Safe Passage: Aids to Navigation on the St. Lawrence
Lighthouse, Metis, QC, about 1875
Reverend T. Fenwick
about 1875, 19th century
Ink on paper mounted on card - Photolithography
15 x 23 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Art (2774) , drawing (18379) , Drawing (18637) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Although lighthouse keepers were not well paid, they did earn a regular salary, so being named a lighthouse keeper was considered a stroke of luck, especially considering the qualifications needed: "have good eyesight, good morals, know how to read and write, and have a good knowledge of basic arithmetic."
It was nonetheless a hard job; caring for a lighthouse and its optical equipment required skill and diligence. The main duty of the lighthouse keeper was to stand guard throughout the night-to make sure that the lamp burned brightly and never went out. The keeper was often alone while keeping vigil, but his family helped with the other duties in running the lighthouse. The keeper and his family usuallly lived in a cottage attached to the lighthouse.
This photograph shows a wooden lighthouse and the attached home for its keeper and his family.
Métis-sur-Mer is located on the north coast of Gaspé, in the Lower St. Lawrence. Its first and second lighthouses were built on a point of land that jutted into the river and was owned by John MacNider.
The first lighthouse at Métis was built in 1874. The current tower, made out of cement, was built in 1909. It is still in operation, although no keeper is required because it has been automated.
At Métis the keepers of the lighthouse before it was automated were: J. Jules Martin (1874-1879); Jules-Gabriel Martin (1879-1906); Élisée Caron (1906-1936); Georges Fafard (1954-1958); Émile Chouinard (1958-1959); Évariste Ferguson (1959-1970).