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Lighthouse Cove (population 200) is a scenic lakeside community located at the easternmost edge of the town of Lakeshore in Essex County, Ontario, Canada on Lake St. Clair. The Cove boasts the second oldest lighthouse in the Province of Ontario — the Thames River Lighthouse. It was built in 1818 as a result of the War of 1812 between Canada and the United States. A sign when entering Lighthouse Cove reads, “Essex County’s Hidden Jewel.”

Lighthouse History:

Family descendants of Jacques Cartier settled in the area sometime near the War of 1812. Like many fishermen and mariners of the time, they would hang a lantern near the river’s mouth to help guide them home after dark. Later a wooden framed lighthouse was constructed where the one stands today. The date of construction for this lighthouse is currently unknown. This was one of the first lighthouses built in Ontario, originally used to guide sailing and steam ships into the Thames river. It was destroyed in a fire with the foundation being used to support the current lighthouse.

Around 1818, a new lighthouse was constructed of limestone brought up from Amherstburg, Ontario. It measures 4 feet (1.22m) thick at the base tapering to 2 feet (0.61m) thick at the top. In 1867, the lantern room was raised to increase the range of the light. This addition brought the lighthouse to its current height of 55 feet (17m).

You can clearly see where the addition started with a stone ring marking the original height. Originally a large brass kerosene lantern omitted a revolving beacon visible for 12 miles (19km). The lantern was replaced in 1963 with an electric beacon.

The Cartier family had three generations of keepers from its first day of operation through 1950. A riverman by the name of C.W. Riberdy took over with the last keeper being Armand Jacob.

As the years progressed, the lighthouse became used more for the guiding of pleasure boaters and fishermen. In 1966 a steel tower was built nearby with an automated light. The lighthouse, leaning and cracked, was decommissioned with the lighting equipment removed.

After years of neglect, from 1973 to 1975 the lighthouse was dismantled stone by stone, the foundation was leveled and the lighthouse was then reconstructed. This was done by the Lower Thames River Conservation Authority to preserve an important part of Lake St. Clair’s history. It is now a conservation and recreation area.

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