonal, wooden lantern, painted red. The lighthouse stood thirty-three feet tall and exhibited a fixed white light from a seventh-order lens at a height of forty-five feet above the summer level of the river. The total cost of the pier and lighthouse was $3,309.59.

In 1906 and 1907, multiple ranges were established to guide mariners through the archipelago, including lights at Gallia Bay, Île des Barques, Île du Moine, Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel, Île de Grâce, and Île Dupas. Four towers were erected on Île à la Pierre in 1906 to form two ranges, known as Gallia Bay Lower Range and Gallia Bay Upper Range. Gallia Bay is the name given to a small indentation near the middle of Île à la Pierre’s southern shoreline.

Gallia Bay Range Lights were placed in operation at the opening of navigation in 1907, and Île à la Pierre Lighthouse was discontinued at that time. The following description was published to announce the establishment of these two new ranges:

The lights are fixed white catoptric lights, visible two miles in the line of range, and stand on concrete piers, square in plan, with battered sides.

The front lighthouse of the upper range, which will be known as Gallia bay upper range, stands on the south side of Île à la Pierre, 5,375 feet S. 77° W. from Île à la Pierre lighthouse, and 140 feet back from the water’s edge. The lighthouse is a square wooden building, painted white, surmounted by a white square wooden lantern with red roof. The height of the building from the top of the pier to the top of the ventilator on the lantern is 19 feet, and the light is elevated 41 feet above the summer level of the river.

The back lighthouse stands 660 feet from the front one. It consists of an inclosed cylindrical steel tower 5 feet in diameter, painted white, surmounted by a square wooden lantern painted red. The tower is 52 feet high from the top of the pier to the top of the ventilator on the lantern, and is elevated 73 feet above the summer level of the river.

The lights in one bearing S. 83° 55’ W. lead up from the intersection of their alignment of Île du Moine lower range lights to the intersection of their alignment with the alignment of Gallia bay lower range lights.

The front lighthouse of the lower range, which will be known as Gallia bay lower range, stands on the south side of Île à la Pierre, 2,800 feet from Île à la Pierre lighthouse, and 80 feet back from the water’s edge. The lighthouse is a similar building to the front one of the upper range, and is elevated 38 feet above the summer level of the river.

The back lighthouse of this range stands 600 feet N. 45° E. from the front one. It is a similar building to the back lighthouse of the upper range, and is elevated 71 feet above the summer level of the river.

The lights in one astern bearing N. 45° E. lead up from the intersection of their alignment with the alignment of Gallia bay upper range lights to the intersection of their alignment with the alignment of Ste. Anne de Sorel range lights.

This work was performed by day labour, under the Montreal agency; the steel towers were furnished from the government shipyard, at Sorel, at a cost of $292.25 each, and the total cost of this work, inclusive of the steel towers, was $34,301.71.

Elzear Cantara was hired as the first keeper of the upper range lights at an annual salary of $350, while Louis Peloquin was paid the same amount to look after the lower range.

Due to uneven settling, the front and back piers of the upper range and the front pier of the lower range had to be repaired just two years after they were built. After pilework was driven around them, the concrete piers were picked and reinforced with steel bars. A new, two-foot-thick concrete belt was then poured around the piers and pilework, and the foundation was encircled by riprap as a further protection. The cost for this work was $6,775.58.

It appears the range lights were discontinued in the 1960s.

Île à la Pierre Lighthouse Keepers: A. Auger (1867 – ), Joseph Auger (at least 1869 – 1870), John Long (1870 – 1871), Joseph Lamoureux (1871 – 1879), William Matte (1879 – 1885), William Matte, Jr. (1885 – 1892), Paul Salvail (1892 – 1897), Omer Salvail (1897 – 1907).

Gallia Bay Upper Keepers: Elzear Cantara (1907 – 1912), Charles Fleury, Sr. (1912 – 1923), D. Lavalle (1924 – 1929), N. Provencal (1929 – 1931), A. Beauchemin (1931 – 1932), L. Paul, Jr. (1933 – at least 1937).

Gallia Bay Lower Keepers: Louis Peloquin (1907 – 1912), Jas. Cournoyer (1912 – 1923), A. Paul (1924 – 1931).

References

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

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