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The Canadian Coast Guard Celebrates 50 Years!
Our History in Lights
Le phare de l’île Verte, en 1946. Lighthouse at Île-Verte in 1946.

Collection Jocelyn and Charles Lindsay

For the last 50 years, the history of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has evolved with technological developments and the needs of the growing shipping industry in the St. Lawrence waterway.

Among the aids to navigation that have been implemented over the last two centuries, lighthouses remain the most visible marine signaling device. Symbols of maritime cultural heritage, they help mariners reach their destination. Note that the first lighthouse to be operated on the St. Lawrence River was on Île-Verte in 1809. At that time, a federal government steamer (or steamboat) supplied the lighthouses on the St. Lawrence twice a year. The life of a lightkeeper, who monitored navigation and ensured that the facilities functioned, was one of isolation, and often of poor diet and danger.

Improvements to the CCG's Aids to Navigation Program and the entry into service of new buoy tenders capable of carrying helicopters were instrumental in making the lives of lightkeepers and their families easier. The equipped landing platforms, which allow helicopters to land at—and even on top of—lighthouse sites, have made more frequent changes in staff possible while facilitating the supply of food and mail delivery, as well as medical evacuations.

The most significant change in the last 30 years is undoubtedly the automation of lighthouses and the gradual withdrawal of lightkeepers. With rising maintenance costs and technological developments, the lighthouses near the waters under the Quebec Region CCG's responsibility have been abandoned, automated or destroyed since the early 1970s. Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, several lighthouses have been recovered, or are in the process of being recovered, by various citizens' groups in order to preserve and make these relics accessible to those interested in marine history. Visit the Route des phares site to plan visits.

What a great way to look towards the future without losing track of the past!

La route des phares du Québec (in French only)

50eyears of service

Logo du 50e anniversaire de la Garde côtière canadienne

Carole Dumont et Guy Laberge
Canadian Coast Guard
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