Lighthouse Story

“History of Griffith Island Lighthouse”

The construction of the Griffith Island lighthouse began in 1856. Before the freeze-up the foundation was set and the quarried and dressed stone was ready. By July, 1857, the stone had been delivered from Owen Sound and the tower was well under way.

The light was completed and put into service in 1859, as another of the imperial towers. It is located on the northeast side of the island, which is just outside of Colpoy’s Bay. It is 25.9 meters (85 feet) above high water.

As the facility was improved over the years a good dock was built and a life-saving station with a large lifeboat was added. The keepers knew the labour involved in hauling heavy five-gallon cans of whale oil up from the beach and on up to the tower light. This job became somewhat lighter when coal oil (kerosene) became available. Entertainment was not necessary to occupy the time as it was mostly taken up in endless hours of reflector polishing. George Bennett, one of the veteran keepers, lost a leg during W.W.I. He was drowned in 1922 when returning to the island with supplies. If and when time was available for any kind of recreation, Griffith Island lightkeepers were provided with an unlimited fishing ground.

The natural beauty of the island and the abundance of wildlife gave this spot a special quality to those who appreciated nature and the life of a lightkeeper. The keeper’s house was part of the original contract and was constructed with two-foot thick stone walls, a slate roof and plastered interior. There was a kitchen, pantry, bedroom and a supplies room, with extra sleeping quarters in the loft. Although this lighthouse was automated in 1955 and the inside has gone to ruin, the original tower still stands, putting out a white flashing light that can be seen for 27.2 km (17 miles). Today the island is an exclusive game preserve owned by a private hunting club and is strictly off limits to boaters.

Comment on this Story:

(required)
(required, will not be published)
`
Comments are moderated. Please be respectful.
Post Comment

Comments:

  1. Colleen Newell
    July 18, 2012

    I am working on a project where I need to determine the high water mark and waters edge in 1857.For your write up on the Griffith Island lighthouse, I am wondering where the number 85 feet above high water came from. Does that incude the 55 ft of the lighthouse itself? Does the number pertain to present day or to 1857? Where could I find the original drawings/plans for the lighthouse?