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Wellers Bay Range, ON  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Wellers Bay Range Lighthouse

Wellers Bay is located on the western end of Prince Edward County, directly opposite Presqu’ile Bay. The capacious bay offered potential as a harbour of refuge, but a sandspit extended across almost all of its mouth. By the 1830s, lumbermen were using a small opening in the barrier beach protecting Wellers Bay to float timber to The Carrying Place, from where it could be hauled across the isthmus separating the bay from the Bay of Quinte. In the 1850s, storms created a substantial opening in the sand spit allowing vessels to access the bay and call at the town of Consecon.

In November 1856, three schooners were wrecked near Wellers Bay, and the captain and first mate of one of the three schooners were drowned. This loss prompted petitions for the entrance to Wellers Bay to be improved and lighted. An engineer for the department of Public Works examined Wellers Bay and concluded that as much of the sandspit had been washed away, the bay no longer offered adequate shelter. In addition, two rocky shoals were located near the entrance. Rather than spend money on Wellers Bay, the engineer proposed that any available money be spent on improving access to Presqu’ile Bay.

In the 1860s, the shoals that were shown on an admiralty chart to be located at the entrance to Wellers Bay were investigated and found not to exist. Still, range lights to mark the entrance to Wellers Bay were not established until 1876. The following Notice to Mariners publicized the completion of the range lights:

Notice is hereby given that two Lights, erected by the Government of Canada, near the west end of the Quinte Carrying Place, in the County of Prince Edward, and Province of Ontario, to guide vessels through the entrance to Weller’s Bay, will be put in operation on the 8th August next.

The lights are fixed Catoptric Lights; the front one Red, elevated 29 feet above high water mark, and the back one White, elevated 43 ½ feet above high water mark.

The towers are open frame work, painted white. The front tower, distant 150 feet from high water mark is 27 feet high from base to vane; the back tower 480 feet behind the other and in range with the channel is 37 feet high from base to vane.

The Annual Report of the Department of Marine for 1876 noted that the front range tower was “covered in” rather than being open framework as mentioned in the Notice to Mariners. The report also indicated that the front tower was painted white all the way down, and the open trelliswork rear tower was painted red.

Reuben Young, who owned the land on which the range lights were placed, was appointed the first keeper at an annual salary of $150. In 1876 – 1877, a twenty-eight by twenty-foot dwelling with four rooms on the ground floor and three bedrooms was built near the range lights.

The 1881 Census shows that Rueben Young was seventy-five and his wife Nancy seventy-three. It is believed that the responsibility for daily care of the lights fell upon Edward Silverson, who was fifty-eight at the time of the census. Silverson was employed as the head tanner of the tannery owned by Reuben Young.

Changes came to the range lights in 1889 when William Orser was appointed keeper, and the back tower was moved thirty-seven feet to the east to show the alignment for the best water over the bar at Wellers Bay. A whitewashed tripod that stood sixteen feet tall was also erected on the sandspit in 1889, but it was carried away the following winter.

In 1892, the range lights were moved 840 to the west to indicated the best alignment for entering Wellers Bay. During the relocation, it was found that the sills and parts of the posts of the towers were rotten, so the decayed portions were replaced with new timber.

Sailing Directions for Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River to Montreal published in 1907 noted that Wellers Bay as a “commercial point is practically abandoned, and the old pier is nearly rotted away.” In addition, there were now shoals in the approach to the bay, and the sandspit had extended to the north making it necessary to keep to the northwest of the range line when entering the bay. The rear range light at Wellers Bay was discontinued in 1908, and a publication in May 1911 noted that the range lights had been permanently discontinued.

Keepers: Reuben Young (1876 – 1889), William Orser (1889 – 1898), Henry J. Chase (1898 – 1910).


  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.
  2. For Want of a Lighthouse, Marc Seguin, 2015.

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