Today Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse is owned and operated by Larry & Pat Peterson. The resort offers an escape to nature for families, fisherman, romantic getaways or just to let nature revive you. The islands have walking trails, geocaches, and complimentary kayaks, canoes and row boats for guests to use. Pike are still hiding in the weedbeds. The islands offer a unique tranquility where you can observe nature & wildlife.
History of Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse. In the early 1950’s the Peterson family bought French Island from the Gaberdale family from Ohio. Now known as Bruce Bay Cottages the development of the tourist resort began. The 8 housekeeping cottages are located on the north shore of French Island facing the Town of Bruce Mines, Northern Ontario.
These cottages were built in the 1920s & 1940s by fishermen who loved to fish the Great Lakes. The buildings have been kept as they were built open raftered, open studding and a wood stove to take off the morning chill. In days of yore the Fishermen would float their lumber and building supplies from the Town of Bruce Mines. For years they would boat to the mainland for supplies. A road was cut through the forest from Highway 17 to McCort Point,.
Not withstanding the structure and architecture of yesteryear, homey touches have been added, and the cottages are comfortable, clean. and equipped with showers, toilets, electric ranges, refrigerators and microwave ovens.
Harold Peterson purchased McKay Island from Ralph Hixon except for 1 acre which housed the McKay Island Lighthouse which was owned by the Canadian Federal Government. The road running along the south shore of French Island in most cases follows the old Lighthouse Keeper’s trail. Eventually a bridge was built allowing vehicular access to French Island and a causeway was subsequently built over a sandbar onto McKay Island.
The McKay Island Lighthouse was built by the Canadian Federal Government in 1907 to serve the timber industry. There were no roads going to Bruce Mines from anywhere in Northern Ontario. Locomotives, mining equipment, food supplies, building materials, men, women, and children all came by ship mainly out of Owen Sound Ontario.
The Federal government made arrangements with Harold Peterson to use his power poles so they could make the Lighthouse electrically operated. Later for cost reasons they decided to build a steel standard and tear down the deteriorating Lighthouse. When Harold Peterson became aware of this he persuaded them to sell him the lighthouse. The lighthouse was in need of repairs and the renovations began.
Today the McKay Island Lighthouse is our flagship housekeeping cottage and you can climb up into the tower and out onto the “widow’s walk” to enjoy the panoramic view of the south channel, the lights of Hilton Beach on St. Joseph Island and to the north the Town of Bruce Mines. The Great Lake freighters turn around right in front of the Lighthouse to back into Trap Rock docks to load up with trap rock. The McKay Island Lighthouse history is a story onto its own.