The Grand Harbor Lighthouse on Fish Fluke Point, Ross Island Canada, was built in 1879, a square wooden tower 32-feet tall with the Keeper’s dwelling attached. Its fixed-white catoptric light was visible for 11 miles in clear weather. It was closed in 1963 when a replacement lighthouse went up on the nearby Ingalls Head breakwater, then smashed hard by the Groundhog Day Gale in 1976.
It has not been repaired since, prompting calls by locals and lighthouse aficionados for ownership to be transferred to a more dutiful custodian.
Looking out over the Bay, white wooden boards battered grey. Image from Robert Williams.
How it looked before the 1969 Gale. Image from the Canadian Coast Guard.
The history of the Grand Harbor Light tells us something of the Machiavellian political chicanery involved in becoming and remaining a Lighthouse Keeper. The light’s second Keeper, Mark Dagget, had served for 14 years when charges of political partisanship, failure to give proper attention to the station, and being absent from the station and unable to assist in a drowning situation were brought against him.
He refuted all charges as an attempt to take his government-appointed job away, ran up a petition of local citizens in his support, claimed he never discussed his political incinations with others, and finally beat the charge. Unfortunately he died he few years later in 1900, and despite pleas from his wife that their 18-year old son take up the Keepership, politics trumped charity, and the appointment was handed away.
Hollow now and surely on the brink of collapse. Image from Geccko.
With the foundation-stones blasted away, it can’t have long left. Visit via Cheap Holidays Abroad . Image from Swallowtail Keepers.
A few years later in 1912, the fourth Keeper, Lloyd Charles Dakin, was accused of attending a political meeting and ‘annoying’ one of the Members of Parliament. He too refuted the charges, claiming he wasn’t even at the meeting, but he lost the case and was dismissed, with just 3 days to clear out his family and possessions.
All this raises the question- why was it illegal for a lighthouse keeper to be politically partisan? Presumably to avoid the sensation that the job was handed out with any political nepotism in mind.
The light is owned by one Errol Rainess, who bought it sight-unseen in 1984 for no-one knows what reason. He spends most of his time in Belgium, and has another property in New York City that has also been neglected for the past 20 years. Image from George.
Text Sources- Lighthouse Friends
Dead Sentinels: 10 abandoned lighthouses
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