There is a lot of History to discover in and around Cabot Head Lighthouse! Follow the pages below to learn about the history of our Lighthouse.
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Cabot Head is situated on the Bruce Peninsula, in the northeastern extremity of the former Lindsay township (now part of the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula), some five miles north of Dyer Bay, a cottage hamlet overlooking Georgian Bay.
The name is used to collectively describe the promontories of Boulder Bluff, Middle Bluff, and West Bluff, and below them the foreshore flats and cobbled ridges surrounding Wingfield Basin.
The Light Keepers
Even as the light station was under construction, the question of who would be appointed keeper became one of public debate. A government position was much prized in the late nineteenth century and candidates were often selected on the basis of their political connections.
By the middle of the 1850s the settlement and exploitation of the lands along the southern fringe of Georgian Bay had sparked a rise in the volume of commercial shipping.
Cabot Head stood abreast of the Bay’s principal shipping route. From the Tobermory narrows the inbound passage to the head of the Bay, or to ports such as Owen Sound or Collingwood, brings the rocky shore below the Head uncomfortably close.
The beginnings of the commercial fishery in Georgian Bay are shrouded in mystery. No less so the origin of fishing in the vicinity of Cabot Head. Reference is found in the papers of the provincial Crown Lands Department for 1859 to a “lessee of Cabot’s Head Fishery,” but no details are given.
Following the ceding of the Bruce Peninsula to the Province of Canada in 1854 by the Ojibway, the entire Peninsula, including the rocky forest land back of Cabot Head, was divided into one hundred acre farm lots.
Not until 1870 was the upper Peninsula (Lindsay and St. Edmunds townships) thrown open to settlement and timbering.
The Light Station
Although the hazardous nature of the east shore of the Bruce Peninsula was well known (and emphasized in the public mind at least by the occasional shipwreck), it was not alarming enough to prompt government action.