Cape Mudge Lighthouse

Quadra Island, Canada | C.1898

Photo Credit: Holly Morrison

The river channel known as Discovery Passage was once a treacherous route for ships traveling between the Georgia Strait and Johnstone Strait in British Columbia, Canada. But in the middle of this danger zone sits Quadra Island, home to the Cape Mudge Lighthouse.

Before a lighthouse was ever built along the shores of Quadra Island, seamen faced the unpredictable waters in the channel. Though first inhabited by First Nations peoples, British and Spanish explorers battled for control of the region in the 18th century. British Navy officer, George Vancouver, named Cape Mudge after his first lieutenant, Zachary Mudge.

At first glance, the southern entrance to the Passage looks tranquil and calm. However, just north is the Seymour Narrows, a section of the passage known for turbulence. Vancouver described them as “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.” As the Klondike gold rush brought more maritime activity to the area, the need for a lighthouse became greater. In 1898, G.H. Frost constructed the lighthouse for $1,225.

Though the lighthouse saw its fair share of shipwrecks, it was instrumental in preventing them, too. Its light keeper, a Scottish settler named James Davidson, known both for his fiercely independent personality and life saving tactics, was crucial during the 1911 shipwreck of the Cottage City, guiding the lifeboats to shore after the rocky reef crash.

Today, the Cape Mudge Lighthouse still stands on Quadra Island. Extending from a square wooden dwelling at the base, the lantern is centered on a red hipped roof. Standing 9.8 meters (32 ft) above the water, the lighthouse can be seen for 10 miles.

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