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Les Becquets Lighthouse

The wharf at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets was formerly an important commercial link for the village, and in 1997, the municipality acquired it to preserve this heritage and to create a river park where the public can enjoy views of the majestic St. Lawrence River.

Octagonal tower that served at Les Becquets until 1918
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets was first settled around 1700, and in the early 1800s, a dock was established to connect the community with Batiscan on the north shore and other settlements along the river. Regular ferry service between Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets and Batiscan began in 1839, and during the winter an “ice road” was marked across the frozen river. Ferry service was discontinued in the fall of 1950.

The first lighthouse at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets was established in 1844 in the form of an octagonal wooden tower placed on the summit of Saint-Pierre Point. This tower stood thirty feet tall but had a focal plane of eighty-five feet above the river. Twenty-five square feet of land for the lighthouse was purchased from Michael William Baby of Quebec City for the sum of £50, and to this was added another twelve square feet acquired in 1870 from F.X.O Methot.

One of the early keepers of the lighthouse was Siméon C. Francoeur, who served from 1862 to 1901. In 1877, the light was being produced by a No. 1 flat-wick lamp and a No.1 circular-wick lamp that were set respectively in fifteen-inch and twenty-inch reflectors and consumed about seventy gallons of oil per season.

In November 1876, William Barbour, Inspecting Engineer at Quebec City, was sent to Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets to determine why Captain Nelson of the steamer Montreal had reported that the light there was not showing well. Barbour submitted the following report on his findings to his boss:

On my arrival there, the keeper stated that his lamp had taken fire and smoked the reflector. I had the old lamp taken down, and a new lamp put up, also a reflector and told the keeper, as the nights were very long in the fall, to have the lamps well trimmed at midnight. When I left at 3 a.m., the lamps were all in good order and showing well.

Front light of range established in 1918
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
In 1918, the Department of Marine publicized changes made at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets:
On October 1, 1918, range lights were established at St. Pierre les Becquets as follows:

Front light, fixed white, catoptric, showing downstream, and a fourth-order lens with the light showing upstream and in the alignment of the range.

The light is exhibited 13 feet above the water from a square wooden building, painted white with a diamond shape on the side of the roof facing the alignment, erected at the inner end of the wharf at St. Pierre les Becquets.

The height of the structure from the base to the top of the ventilator on the lantern is 15 feet.

The light is visible 7 miles from all points of approach by water.

Rear light, fixed white, catoptric, elevated 54 feet above high water and visible 2 miles in the line of range.

The light is exhibited from a pole, 11 feet high, with white diamond-shaped slatted daymark, erected 300 feet 81° from the front light.

Directions. — The two lights in one mark the axis of the dredged channel leading to the wharf at St. Pierre les Becquets.

Light discontinued.— The fixed white light on the summit of St. Pierre Point will be permanently discontinued at the close of navigation without further notice.

The range lights at St. Pierre les Becquets wharf were discontinued at some point between 1955 and 1994 and replaced by a cylindrical mast that displays a fixed green light from the inner end of the wharf.

Keepers: Siméon C. Francoeur (1862 – 1901), Henri Perreault (1901 – 1910), M.O. Tousignant (1910 – 1912), L. Lauze (1912 – 1913), Jos. Mailly (1913 – at least 1923).

References

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

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