Point Porphyry – A Must See — Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Point Porphyry – A Must See

Fishing is good with Striker’s, Makok, and Whitewater lodges each reporting plenty of fish and master anglers caught and released. The big pike are still cruising off the walleye holes during the day and don’t appear to have started their sunbathing in the shallows. Which is good as water is up, in fact, way up on most lakes!

Recently, I was fortunate to be involved in a trip to one of the local lighthouses close to Thunder Bay. Point Porphyry  Lighthouse Station was first built in 1873 on an island, where it gets it name, about 40 miles SE of Thunder Bay. I accompanied a group of people representing a newly formed non-profit called Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior. All very passionate and excited about their newly acquired piece of history the group gathered information that will help them plan their first preservation adventure. Their objective is to preserve, restore, maintain, and promote the lighthouses located on the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior.

With modern day technology, these lighthouses have undergone a transformation over the past few decades as the big lights have been replaced with small automated beacons. Strategically located, these lighthouses were once manned and a part of a critical navigational safety net for the Great Lakes directing ships away from hazards. Point Porphyry, the second lighthouse built, on the greatest of the great lakes, was fully automated by about 1980, after 100 years of operation, and recently declared surplus by The Canadian Coast Guard.

Bob McKay, the last light keeper and caretaker of this majestic site accompanied the group to Point Porphyry; he retired in 1979. His love for the island and fond memories were immediately evident as we approached and circled Point Porphyry in the DeHavilland Beaver; and what a memory this gentleman has! Whether it is the location of overgrown trails from past decades, grave sites from the eighteen hundreds, rare flora, stories of run aground ships, past light keepers, local fishing lore, and much more, Bob is a walking specimen and testament of a rare and what seems to me as a dying breed. History oozes from his every word and his recollection of events includes the smallest detail; you know your talking with the real McCoy, or in his case, McKay!

We are working with this “friends of the lighthouses” group to offer floatplane access to what will surely be a must-see tourist site for the Thunder Bay area. Our aerial tours already include a birds’ eye view of a couple of lighthouses like Trowbridge Island and the colourful rock formations they are built around and upon. For those fishing groups looking to add a little something to your annual fishing trip next year, you may want to consider a “side trip” to Point Porphyry; it’s worth a visit. It just so happens a near-by bay is an excellent place to wet a line; more on that in the future.


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