VIEW-8101 | Lighthouse at Matane, QC, 1915

Lighthouse at Matane, QC, 1915
Wm. Notman & Son
Probably 1915, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Photograph (77678) , transport (150)
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Keys to History

Optical Systems
All lighthouses are equipped with optical reflectors that concentrate the light from the lamp in a high-intensity beam. In the earliest lamps the reflector was a parabolic mirror placed right behind it. Catatropic reflectors (from the Greek katoptron, meaning "mirror") could magnify lamplight seven-fold. These inexpensive mirror reflectors were used in Canadian lighthouses until the early 20th century.

They were gradually replaced by lens reflectors called dioptric reflectors (from the Greek dioptrikê, meaning "to see through"). They use lenses and prisms to intensify a light beam and are even more effective than catoptric reflectors.

Both systems were, however, fragile. One of the first duties of lighthouse keepers in the morning was to protect the reflector or lens from the sun's rays by drawing a curtain over it, as can be seen in this photograph of the lighthouse at Matane.

  • What

    The Matane Lighthouse is a cylindrical tower 20.5 metres high. Like several of the lighthouses in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, such as the ones at Belle Isle (in Newfoundland) and Pointe-à-la-Renommée (in Gaspé, Quebec), the Matane Lighthouse is made of precast iron.

  • Where

    Matane is located on the north shore of the Gaspé Peninsula, a region of the Gulf of St. Lawrence that is often foggy.

  • When

    The lighthouse dates from 1907. Today it is used as a tourist information centre.

  • Who

    The Matane Lighthouse was built when William Patrick Anderson was the director of the Lighthouse Board of Canada. During his term of office, several lighthouses were constructed or rebuilt on the St. Lawrence.