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Long Pèlerin (Long Pilgrim), PQ  Lighthouse best viewed by boat or plane.   

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Long Pèlerin (Long Pilgrim) Lighthouse

The Pilgrim Islands are a group of five islands, just off the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River, ten miles south of Rivière-du-Loup. With a length of 2.5 miles and a maximum width of 750 feet, Long Pilgrim is by far the longest. The other islands in the group are Great Pilgrim, Middle Pilgrims, and Little Pilgrim. The grouping reportedly received its name because the islands resemble a person with hands folded in prayer - Great Pilgrim is the head, the two Middle Pilgrims are the folded hands, and Long Pilgrim and Little Pilgrim make up the body.

In 1860, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada appropriated $40,000 for erecting five lighthouses along the St. Lawrence River below Quebec City, namely at Brandy Pots, Long Pilgrim Island, Grande Isle de Kamouraska, Bellechasse Island, and Crane Island. Nineteen tenders for the construction of the lighthouses were received on July 14 of that year, and the “most eligible” was determined to be that of Louis Dery, a builder from Quebec City.

Long Pilgrim Lighthouse in 1937
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
Lanterns and lighting apparatuses were ordered from England, and during the winter of 1860 – 1861, materials were assembled for the project. In May of 1861, the chief engineer of the Department of Public Works examined the islands and fixed the precise spot for the five lighthouses. Construction started immediately thereafter, and three of the five lighthouses, those that were built of wood, were finished that season and their lighting apparatuses were fitted up. Work on the other two, those at Long Pilgrim and Brandy Pots, was well advanced by the end of the season, and the lighting apparatuses had been delivered.

The following description of Long Pilgrim Lighthouse was printed in the 1861 Report of the Commissioner of Public Works:

Long Pilgrim Island. The site of the light house at this place is on a narrow ridge, about 180 feet over the sea, and a little west of the middle island.

The tower is 30 feet high, circular, and built of brick. A dwelling house and store rooms, of timber frame-work, are built around it, over the roof of which the tower stands 12 feet.

The light is to be of the 4th order on the catadioptric principle, and will illuminate 180 degrees of the horizon. Centre of light, 212 feet over the sea.

The lighthouses at Long Pilgrim and Brandy Pots were very similar, and after their lenses were installed, their fixed white lights were put into commission during the summer of 1862. The towers both measured thirty-nine feet from their bases to the vanes on their lantern rooms, and the lighthouses were painted drab. Only one mammoth flat-wick lamp was used inside the fourth-order Fresnel lenses at Long Pilgrim and Brandy Pots. The other three lights built that year used a collection of lamps and reflectors in the lantern; Bellechase and Crane Islands both used five lamps and reflectors, while seven were used at Kamouraska. As the consumption of oil was proportional to the number of lamps used, a great savings in oil could be realized through the adoption of the Fresnel lens. (Long Pilgrim required roughly seventy gallons of oil annually, while 200 gallons were needed at Crane Island). Still, it took many years before Fresnel lenses were widely deployed in the province.

The first keeper at Long Pilgrim was Jean Canac Marquis, who served until 1878, when his son, Jean Canac Marquis, Jr., took charge of the light. The longest serving keeper was Hypolite Morin, who kept the light from 1898 to 1929.

A new dwelling was built at Long Pilgrim in 1908 at a cost of $3,534.62.

Long Pilgrim Lighthouse was automated in 1957, and then replaced in 1982 by a nearby forty-six-foot skeletal metal tower that displays a white flash every six seconds. The keeper’s dwelling was demolished in the 1980s, but the original brick tower, minus its lantern room, remains standing next to the modern tower.

Keepers: Jean Canac Marquis (1861 - 1878), Jean Canac Marquis, Jr. (1878 - 1881), David Desjardins (1881 - 1898), Hypolite Morin (1898 - 1929), Jean-Philippe Morin (1929 - 1931), J. Ouellet (1931 - at least 1936), Joseph Ouellette (1948 - 1957).


  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, various years.
  2. Report of the Commissioner of Public Works, various years.

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