For anyone who lives on the shores of a Great Lake, the power of the water and winds is well known and appreciated.
On the shore of Lake Huron at the mouth of the Saugeen River in Southampton, stands one of the community’s three range lights, that sends out its beam at night and sounds its fog horn when the air is thick with fog.
The Range Light, along with the McNab Range Light, are among the first heritage lighthouses/structures that were designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act of 2008.
In recent years, particularly with rising water levels, the lake has pounded against the range light taking its toll on the exterior. During the past winter (2019/20), the very high water levels and high winds exerted considerable damage to the outside of the structure, particularly, on the west wall that receives the brunt of Lake Huron’s waves.
“We realized the damage that was being done by Lake Huron,” said Bill Streeter of the Saugeen Shores Heritage Committee and long-time resident of Southampton. “We also realized that the range light was a heritage structure that must be preserved.”
This week, (August 31st) work began to help restore the range light or, at the least, to give it a fighting chance before winter arrives.
Currently, work is underway on the west wall, although it may be a temporary repair until it has been determined what a more permanent solution may be. The wall will have water proofing material and plywood installed, that will be painted white, to enable the light to get through this winter. Seaman’s employees were at work on Tuesday, September 1st. “The damage is really just cosmetic,” said Mark Wallace, emphasizing that “The structure itself is really well built and structurally sound.”
The strength of the lake can also be seen with the collapse of the concrete walkway leading to the range light.
The range light was established in 1883 but not as we see it today.