Mohawk Island Light
By Michael Massett
(great grandson of Richard (Dick) Foster)

The Mohawk Island Light was built in 1848 to guide vessels to Port Maitland, which was then the upper entrance to the Welland Canal. The stone tower and small keeper's dwelling were located on a small island 1.5 miles off shore from Lowbanks, Ontario in Lake Erie.

The conical limestone tower has had the lantern removed and only walls of the keeper's dwelling remain standing.

The last keeper was Richard (Dick) Foster. Foster and his son James (Jim), died in a blizzard on their way home from the island in December, 1932. Their bodies were eventually recovered and buried on January 2, 1933. The light was automated the next year, and deactivated in 1969.

The island and lighthouse have been unmanned since 1932, and has become a rookery for ring-bill and herring gulls, cormorants and rock doves. The public is encouraged to stay away from the island, which is a national wildlife area,  during the nesting period. The island is off-limits from April 1 until August 1.

A distant view of the remaining structures is possible from the end of Pyle Road in Lowbanks.

The Mohawk Lighthouse Preservation Association is working to restore the site. The organization can be contacted at 905-774-2590 or via email at

The following poem was written to commemorate the last keeper and his son, and was published in the Dunville Chronicle:

Death Gains a Victory

Three days amid the ice and winds,
They fought their lives to save,
The sky o'erhead was dark with clouds,
And dark beneath their grave.

The slush ice closed about its prey,
Breaking with a thudding crash.
And when the anchor ice gave way,
It fell with dull, low splash.

Father nor son, ne'er thought to swerve,
As the boat drifted to and fro,
With weary heart and tranquil nerve,
Each felt his life's strength go;
Each felt his life's strength go and knew,
As time drew slowly on,
That less and less their chances grew--
Night fell and hope was gone.

Their bodies numbed by the bitter cold;
No, not a crust of bread;
No shelter from the nagry blast,
A sand bank was thier bed;
Oh, motherland, while thy native sons
Can live and die like these,
Keeping from shame that honored name,
As mistress of the seas.

Author Unknown

Click on images to enlarge

Mohawk Island in better days
From a painting by John Marshall

2011 view - Dave Wobser

Location: Mohawk Island, Eastern Lake Erie
Date Built: 1848
Active: No. Ruins

Open to


Access by boat except April 1 to August 1.

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