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 Île Joncas (Petite Natashquan), PQ    
Description: The Village of Natashquan is situated on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Quebec’s Côte-Nord Region and takes its name from the adjacent Natashquan River, which was mapped and named in the seventeenth century. Natashquan comes from the Innu language and means “where one hunts for bear.”

Lighthouse on Île Joncas circa 1905
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Quebec’s Route 138 was reached Natashquan in 1996, and on September 26, 2013, a forty-kilometre-long extension from Natashquan to Kegaska was opened with the inauguration of a bridge across the Natashquan River. The Quebec government plans to eventually extend QC-138 to Labrador, but this will require building 425 kilometres of highway.

Before QC-138 reached Natashquan, the only link to the village was by water, and navigational aids were thus critical in helping guide mariners into the harbour. Three different light stations were built over the years near Natashquan.

The first lighthouse, established in 1906 on rocky Île Joncas, just offshore from the village, was known early on as Natashkwan Harbor Lighthouse. The Department of Marine published the following description of this structure in 1906:

A lighthouse established in Little Natashkwan harbour was put in operation on July 1, 1906. The lighthouse stands on the west extremity of the island at the entrance to the harbour, replacing the beacon of skeleton steelwork formerly maintained there. It is a wooden tower, square in plan, with sloping sides, painted white, surmounted by a square wooden lantern, painted white, with roof red. It is 32 feet high from its base to the ventilator on the lantern. The light is a fixed white dioptric light of the seventh order, elevated 33 feet above high water mark and visible 11 miles from all points of approach. The tower was erected by day’s labour under the supervision of the Quebec agency and cost $1,578.

Elie Landry was hired as the first keeper of the light, and in 1910, an oil and shelter shed was added to the island.

In 1912, work began on a concrete tower on Natashquan Point, roughly thirteen kilometres southeast of the village, to serve as a coastal light. In addition to the lighthouse, a dwelling, oil store, and boathouse were built at the station. The white, hexagonal tower with its six buttresses and red lantern room was equipped with a fourth-order, triple-flash lens and was placed in operation in 1914. The lighthouse stood forty-six feet tall and had a focal plane of sixty-six feet above the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The tower was erected by day’s labour under the direction of C. Carbonneau and cost $15,401.18. W. Landry was hired as the first keeper of Natashquan Point Lighthouse.

Remains of Natashquan Point Lighthouse in 2007
Photograph courtesy Roland Tremblay/td>
The third light station built near Natashquan was placed in operation in 1915 in the form of a pair of range lights to guide mariner’s into the harbour. These lights were exhibited from poles that had a white shed at their base and were fitted with a diamond-shaped, slatwork daymark to make them more visible during daylight hours. The front light was situated 433 yards north of the government wharf, and the rear light was located 102 years north of the front light. C. Landry was hired as the first keeper of the range lights.

A diaphone fog alarm was added to Natashquan Point Lighthouse around 1931 to help mariners navigate during periods of limited visibility.

Realizing that Natashquan Point Lighthouse was threatened due to erosion of the bank on which it stood, the Coast Guard erected a thirty-foot-tall skeletal tower nearby in 1992 to display a light. Three years later, the hexagonal, concrete tower toppled over the bluff in the spring of 1995. Natashquan Point Light was discontinued around 2006, but the remains of the concrete tower can still be seen on the beach at the point.

Little Natashquan Lighthouse on Île Joncas was demolished during a storm in the winter of 1969 and was subsequently replaced by a thirty-foot-tall, skeletal tower. The light on Île Joncas and the harbour’s range lights, known now as Petite Natashquan Range, remain active today.

Keepers:

  • Little Natashquan: Elie Landry (1906 – 1910), Dovilas Landry (1910 – 1932), J. Bourgeois (1932 – at least 1937), Jos Edouard Landry (1951 – 1969).
  • Natashquan Point: W. Landry (1914 – 1929), D. Landry (1929 – at least 1937), Cyrille A. Landry (1948 – 1967), Paul Adrien Vigneault (1970 – 1987).
  • Natashquan Range: C. Landry (1915 – at least 1923), Jos Edouard Landry (1959 – 1972).

References

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

Location: Located on Île Joncas, at the entrance to the harbour at Natashquan.
Latitude: 50.182476
Longitude: -61.844144

For a larger map of Île Joncas (Petite Natashquan) Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map.


Travel Instructions: Take QC-138 to Natashquan and then turn right on Chemin de Robins and continue to the wharf from where you can get a good view of the tower on Île Joncas.

The light is owned by the Canadian Coast Guard. Grounds open, tower closed.

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