ctrl down video player instagram facebook youtube pinterest twitter Home Menu Where Am I? Subscribe Popular
Northern Ontario Travel
The Official Magazine
Home > Explore > Algoma Country

Sleep in a Lighthouse

McKay Island Lighthouse - stay at the only housekeeping lighthouse in Ontario. • Credit: Algoma Country
Image credit

Sleep in a Lighthouse

Be a Keeper of the Light at The McKay Island Lighthouse

Plan your stay in Ontario's only housekeeping lighthouse accessible by car.

One of the most unusual and surreal vacation spots in Algoma Country, it's hard to imagine a more peaceful or inspiring place to stay: The McKay Island Lighthouse. Owners Pat and Larry Peterson welcome you to stay at their picturesque lighthouse, the only housekeeping lighthouse in Ontario accessible by car, to experience what it was like to be a Keeper of the Light.

For nearly 50 years, the McKay Island Lighthouse beacon was a guiding light for sailing vessels on the North Channel of Lake Huron. Built in 1907, this pretty little lighthouse was home to five Light Keepers but after the departure of the last Keeper in 1955, it became unwatched and in desperate need of repair. In the early 1960s, the Peterson family purchased the lighthouse and lovingly restored it, not only preserving the historic landmark but turning it into a beloved family retreat for many years.

BBC1907Lighthouse1907 LighthouseThe McKay Island Lighthouse circa the early 1900s.

After endless summers of watching early morning sunrises, children's laughter as they played and splashed in the water at the beach, and standing on the Widow's Walk to watch the November storms surging across the North Channel, the family decided to share their retreat with the public and the lighthouse was turned into a housekeeping rental as part of the Bruce Bay Cottages Resort. It's a truly unforgettable, and affordable, vacation spot for a family, a romantic hideaway, or a lake vacation.

mckaylighthouse freighterThe North Channel of Lake Huron is a busy waterway for vessels and guests have opportunities to watch a passing freighter. 

It's hard to overlook the homey details of the lighthouse from the handcrafted knotty pine cupboards and floors, the batten board walls of the bedrooms, and the Lake Huron treasures adorning the stairwell leading to the upper-level bedrooms and Widow's Walk staircase. Large windows on each floor give scenic views of the North Channel and a stunning shoreline.

mckaylighthouse livingroomView from the living room window at the McKay Island Lighthouse. 

The lighthouse has a fully equipped kitchen with a dining table that allows you to overlook the Channel. The lower level has one bedroom with a double bed and ensuite bathroom, the two upper-level bedrooms can sleep four, and another a three-piece bath; the lighthouse can accommodate six people quite comfortably. You'll have all the amenities of home; the only things you'll need to bring are edibles (don't forget the marshmallows!), personal belongings, a camera, your favourite books or fishing gear.

mckaylighthouse bedroomThe perfect place to rest your head -- curled up under the warmth of a quilt as waves gently lull you to sleep. 

For years, the Peterson family used the lighthouse as a place to bask in peaceful silence, listen to nature's sounds and now you too can experience a true Northern Ontario vacation here. Borrow a kayak and paddle through the deep blues of the North Channel to explore the islands by water, or dive into its cool waters on a hot, sultry summer day. There is great fishing too, and you are just moments away from catching walleye to make yourself a fresh Algoma shore lunch.

The French and McKay islands are home to nature trails that lead to scenic views and treasure hunts for geocaches that Pat has carefully hidden, that tell tales of local history and folklore of the area. There are extraordinary opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat: spotting eagles or hawks overhead, a deer quietly contemplating you with its watchful eyes, or watching the otters and beavers playing nearby. Even the simple pleasure of listening to the haunting call of the loon while relaxing with a glass of wine as you watch a glorious golden sunset in the evening from the boathouse deck.

mckaylighthouse wildlifeviewingA lighthouse guest was kayaking in Bruce Bay and all of a sudden felt like someone was looking at him -- right beside him was a deer in the water! He froze to enjoy the moment to watch the deer.

And is there a better place to watch a Great Lakes storm than from a lighthouse? Curl up in one of the big comfy chairs inside the lighthouse to watch the waves crashing over the rocks below, listen to the sound of the howling wind and watching as raindrops travel across the water. The lighthouse's library offers a unique selection of bedtime stories from books about the local history to the original Light Keepers journals. These journals give you rare insight into the daily lives of these Keepers.

Guests have observed rainbows, cloud storms and rain in the distance travelling across the water, and the November gales of the Great Lakes.

mckaylighthouse medicinewheelThe Medicine Wheel Geocache. Take time to stop and meditate at the wheel during a nature walk on the trails.

If you're looking to expand your outdoor adventures at the lighthouse, Pat listed her five favourite things to do in Algoma Country:
- Hike the local trails part of the Voyageur Trail
- Kayak Bruce Bay
- Drive the country roads and observe the Mennonites farming
- Geocache the area
- Explore St. Joseph Island

For more information about sleeping in the McKay Island Lighthouse and to book your stay, visit the Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse website at www.brucebaycottages.com

(Photo credits: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse)

Featured articles