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Lower Allumette Lake (Spence Island), PQ  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.   

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Lower Allumette Lake (Spence Island) Lighthouse

Allumette Island, located just offshore from Pembroke, Ontario, is the largest island in the Ottawa River. The narrow Culbute Channel passes along the northern shore of the island, while along the southern shore of the island the river widens to form Upper Allumette Lake and Lower Allumette Lake. These two “lakes” are divided by Cotnam Island, Beckett Island, and Île Morrison, and the Allumette Rapids that run between these islands.

In 1613, Samuel de Champlain, the Father of New France, travelled up the Ottawa River in search of the northern sea (Hudson Bay). On Île Morrison, Champlain met with the Algonquin elder Tessouat, who convinced the explorer to give up his quest and return to Quebec.

The Department of Marine constructed three beacon lights on the Upper Ottawa River in 1885, including one on the southern tip of Spence’s Island in Lower Allumette Lake, just upstream from the Paquette Rapids. Each of these new lights consisted of a small dioptric lantern hoisted to the top of a mast that had a small shed at its base. The total cost for the three lights was $485.

Bernard Spence was hired as the first keeper of Lower Allumette Lighthouse at an annual salary of $100, and he served in this role until 1900, after which Samuel Manders and then John Manders cared for the light.

In 1910, the present square, wooden, twenty-seven-foot-tall lighthouse was built atop a masonry foundation on Spence’s Island to replace the pole light and shed. This work was done by day labour under the direction of T.H. Brewer at a cost of $838.76. A seventh-order dioptric lens was used in the tower’s square lantern room to produce a fixed white light.

Lower Allumette Lighthouse appears to have been discontinued between 1931 and 1936, according to light lists that were readily available. The abandoned lighthouse is endangered due to neglect and is barely visible from the river due to trees that have grown up in front of it. On modern maps, the island on which the lighthouse stands is now listed as Île Lighthouse.

Head Keepers: Bernard Spence (1885 – 1900), Samuel Manders (1901 – 1907), John Manders (1907 – 1923).


  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.

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