The keepers house is a museum housing many artifacts and displays show the hardships sailors experienced on the St. Lawrence River. There are also displays related to the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, near the light station, in 1914.
A visit to the Museum is never complete unless you climb the 128 steps of the Lighthouse, one of the highest 33 meters (108’ ) in Canada, with a guide .
The tower of this 3rd Lighthouse, built in 1909, is an octagonal shape, built of re-enforced concrete and strengthened by eight pillars of the same materiel, a rare style for Canadian lighthouses. The optic lens installed in the new lighthouse was a marvel of precision.
At the beginning of the century, the high volume of traffic made it necessary to construct a new better equipped Lighthouse. In 1908, this site was chosen to install a stronger light. The new lens had an internal diameter of one meter and a focal distance of half a meter. In the Spring of 1909, the new 33 meters (108’) high Lighthouse was inaugurated for the Navigation Season.
The light used the principle of concentrated beams and projected reflection by means of prisms and lenses. This device of glass and cooper weighed one and half ton, and rested in a bath of mercury to avoid friction while in motion. The movement of this device was similar to a Grand Father clock and weighed 272kg (600 lbs) which had to be rewound by hand. The mechanism was such that it turned once every 15 seconds, therefore there were 4 flashes of light every 7½ seconds (specific code for Pointe-au-Père). The lighthouse code at Cap-Chat was two flashes, Petit-Métis three and Pointe-au-Père four. Their codes helped mariners to locate their positions.
In 1940, the lighting systems were changed to incandescence bulbs with tungsten filaments. Twenty years later these were changed to mercury vapour and could be seen for 22 nautical miles (40.7 km). In 1960, Transport Canada began to automate all Lighthouses and Pointe-au-Père did not escape. In 1975, a 4th entirely automated lighthouse was erected just east of the original. In 1976, the 3rd lighthouse was transferred to Parks Canada. Today it is a witness to the importance of this historic site at Pointe-au Père.
The fog alarm shed
Since light cannot be visible a long distance in bad weather conditions a sound signal must be added to the light transmitted by the lighthouse. In the beginning there was a cannon at Point-au-Père that was fired every half-hour once the weather conditions and visibility warranted it, later (1894-1903) it was replaced by an explosive signal given every 20 minutes.
Information courtesy of Site Historic Maritime of Quebec.
The lighthouse is owned by Parks Canada and managed by Site Historique Maritime de la Pointe-au-Pere.
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