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georgian explorerThe Lake Huron Explorer - Chantry Island Lighthouse

Lighthouse buffs love Bruce County. Bruce County is well endowed with lighthouses, a concentration of lights that is hardly matched around the Great Lakes. The Lake Huron Explorer is visiting a handful of them. Today, Chantry lsland. For sailors and ships, Chantry lsland has always been a deathtrap. Surrounded by extensive ragged shoals, it had already claimed a score of sailing vessels when, in 1855, work began on a stone lighthouse. The light on Chantry lsland was lit on April 1, 1859. ln spite of this new lmperial tower, lives were still lost. Fifteen vessels were wrecked on Chantry shoals in the decade after building the light. Only the lee or east side of the island offered protection. ln the 1870s the Department of Public Works designated Chantry as an asylum harbour. Two extensive docks radiated out from the shore and the lsland, leaving a gap of 122 metres for ships seeking the shelter of a Harbour of Refuge. Still, by the turn of the century, Southampton had witnessed more wrecks than any other single place on the Bruce County coast. ln 1954, Chantry lsland's lamp was electrified. With a lightkeeper no longer needed, the lighthouse grounds were vandalized. A half-century later, Southampton's Marine Heritage Society and the Propeller Club brought the ruins of the lightkeeper's house and the lsland's gardens back to life. Volunteers have spent over 25,000 hours restoring the light station on Chantry lsland. ln 1957, the Canadian Wildlife Service declared Chantry lsland a migratory bird sanctuary. Visitation is limited to official tours offered by the Marine Heritage Society.