Maritime History: Providence Bay Lighthouse on Manitoulin Island, Ontario

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Providence Cove is a scenic bay on Manitoulin Island’s southern shore that is noted for having the nicest sand beach on the island. The earliest European settlers to the bay, which was named by Captain Henry Bayfield during his survey of Lake Huron around 1820, were drawn by the stands of undisturbed forest, not the sandy beach. The Providence Bay Milling Company was founded in November 1870 by Thomas Garland, Ralph W. Mutchmor, and John R. McNiven, who developed a lumber bill on the Mindemoya River, which connects Midenmoya Lake and Lake Huron. Providence Bay had twenty dwellings, a hotel, a general shop, and two churches by the year 1885.

The Department of Marine and Fisheries issued a $1,237 contract for the construction of a lighthouse at Providence Bay on October 31, 1903, and the department reported the structure’s completion the following year. On the 27th of July, 1904, a light was established at Providence bay, on the south-shore of Manitoulin island, Lake Huron. The lighthouse is located at the farthest point of Providence Point, a peninsula on the east side of the bay’s mouth.

Providence Bay Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Unknown

It’s a white-painted octagonal wooden tower with sloping sides, topped by a red-painted octagonal iron lantern. It stands 42 feet tall from the ground to the top of the lantern’s ventilator.

In 1953, the Providence Bay Lighthouse was automated, and just over two decades later, on October 14, 1973, the old wooden lighthouse was destroyed by fire. Some say the lighthouse was struck by lightning, while others say the fire was started on purpose. Today, a metal tower marks Providence Bay, just a few steps from the lighthouse’s 1904 foundation.

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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