1879 postal card, Point-au-Père (Québec) lighthouse closed for winter

Interesting card from the lighthouse keeper McWilliams at the Point-au-Père (Father Point) Québec lighthouse, informing Toronto Office that it is now closed for the Winter season.

Father Point December 11/79
Dear Sir,
Lights were extinguished this morning and navigation is consequently officially closed. I have everything stowed away for winter according to Circular letter dated Nov 18/79.

John McWilliams was lighthouse keeper from 1876 -1911. This lighthouse was the one in 1914 that received the S.O.S from the Empress of Ireland, which was sinking. It was the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history.

Sent to ‘The Superintendent of The Meteorological Service, Toronto Ont’.

Postmarked ‘FATHER POINT ---  DEC 11 79’. On back, postmarked ‘TORONTO ONT DEC 13 79’ and ‘RIMOUSKI QUE 11 DEC 79’.

One cent Queen Victoria printed stamp.

7.50 x 12 cm.

After being destroyed by fire on April 13, 1867, the lighthouse was replaced by a square, three-storey house topped by an lantern room with a focal plane of forty-eight feet. Five mammoth flat-wick lamps and twenty-one-inch reflectors were used in the lantern room to produce a fixed white light. The lamps consumed about 220 gallons of oil each season, while the fog gun went through 500 pounds of powder with a proportionate number of cartridges. Originally painted white, the lighthouse had gained a horizontal black band by 1881.

In 1876, John McWilliams became keeper of the lighthouse upon the death of the first keeper, David Lawson. Both of these keepers served as telegraph operators besides caring for the light.

Starting in 1889, the fog cannon, which had previously been fired only in response to steamer’s signals for a pilot, was fired every thirty minutes during thick weather. The cannon was replaced in 1894 by cotton powder cartridges, which gave a sharper report and were fired every twenty minutes from a long pole that extended from a derrick mounted on the roof of the gun shed. In 1901, the time between firings was reduced to fifteen minutes, and after answering a vessel’s signal, firing was continued at intervals of five minutes until the vessel had passed the station.


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