The south shore of the mouth of the Saugeen River was another favourite painting place of my friend Jane Champagne. This location also is perfect for a plein air painter. It has views of the harbour, Chantry Light, the Range Light and the fishing fleet. It also has benches and bathrooms. Ideal!
Safe marine navigation was vital to avoid the rocks and shoals around Southampton. The Imperial Tower on Chantry Island warned ships of the surrounding dangers, while 4 smaller Range Lights guided mariners safely into the harbour. Built in 1903, the front and back range lights on the Saugeen River were lined up by sailors entering the harbour, helping to stay on course until the river channel. The other two range lights guided mariners through the ‘gap’ in the Long Dock and into the Harbour of Refuge.
In the 1800s, the Front Range Light at the river’s mouth was simply a lantern attached to a mast, fastened to a crib about 50′ from the outer deck of the pier. The square tapered wooden building, painted white with a red top came in 1903. At one time, the automated fog horn came on whenever fog rolled in from the Lake. Today, it is operated by boaters with a signal from their marine radios.
It is challenging to paint the range light in the correct dimensions. I have painted it too tall, too squat and too whatever. Jane pointed out to me one day as we talked about my improper drawing of the range light that few artists got it right. Even this attempt is not perfect but Jane would be happy that I tried. There are other imperfections but I won’t point them out.