Isn't that a beautiful lighthouse? Point Iroquois Lighthouse is at the foot of Whitefish Bay (made famous around the country by Gordon Lightfoot's song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald") on Lake Superior. It was built in 1870, replacing the first wooden structures that had served there since 1857. It operated as a functioning lighthouse until 1962, when it was replaced by an automated light across the shipping channel near Gros Cap, Ontario. The building was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Why is this significant? My husband and I are in the process of applying to be the volunteer lighthouse keepers for a year in 2022. The volunteer keepers live in the larger side of the lighthouse duplex - to the right in this photo - while the smaller side and the tower are open to the public from mid-May to early-October every year. Our duties would include keeping the grounds, greeting guests, working in the little bookstore (yes! it has a bookstore!), and performing the general maintenance.
If this all works out, I can only imagine sitting in this historic building, looking out over majestic Lake Superior, and writing down the stories they want me to tell.
Why talk about this on Colonial Quills? Because this area was very busy during the Colonial period. The first white men to come were the French explorers Brule and Grenoble. Point Iroquois became a familiar landmark for the French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries who followed.
The name of the place, Point Iroquois, comes from an Indian massacre that happened here in 1662. The local natives were Ojibwe who fished and hunted the area. In 1662, an Iroquois war party invaded in an attempt to control more of the fur trade. The Ojibwe defeated the Iroquois on the shores where the lighthouse stands today. The Ojibwe called this place "Nau-do-we-e-gun-ing," which means "Place of Iroquois Bones."
While our history books fixate on only the greed and expansion of the Europeans in this country, it's good to remember that people are people no matter the color of their skin. The desire for a better life - however one defines that - is not and never was limited to one sector of the human race. The Ojibwe slaughtered the Iroquois in 1662 to stop their westward expansion and protect their own interests. In the years that followed, they'd fight many more battles with other tribes as well as the Europeans who came with their metal pots, woven cloth, whiskey, and guns. But they couldn't stop progress any more than we can today. Yesterday's metal pots are today's cell phones. Can you imagine going back to a time before we had them?
Pegg Thomas writes "History with a Touch of Humor."
November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders