Janet Head, the person, visits lighthouse of the same name

Janet Head of Angus, centre, visited the Janet Head Lighthouse in Gordon/Barrie Island Township recently. Behind her is Peggy Koopmans, left, and Gordon/Barrie Island Township Councillor Marian Hester. PHOTO BY HELEN SIKSEK

GORDON – Janet Head the person got an up close and personal look at the Janet Head Lighthouse in person.

“The lighthouse is beautiful,” said Ms. Head, who is originally from Newfoundland and now lives in Angus, during an interview with the Recorder this past Sunday evening. 

This was Ms. Head’s first visit to the Gore Bay area. “I’m not related to anyone locally, but I’m on Facebook with Peggy Koopmans, and one of her girlfriends I work with here was telling me about the Janet Head Lighthouse. I had to come and see the lighthouse.”

She pointed out her uncle Robert Lewis was a lighthouse keeper and she noticed on a list of Janet Head Lighthouse keepers in the building the same name was posted, although she stated there is no relation. 

“Peggy planned for the visit to the Island and the lighthouse last weekend,” said Ms. Head. “It was a great trip.”

Lieutenant Wolsey Bayfield surveyed Lake Huron from the ship Recovery between 1817 and 1822 and named several features along Manitoulin Island after members of his family: Helen Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Julia Bay, Lake Wolsey and Janet Head.

Janet Head, which was named after Mr. Bayfield’s daughter, is a prominent feature on Manitoulin Island’s northern shore and helps form the protected anchorage of Gore Bay. Parliament appropriated $2,000 in 1878 for a lighthouse on Janet Head and a $1,890 contract for its construction was awarded to Richard Whiteacre, with the condition that it be completed by August 15, 1879.

The second oldest standing lighthouse on Manitoulin Island, Janet Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1879 by Mr. Carmichael and Mr. Jones, a local mason, and placed in operation on October 15 of that year. The tower stands twelve metres (forty feet) high. The octagonal red lantern room held a light designed to be visible for 18 kilometres (11 miles). A hand cranked fog horn was added to the station in 1888.

Robert Boyter, the first lighthouse keeper, was born in Kilrenny, Fife, Scotland in October 1835 and emigrated to Thornbury, Ontario around 1868. 

The lighthouse which was owned by the Fletcher family for many years is now operated and maintained by Gordon/Barrie Island Township.

The lighthouse was closed for the past couple of years but re-opened to the public once again earlier this summer. There is no cost to enter the structure, but donations are always welcomed to help with future programming and building maintenance.