|Southeast Bay, ON|
Description: While exploring the area in 1615, Samuel Champlain discovered a small band of people called the Nipissings living along the north shore of the lake. This tribe was known to have special powers that included talking with spirits, casting spells, and interpreting dreams. The Nipissings were unaffected by most of the tribal wars in the area until a great battle broke out between the Nipissings and the Iroquois in the mid 17th century, which decimated the Nipissings. Legend has it that a small group of Nipissings escaped to the Manitou Islands in the lake. As winter advanced, food became scarce, and the tribe sent a young girl to a shore tribe near Sturgeon Falls. When the elders of that tribe visited the Manitou Islands a few days later, there was no trace of the Nipissings and no clue where they went.
Along the south shore of Lake Nipissing, marking the entrance to Callander Bay, stands Southeast Bay Lighthouse. Built in 1877, it is the only working lighthouse left on the lake. The white square pyramidal wooden tower, with an orange vertical stripe on its seaward face, stands twenty-nine feet tall. The lighthouse originally served as the front light of the Southeast Bay Range, but when this range was discontinued in the 1990s, the tower was made a sector light. Its light occults every ten seconds and shows red from 103 degrees to 111 1/2 degrees, white from 111 1/2 degrees to 115 1/2 degrees, and green from 115 1/2 degrees to 123 degrees. Mariners entering Callander Bay know they are in a safe channel, if they see the white light.
Callander Bay measures two miles from north to south, and two and a half miles from east to west. Its water is less than thirty feet deep, and in the winter, it completely freezes over.
During the late 19th century, the bay was a hub of logging activity. Steam tugs would transport logs to the bay’s Wasi Falls, where they were lifted into a shoot that carried them over to the Ottawa River System.
The Great Depression was a difficult period for Northeast Ontario, but the area near Callander Bay once again became a buzz of activity, when the Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934. The five identical girls – Yvonne, Emilie, Annette, Marie, and Cecile – were born two months premature and survived against enormous odds. In 1936, a playground was built, and the girls were put on display for four hours a day. Around 6,000 visitors would stop by each day, and “Quintland” became Ontario’s biggest tourist attraction.
Callander Bay continues to bustle in the summer with vacation cottages, camps and lodges.
Located on the south side of the entrance to Callander Bay from Lake Nipissing. The lighthouse is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds/tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds/tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright JACLAY, used by permission.