McKay Island Lighthouse
A brief (but thorough) web page devoted to the McKay Island Lighthouse.

Click the links below to go to the following sites:
Wikipedia: Lighthouses
Bruce Bay Cottages (Keepers of the Lighthouse)

Gallery Images:
Freighters
Lighthouse
Scenery

Information Pages:
The Lighthouse Today



The Lighthouse:


      The lighthouse was built in 1907 by the Canadian federal government in response  to an increase in marine traffic caused by the timber industry which had replaced the copper mining industry as the main commercial activity in  Bruce Mines.  On June 7, 1910 the deed from the Bruce Mines Copper Ltd. transferred title to the lighthouse covering 1 acre of land in deed # 903 registered on  July 20,1910. to His Majesty George V for $25.00


 The Lighthouse was constructed at the east end of  McKay Island, 2 miles (3.2 km.) from Bruce Mines: a square wooden dwelling with a tower rising from the roof with a height of  32.8 feet (10 meters).  The light was a fixed white dioptic coal vapor model with visibility of  9.3 miles (15 km).  The fog horn was operated by a hand crank.   The battery room was on the main floor.  It contained  many glass containers which had a white powdery residue along the glass wall.  Today that room is a bedroom.  There was a shed close to the water to store the boats, fuel and coal oil plus gallons of white and battleship grey paint.   The old boathouse foundation can be seen on the east shoreline by the lighthouse.

Keepers of the light:

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July 25, 1907- May 15,1915:  Joseph Harvey

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-  May 15, 1915 - Apr.7, 1946: Angus James McNeish ~ born on Apr.7,1881
-descended from a Cornish family

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- Apr. 7, 1946  -May 15, 1947: Merritt Strum  
-MPP Lynn Miller approached  Merritt  a war veteran about the 
job. He tended the light for 1 year  and then went to work for Noranda Mines in Quebec.

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- May 15, 1947 - May 31,1953 : Gordon Inch ~ born Mar. 8,1917
- OSA World War 2 Army  veteran  resigned May 31,1953

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– June1, 1953 – Oct.1, 1955: Harold Wing ~ born July 21, 1909

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- October 1, 1955 – the McKay Island Lighthouse became unwatched.

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Decedents of the Keepers of the Light:



The Centennial Tea was held May 26, 2007. Descendants from all keepers of the Light were present

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    In the 1960’s for cost reasons , the Canadian federal government decided to build a steel standard and tear down the deteriorating lighthouse. The windows were broken, birds had made their nests inside, but the light was still operational on a battery system. Harold Peterson persuaded the Government to sell the lighthouse to him in 1967 as he was the owner of the rest of the Island.
 
    The Canadian Coast Guard owns  the square of land that presently holds the skeleton tower. The steel tower was erected June 9 -11,1975.  Mr Rumley, from the Coast Guard, removed the light from the lighthouse and placed a white 4 second blinking light in the tower.  The Coast Guard is responsible for its maintenance.                                 .

      Harold and Fern Peterson owned French Island and most of Mc Kay Island and they worked to improve accessibility to the lighthouse by having a road put in from Highway 17 through the west end of Bruce Mines and on to French and Mc Kay Islands.  Along with the road came hydro power lines.  The federal government, in 1967, made arrangements with Harold Peterson to use his power poles so they could make the  skeleton tower light electrically operated

     Harold Peterson’s goal now was to save the lighthouse structure, and renovations began   under directorship of Norman Beilhartz. Norman was a skilled carpenter, plumber and electrician so he along with his son James Beilhartz , together with James Gjos, and Fred Gjos, two brothers from Desbarats, renovated the lighthouse.  Their skilled work included handmade pine cupboards. A water pressure system and septic system were also installed in 1971.   

    Presently the lighthouse is under the care of the Peterson family operating as Bruce Bay Cottages and Lighthouse, and is an all season self catering lighthouse offering a tranquil sanctuary. You can still climb the ladder to the “ widow’s walk” for an amazing panoramic view of the North Channel. Each season is unique.