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Banc du Cap Brűlé, PQ     

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Banc du Cap Brűlé Lighthouse

Montée du Lac is a cove and landing on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River, just west of Cap Brűlé and Cap Rouge. The North Channel runs between the shore at Montée du Lac and Banc du Cap Brűlé, a sandy bank locate two kilometres offshore. In 1864, the Department of Public Works of Canada received a petition for the establishment of a lighthouse near Montée du Lac. The matter was referred to Trinity House at Quebec, which reported in favour of the light.

Lighthouse and front and rear range lights at Cap Brűlé
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Work on Montée du Lac Lighthouse was carried out in 1870, and the following description of the tower was provided that year:
A new lighthouse was recently also erected at Cape Rouge, Montee du Lac, County of Charlevoix, a short distance below the City of Quebec, on the north shore of the River St. Lawrence. It stands at an elevation of 175 feet above high water, is on the Catoptric system, and can be seen a distance of ten miles. Although it was designed as a minor light, principally for the benefit of coasters and other small craft, frequenting the north channel of the river at that place, still it will be found exceedingly useful late in the fall of the year to vessels of a larger class, which may require to use that channel. It was exhibited for the first time on the 28th October last.

The lighthouse exhibited the light from one No. 1 circular lamp and two No.1 flat-wick lamps, each backed by a fifteen-inch reflector, and roughly ninety gallons of oil were consumed each season. The lighthouse cost $1,447.20, but due to the difficulty in ascending the steep and rocky cape, a stairway was built in 1871 along with a storehouse for an additional cost of $221.17. Edward Simard of St. Paul’s Bay was officially appointed the first keeper of the lighthouse on January 5, 1871 at an annual salary of $300, but he had been tending the light since it was first exhibited roughly two months earlier.

In 1874, two sets of range lights were erected to lead through the Traverse of the North Channel – one set was placed on Cape Rouge (really Cap Brűlé), and the other at St. Francis on the eastern end of the Island of Orleans. The range lights at Cap Brűlé were spaced roughly 100 yards apart, and the front light was located just north of Montée du Lac Lighthouse. Each of the range lights was equipped with one mammoth flat-wick lamp and a twenty-inch reflector.

Due to its interference with the range lights, the lamp shown from the west side of Montée du Lac Lighthouse was discontinued. Keeper Simard’s salary was raised from $300 to $350 to compensate him for looking after the range lights in addition to the main light. A small dwelling for Keeper Simard was located between the lighthouse and front range light, and a wooden-plank path led from the front range light to the rear range light.

The stairs at the station were renewed in 1897 using 2,163 feet of lumber at a cost of $176.98.

Edward Simard kept the lights through 1904, making thirty-four seasons that he spent on the cape. By the time W. Labranche was placed in charge of the lights in 1905, the station was being referred to in official publications as Cap Brűlé. In 1912, the main light was discontinued, and its apparatus was placed in the front tower of the range. The upper portion of the lighthouse was removed, but the lower portion was roofed over and retained as a storage shed.

Work on two caisson foundations on Banc du Cap Brűlé began in 1929 and was completed in 1931. These piers were spaced 1,100 feet apart and each of them had a square, concrete dwelling and displayed two lights: one for a downstream range and one for an upstream range. The original downstream pier had a concrete nose and its concrete dwelling was topped by a steel, skeletal tower for displaying its rear light, while the upstream pier had a pole for displaying its rear light. New piers were built for the Banc du Cap Brűlé ranges in 1964 – 65.

Today, Banc du Cap Brűlé Downstream Range consists of a front light on the downstream pier shown from a metal tower equipped with orange slatwork daymark featuring a black vertical stripe and a rear light on the upstream pier shown from a white, cylindrical tower whose top is painted red. Banc du Cap Brűlé Upstream Range consists of a front light on the upstream pier shown from a metal tower equipped with orange slatwork daymark featuring a black vertical stripe and a rear light on the downstream pier shown from a cylindrical tower painted in red and white stripes.

Robert Bouchard served as keeper of Cap Brűlé Range from 1947 to 1968, and the following year the lights were automated. Cap Brűlé Range was deactivated in 1972, but a single light that was established that same year on the cape at a lower elevation remains in operation today as Cap Brűlé Range.

Keepers:

  • Cap Brűlé: Edward Simard (1870 – 1904), W. Labranche (1905 – 1911), F. Filion (1912 – 1922), A. Boudreault (1922), A. Lavoie (1922 – 1931), G. Bouchard (1931 – at least 1937), Robert Bouchard (1947 – 1968).
  • Banc du Cap Brűlé: Joseph Tremblay ( – 1946), Georges Tremblay (1946 – 1966), Richard Tremblay (1967 – 1970).

References

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

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