About the Building
In 1996, my Uncle Bob wrote to the government requesting information about Gereaux Island Lighthouse. He knew this was a meaningful place for my Aunt Pat: her father grew up in this lighthouse and her grandfather was keeper. The government sent him the plans for Great Duck Island Lighthouse on Lake Huron (built in 1876) stating it was very similar in construction. They also sent a few other spec sheets and an article. Uncle Bob used this information to have a replica built for her as a gift. Fast forward many years later and Aunt Pat and Uncle Bob have shared that gift with me. I have the replica in a special place among family photos in my home.
According to an informal building report from the Federal Heritage Building Review Office, published in December 1990, Gereaux Island Lighthouse is a square tapered wooden lighttower with attached dwelling. This form had living space in both the attached dwelling and in the tower. This model was used especially in remote locations.
Our family history in Britt, Ontario, is rich and goes back to before the town had its name. Britt stretches down one road off Highway 69 along Still River to Lake Magnetewan and out to the mouth of Georgian Bay.
Mom worked on a population study when she was in high school (in the late 60s) and reported five hundred people lived there then. Approximately, three hundred people live in Britt now.
A couple times a summer dad takes me out for a sunset cruise on Georgian Bay. Every year it looks different. I wonder if it is me that has changed so I see the water and land and sun setting differently or if the bay is changing (for example: time of day, water level, location, weather). Last year we went out by Gereaux Island Lighthouse. There is something about the architecture of a lighthouse isolated on an island with the grand sky and big water that calms me. (Do all people feel a connection to lighthouses?) So every time we go out into the bay I always look for the lighthouse.
I’ve spent time in Britt every summer for over 40 years. It always feels like a homecoming. On July 29, 2016 I had my first boat ride of the year (Which is shameful. Boat rides should begin far earlier in the season). Mom and dad took me out in the bay for swimming and a picnic, visiting many of our regular spots. We started on the north shore. We swam in Sand Bay and cruised by old picnic rocks, visiting all my favourite windblown trees. This landscape inspires reflection while it serves as a living definition of resiliency.
Dad took us out on a beautiful August evening for a sunset cruise around Gereaux Island Lighthouse. What makes the water look like a mirror? Why do sunsets feel so much like coming home?
Another gorgeous day in Northeastern Georgian Bay on the water. Today I wondered if clouds could be as diverse as snowflakes.
Our family has lived in the Britt, Ontario area since the late 1800s. The landscape has become part of our family story. We feel a deep connection to the area. This year for Christmas I made my parents a video to try to capture how we feel about Georgian Bay.