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.
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.
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 stunning shoreline.
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, camera, your favourite books or fishing gear.
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 shorelunch.
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 folk lore 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.
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 the rain travels across the water. The lighthouse's library offers a unique selection of bed time 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.
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