PROVIDENCE BAY – Like the original Providence Bay lighthouse that helped ships and boats navigate the waters around the community, a just completed replica of the lighthouse is something that can’t be missed by those entering the community via road.
The new replica lighthouse stands just under 15 feet tall and stands to the west of the Harbour View Centre, and directly in line with Highway 551 and Mutchmor Street so that it is viewable travelling south, approaching the beach. Construction of the lighthouse, a 35 percent scale model of the original 1904-1973 lighthouse, is a project of the Central Manitoulin Discovery Centre Board and the Providence Bay/Spring Bay Lions Club.
“It is beautiful to see when you are on the main street in Providence Bay,” said Central Manitoulin Councillor Al Tribinevicius at a water, waste and education meeting last week. “It is quite an addition.”
Mayor Richard Stephens said, “it was the intention of Marcus Mohr to compliment Alex Baran and Lyle Dewar for a job well done.”
Mr. Baran constructed the lighthouse with some volunteer help in putting the sections together.
“The lantern and platform for the lighthouse was started last September and took me all winter to complete,” Mr. Baran told The Expositor. The entire base of the lighthouse was completed on Tuesday of last week. “Everything was just finished yesterday and the solar panels have been hooked up.”
Mr. Baran explained, “the (replica) lighthouse is 35 percent to scale. The original lighthouse must have been an imposing structure. I have seen a couple of great photos shortly after it was built.” He encouraged anyone in the community who has any pictures of the original lighthouse and would like to share them to contact him as eventually a plaque and a history of the lighthouse will be posted at the site.
The original Providence Bay lighthouse was automated in 1953, and just over 20 years later, on October 14, 1973, the old wooden lighthouse burned to the ground. According to some, the lighthouse was struck by lighting, but others claim the fire was set intentionally. A metal tower marks Providence Bay today, just a few steps from the foundation of the 1904 lighthouse.
On October 31, 1903, the Department of Marine and Fisheries awarded a $1,237 contract for constructing the original lighthouse at Providence Bay, and the following year the department announced the completion of the 42-foot-high structure.
“The last time the project had been considered was about 15 years ago to have a version of the lighthouse built, it was proposed to be in full size,” said Mr. Baran. “Jean Hastings was spearheading this project and over $600 was raised, donated by a local resident, to help build the lighthouse that was held by the municipality for this new project.” As well, a very generous donation was made by the Providence Bay Historical Society to make it possible.
“There has been lots of donations of labour and materials provided for the (replica) but we couldn’t have done this without the help of Lyle Dewar, who along with his son Darren and grandson Ben helped with putting the two parts of the lighthouse together,” said Mr. Baran.
The entire building project took place at Mr. Baran’s residence.
Mr. Tribinecius said at the committee meeting, “it looks good in the village and is definitely in the right location. Job well done.”