MP-1922.214.171.124 | Windmill Point gas buoy, Isle Perrot, QC, 1902
Windmill Point gas buoy, Isle Perrot, QC, 1902
1902, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process
10 x 8 cm
Gift of M. Paul Jobin
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Photograph (77678) , Transportation (2517)
Keys to History
In addition to their use in lighthouses, gas lamps were used in many of the bouys marking the channels of the St. Lawrence River. Early bouys were made of wood, but by the middle of the 19th century these had been replaced by small metal bouys that burned compressed gas. Gas buoys were small, and to reduce the frequency with which they had to be serviced, a highly compressible gas was needed. Through experimentation scientists discovered that acetylene fit the bill; acetylene could be stored under pressures of 9 to 10 atmospheres.
Navigation buoys indicate channels in a waterway, that is, where ships can safely travel. The earliest buoys were made of painted wood. Gas buoys were made of iron to prevent them from burning.
This buoy marks the navigation channel near Île Perrot in Lac St. Louis. Ships travelling to and from Lac St. Louis passed through canals: the Lachine Canal (closest to Montreal) or the Soulanges Canal (in the county of the same name).
The Pintsch system for illuminating gas buoys and lighthouses was invented in 1870 and ultimately used all over the world. The gas was stored in pressure containers and passed from there to the storage tank in the light.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Canada's navigation buoys, like its lighthouses, were managed by the federal government. Specially equipped ships installed the buoys in spring, after the ice broke up, and retrieved them in fall.