Thursday, March 31, 2016

Letete Lighthouse at Green Point

Letete Lighthouse
orig. watercolour, 21x29in approx.
see it in person at Sunbury Shores Arts from May 6-20, 2016

Now today's lighthouse is home territory for me and I have painted it quite a few times over the years. The Letete Passage has strong currents due to the high tides in our area and the ferry service to Deer Island runs through every half hour.
There is a sweet little museum in the main building which is staffed by friendly locals that share much of the local history and folklore. You can also make this your special 'home away from home' with their vacation rental on site.
Here is more info about the Letete Lighthouse and a couple of fun stories from the Lighthouse Friends' website:
Letete is derived from the French “la tete,” which means “the head,” and likely refers to the headlands that bracket the passage.
In 1878, Parliament appropriated $1,500 for the erection of a steam-powered fog alarm at Letete Passage in Charlotte County, and the following year, D. W. Clark constructed the fog alarm building and a reservoir to supply the needed water at a cost of $2,774. A fog trumpet of a new and improved design was procured from the Neptune Fog Horn Company of Quebec for $1,750 and placed in operation in 1879. Every thirty seconds during thick weather, fogs, and snowstorms, the trumpet would sound seven-second blasts that could be heard an estimated six miles with the wind and just two or three miles against the wind.
The biggest change to the station occurred in 1903, when a lighthouse was placed on Green’s Point, then also known on navigational charts as Mascabin Point. C. L McKeen of St. Andrews built the wooden octagonal tower at a contract price of $800. The lighthouse was constructed at St. Andrews in eight sections, which were then transported to the point by scow and assembled at a spot just northwest of the fog alarm building. Topped by a red, octagonal, iron lantern, the tower measures forty-three feet from its base to the top of its ventilator and originally exhibited a fixed-white light from a seventh-order lens.
In the fall of 1920, a new fog alarm building was constructed on the point to house a Class “B” diaphone, powered by oil engines. The installation was completed the following year at a cost of $7.338. Keeper Dines had little faith in the newfangled gas motors and might have given up as keeper if his son Prescott hadn’t pitched in to keep them operating.
Prescott Dines took over as keeper of Green’s Point Lighthouse in 1936 when his father Sidney retired. Though electricity arrived at nearby Letete in 1937, Prescott recalls that electricity didn’t reach the station until 1952 because a neighbor wanted to charge the power company $10 per pole to cross his land.
Prescott remembers one winter gale that blew his mother right out of a one-horse sleigh, depositing her on rocks six feet below. Thanks to a large buffalo robe she was wrapped in, she suffered no harm. “One of my mother's guests chose a very windy day to visit us at the Lighthouse and consequently, the Privy house,” Prescott recalls. “No sooner had the gentle lady finished her business and exited from the Privy - when an extra big puff of wind blew the little building over the bank and onto the rocks below.”
In 1962, a year before his retirement, Prescott, who weighed about 130 lbs., experienced the full force of the wind firsthand. “The wind was of gale proportions and it took complete and absolute charge of me. The next thing I knew I found myself down on all fours among the rocks, alone and much bruised. I made up my mind, then and there, that as soon as possible I would retire, while I still had two feet and legs on which to go.”
In the late 1980s, Green’s Point became a monitoring station for several other lighthouses in the area. While most of the nearby stations were de-staffed, four full-time keepers were needed at Green’s Point to cover all the lights.
After being fully automated since 1996, Green’s Point Light was officially decommissioned on September 8, 1999, though the fog alarm remains in use. Ownership of the lighthouse and station was transferred to the Green’s Point Light Association in July 2008. A Coast Guard monitoring station on the property has served since 2002 as a vacation rental to raise money to maintain the property.

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