MP-1986.7.2.7 | Lightship No. 2, Lake St. Louis, QC, 1902

Lightship No. 2, Lake St. Louis, QC, 1902
Paul Jobin
May 1902, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
8.3 x 10.8 cm
Gift of M. Paul Jobin
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  boat (1192) , Photograph (77678) , Transportation (2517)
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Keys to History

There were more than a dozen lightships in Canada in 1867. Lightships were former wooden ships rebuilt to hold a beacon light. Most were located in the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Some had bells and foghorns. Because they were moveable, they could be anchored in either shallow water, to indicate danger, or deeper water, to mark a passageway.

Life aboard these stationary ships was hard for crew members, mainly because of the vessel's constant pitching, which in very bad weather could affect even seasoned sailors. After the storm, and the return of calmer waters, the crew still had to deal with the boredom and routine of shipboard life.

  • What

    Lightships were mobile navigation markers used in places where building a permanent lighthouse was too difficult. However, both types of lighthouse served the same purpose: to indicate a channel or obstacle in the water.

  • Where

    In Canada, lightships were used most often in inland waters such as in lakes St. Louis and St. François, where ship traffic was always heavy.

  • When

    Lightship No. 2, on Lac St. Louis, was built in 1850. Lightships were most prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although some were still used well into the 20th century, now there is only one in use in Canada.

  • Who

    Canadian lightships were built in shipyards in Canada and in Great Britian. Although some were manufactured especially of that purpose, most were old ships that had been fitted out as lighthouses.