First, we came across a cabin in a sheltered bay and later determined it to be a “Come ’n’ Rest” cabin in the hands of the Ministry of Natural Resources. The cabin, complete with bunks, kitchen gear, table, woodstove, deck, firepit and dock, is available as a port in a storm. Unfortunately, the cabin has recently been closed to the public. Upon closer inspection of the cabin, we found a unique feature: a cast-iron bathtub located on the shore that is heated by two adjacent campfires. We didn’t fire it up, but we couldn’t help but imagine a tired paddler or fisherman enjoying a hot frontier bath while watching the sun dip behind the trees after a long day on the water.
Docking the boat and setting up for the night was our priority. However, we also anticipated meeting up with the son of the previous lighthouse keeper, Bob Bryson. What would the trip be without some lighthouse history and sharing stories of past times and challenges? Bob did not disappoint! There were many smiles, chuckles and laughter as Bob recounted his time on the island and the times spent with his dad, John Bryson, who was the lighthouse keeper for 30 years ending in 1978.
One such story was about the common occurrence of getting the mail and what that entailed. Simple but daring by any measure, the lighthouse keeper’s task was to head out in a rowboat and cross Lake Superior at the narrowest point (10 kilometres) to get to Jackfish, a ghost town now. There, he’d pick up the mail and rest up a bit before rowing back, returning later that night.