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Mohawk Island Lighthouse
Mohawk Island Lighthouse

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John Brown, born in Loneyshire Scotland in 1809, at 20 years immigrated to New York where he worked on the last stone locks of the Erie Barge Canal. These stone locks far outperformed the wooden locks of the first Welland Canal. After the purchase of the Queenston Quarry, Mr. Brown was awarded contracts to build locks, bridge abutments and roadways for the second and third Welland Canal. Being somewhat of a risk-taker, John Brown bid on the construction of the Mohawk Lighthouse, contract # 442

In the spring of 1847, a four-man crew started the temporary shelter for the men, then the stone tower. The Queenston blue shale and limestone were split in Queenston, transported overland to Port Robinson then by ship through the Welland Canal, transferred to Port Maitland via the Feeder Canal and then out to the island. The construction took two seasons. One unusual aspect of the design of this structure is that the original drawings are dated 1816, and not built until 1847. This information compels us to consider that the original purpose of the Mohawk Light may have been more for the benefit of the naval station in Port Maitland than Great Lakes Ships, since the Welland Canal did not cut through Humberstone until 1833.

His work was so fine that it was samples of his plaster and cement won him medals in the Paris exhibition in 1855 and London's World exhibition in 1862.

From Old News Papers and Article

Lake Erie Fishermans Assessment Report; 176 years ago (1825) Pickering sees some old vessels of war sunk and rotting at the Naval Depot. Gull Island (Mohawk Island) near by refuge for ships.

The Dunnville Gazette; 116 years ago (1885) P o r t Maitland, Obituary for Captain John Burgess, .. . In the spring of 1848, he was appointed by the Government to take charge of the Mohawk Island lighthouse, then newly erected. He held this position until the fall of 1873, when he was superannuated and placed on the retirement list. Deceased leaves two sons and two daughters and a large number of relatives to mourn his loss.

The Dunnville Chronicle; 101 years' ago (1900) Stromness, The Bay View Fish Co. are running excursions daily to Mohawk Island and receiving a very liberal patronage. They carried about 50 people down on Thursday evening, where an enjoyable time was spent with lighthouse-keeper Smithers. The party returning well pleased with the trip.

The Dunnville Gazette and Chronicle; 69 years ago (1932) Port Maitland, There is a lengthy story of the two missing Foster men Richard age 61, his son James, 25. It tells how the family waits anxiously daily and that another son Richard Foster Jr., and Mr. Ovide Charette made a visit to Mohawk Island and found it closed for the winter with the light fixed in a stationary position for the winter. It further tells of that what made this even more tragic is the two men had been returning home to assist the family after there had been a fire in the home. It tells about the search effort by local fisherman as well as the United States Coast Guard.