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 West Sister Rock, ON    
Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.
Description: The North Channel, which runs between the Ontario mainland and offshore islands like Manitoulin Island, Cockburn Island, Drummond Island, and St. Joseph Island, offers a protected alternative to the open waters of Lake Huron, but it has its own dangers in the form of numerous islets, rocks, and ledges. One example of these dangers are the Sister Rocks, four in number (East, West, North, and, South), that lie between the eastern end of Campement d’Ours Island and Portlock Island, and just north of St. Joseph Island.

In 1883, the Department of Marine invited tenders for the construction of five lighthouses to help mark the North Channel: one on North Sister Rock, one at the head of Wilson’s Channel, one on Shoal Point, and two on Manitoulin Island — one at Cape Robert and one at Manitowaning,

John Waddell of Kingston was hired to build the lighthouses for $9,023, but when he failed to fulfill the contract, the Department of Marine was obliged to complete the works at his expense.

Lighthouse being moved in 1905
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
A white, hexagonal tower that displayed a fixed white light at a height of thirty-five feet was activated on North Sister Rock in 1885 to help mariners entering and leaving the Canadian entrance to St. Mary’s River.

William Wieghtman was hired as the first keeper of the lighthouse on November 6, 1885, and he served until 1902, when Joseph Thibault was placed in charge of the light. Keeper Thibault was issued a hand foghorn in 1904, which he was required to use to answer signals from steamers trying to navigate near the lighthouse in thick weather. As there was no space on the rock for a residence, the keeper’s dwelling associated with the lighthouse was located on Portlock Island, 650 metres northeast of North Sister Rock.

Two big changes occurred at the lighthouse in 1905. First, the lighthouse was moved from North Sister Rock to West Sister Rock, a distance of roughly 200 metres, where it was placed atop a cribwork pier, and second, John Thibault was appointed keeper of the light in November 1905 at an annual salary of $350, in place of Joseph Thibault, who had died. The reason for moving the lighthouse at a cost of $937.66, was because a reef extended partway between West Sister Rock and North Sister Rock, while the passage between West Sister Rock and South Sister Rock was clear. After the move, mariners could sail just south of the lighthouse without worrying about any hidden obstructions.

The light on West Sister Rock was automated and changed from fixed white to flashing white in 1951, allowing Thomas Jondreau to retire after having looked after the light for thrity-two years. West Sister Rock Lighthouse remains active today, emitting a white flash every four seconds during the navigation season.

Information on West Sister Rock Lighthouse
History Light Characteristics Focal Height Nominal Range Description/Height of tower above ground
Lighthouse built and light established in 1885. White flash every 4 seconds. 11.7 m. - M White, hexagonal tower, with a white concrete base and red lantern room. 9.7 m.

Keepers: William Weightman (1885 – 1902), Joseph Thibault (1902 – 1905), John Thibault (1905 – 1918), Thomas Jondreau (1919 – 1951).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.
  2. Annual Report of the Lake Carriers’ Association, 1951.

Location: Located on West Sister Rock, off the north shore of St. Joseph Island.
Latitude: 46.303778
Longitude: -83.915731

For a larger map of West Sister Rock Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: West Sister Rock Lighthouse is best seen by boat. An aerial view of the lighthouse is offered by Mackinac Seaplane Tours.

The lighthouse is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds/tower closed.

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