Chantry Island is a celebrated island found in Lake Huron about a kilometre off the shore of Southampton, Ontario. Being so close to shore, Chantry Island is visible from both Southampton and Port Elgin. This tiny island is home to a historic lighthouse, an old keeper’s cottage and a bird sanctuary. There are regulations in place, and the only way to visit Chantry Island, is to arrange a boat tour from Southampton.
a breif History Of Chantry Island
The lighthouse and keeper’s cottage were built in the late 1800’s due to the high amount of traffic on the Great Lakes. Historically, the treacherous waters of Lake Huron were known to wreak havoc, leaving the light keeper no choice, but to live on the island.
The keeper ensured that the lighthouse burned brightly and was visible across the lake. The number one priority of the keeper was to watch over the sailors navigating Lake Huron. Occasionally, the light keeper would risk his own life to save the life of those greeted by misfortune in the lake. Needless to say, the life of a light keeper wasn’t easy.
Chantry Island Restorations and Volunteers
In the mid 1900’s, the lighthouse was converted to electricity and the light keeper moved off the island. This left Chantry Island to become neglected and tired. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s a group of dedicated volunteers restored the island using thousands of hours of their own time, fundraising efforts and the generosity of donations.
Volunteers are still to thank as they make boat tours to Chantry Island possible. Everything about Chantry Island has a dedicated volunteer behind it, from the grounds keepers, to tour guides, office staff and everything in between. It’s truly incredible what this group of volunteers have achieved.
Boat Tours to Chantry Island
Boat Tours to Chantry Island take about 2 hours and are possible from late May until September. In order to visit Chantry Island, you must pre-book a boat tour through Chantry Island Tours in Southampton. As the island is an important breeding grounds for many migratory birds, there are certain rules and regulations in place regarding visits. This means that there are a limited number of visitors allowed on the island each day, making it important that you book your ticket ahead of time. To book a tour to Chantry Island, you must either call the tour office or book in person. Visit Chantry Island Boat Tours to learn more about tour times.
Things to do on Chantry Island
Your boat tour will depart from Southampton and take you across Lake Huron to Chantry Island. The views and scenery from the boat are beautiful, so be sure to look around. Once you reach Chantry Island, you will explore the island with your tour guide. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse, visit the keeper’s cottage and boat house, bird watch and learn some history.
Climb the chantry island lighthouse
Climbing the lighthouse is a definite highlight while visiting Chantry Island. The lighthouse has 106 steps to the top and opens up to give you a great view of the island, Lake Huron and the shores of Southampton. The lighthouse also gives you a great look at the many birds that spend the summer months on this island.
Visit the Keeper’s cottage and Boat House
The keeper’s cottage and boat house instantly transport you back in time. Both locations have been restored to resemble the living quarters of the past. The keeper’s cottage is furnished with remarkable period furniture, linens, clothing and toys. Wandering around the house and looking at all the unique pieces, is a great way to learn about the home. The grounds around the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage are beautifully landscaped and worth a look as well.
Chantry Island has been deemed a bird sanctuary as many migratory birds spend their breeding season here. It is estimated that 50 000 birds will visit the island each year. With a vast population of birds, bird watching on Chantry Island is great. Birds can be seen and heard all over the island and can be seen best from the top of the lighthouse. Talk about a birds-eye view…
Learn Some History
The island offers a glimpse back on the heritage around Southhampton and Lake Huron. The tour guides on the island are a wealth of knowledge and give great insight into the history of the island. You will have the opportunity to learn about the past light keepers and harsh conditions they endured to keep the waterways safe.
Overall, a boat tour to Chantry Island is a great way to learn the history of Lake Huron and take in some island beauty. Since you only have to dedicate two hours to this adventure, it leaves you plenty of time to explore surrounding areas. With Southampton at your fingertips, and many other beautiful locations in Bruce County, the possibilities are endless.
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