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Île aux Vaches Traverse Range, PQ     

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Île aux Vaches Traverse Range Lighthouse

The channel that passes between Île aux Vaches and Îles de Varennes has been marked by various range lights through the years. In 1846, two towers were erected on Pointe aux Trembles on Île de Montreal to lead mariners along the channel that ran between Pointe aux Trembles and Varennes. Land for the range lights was purchased from Antoine Lamourex and Francois Baudoin.

Skeletal tower at Pointe aux Trembles Rear
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Both of the towers were wooden, octagonal structures, with the front tower having a height of twenty-five feet and the rear tower a height of fifty-six feet. The rear tower was destroyed by fire on October 14, 1899, necessitating the erection of a temporary mast light to serve until a new tower could be constructed. This new tower took the form of a sixty-one-foot-tall, metal, skeletal tower, whose upper twenty-three feet were enclosed and painted white. The tower was supplied by the Gould, Shapley, & Muir Company of Brantford, Ontario and was erected by day labour under the supervision of E. Roy. The tower, which cost $1,294.66, stood 1,800 feet from the front range lighthouse.

The Department of Marine made the following note when the new rear tower was placed in operation:

The two lights in one, bearing S. 48 degrees W., lead through the dredged channel between Ile aux Vaches and Ile a l’Aigle to the intersection of the alignment of Ile Ste. Therese upper range lights, which show the middle of the dredged channel past Pointe aux Trembles. The alignment of the Pointe aux Trembles lights is somewhat to the northwestward of the present axis of the channel which they mark, as the Department of Public Works proposes to widen the channel on its northwest edge. Both edges of the channel are conspicuously marked by buoys.

During the winter of 1902 – 1903, the rear range tower from Pointe aux Trembles was relocated to the Village of Varennes, where it was placed in operation on the opening of navigation in 1903. The tower stood on the edge of the main road in the village, 265 feet from the church. The Department of Marine published the following description of the tower and the range known as Varennes Village or Île aux Vaches Traverse that it helped form:

The lighthouse consists of a square skeleton steel frame, painted red standing on a concrete abutment, with sloping sides, an enclosed wooden watch room and a square wooden lantern painted white. The side of the framing facing the channel is rendered more conspicuous by a wooden slat work extending below the watch room. The building is 61 feet high from the ground to the vane on the lantern.

The light is a fixed white catoptric light, elevated 80 feet above the summer level of the river, visible 4 miles in the line of range.

This light in one with the front range light on Ile a l’Aigle, bearing N. 46° E., forms a range known as Ile aux Vaches traverse range, which indicates the axis of the dredged ship channel from the point where it leaves the alignment of Ile Ste. Therese upper range lights to the bend below Ile aux Vaches light.

The work of removal was done under the supervision of Mr. E. Roy, foreman of works, at a cost of $2,637.40.

Skeletal tower in Village of Varennes
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
The Ile a l’Aigle Range was established in 1903 to mark the improved ship channel in Varennes Traverse that was 75 feet north of the old channel. Its front light was shown from a pentagonal wooden lantern that stood atop a rectangular concrete pier with a pointed nose, while the back light was displayed from a square, wooden tower that stood atop a concrete pier with a pointed nose. When this range was being built, the Department of Marine announced its intention to form the Île aux Vaches Traverse Range:
The front range building is in the axis not only of Varennes traverse, but also in the axis of Ile aux Vaches traverse, and will ultimately serve as the front light of a range to lead up from the curve off the foot of Ile aux Vaches to Pointe aux Trembles curve. It is intended to remove the Pointe aux Trembles range lighthouses, which no longer mark the middle of the channel, utilizing the back range tower, a new steel structure, for the back light of the new range. This back light will be in the village of Varennes.

The pier that supported Île a l’Aigle Front Range Light was damaged in 1959, and the following year a pole was erected for displaying the front light. In 1967, Île a l’Aigle Range received skeleton towers, which were raised in 1976. Île a l’Aigle Range is known now as Îles de Varennes Range, and the towers that serve it are believed to have been erected in the late 1980s.

At some point between 1955 and 1994, two towers were erected in the Village of Varennes to serve the Île aux Vaches Traverse Range.

Keepers:

  • Pointe aux Trembles Range: Antoine Lamourex (1848 – 1882), J. Lamarche (1889 – 1890), Hector Dubreuil (1897 – 1902).
  • Ile a l’Aigle Range:
    • Front: F.X. Lapointe (1903 – 1913), Charles Lussier (1914 - 1915), E. Malepart (1915 – 1922), H. Lapointe (1922 – at least 1923).
    • Back: Eusebe Savarie (1903 – 1912), O. Beauchemin (1912 – 1917), Arthur Langlois (1917 – at least 1923).
  • Varennes Village (Île aux Vaches Traverse): Azaire Geoffrion (1903 – 1912), Wilf. Hebert (1912 – at least 1923).

References

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

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