The Island itself sits near the entrance to Black Bay with the light station marking the shipping channel to Thunder Bay, east of Isle Royale. Its name is derived from the volcanic rock common on the island. Even now, when I visit, I comb the beaches looking for “Thunder Eggs” – igneous stones with crystalized centers. The light was the second commissioned on the Canadian shores of Lake Superior and became operational on July 1st, 1873.
After I had completed the first draft of the manuscript, I found out quite by accident that Cliff’s wife, Frances, at 96 years of age, was living in an apartment in town and would happily review my story. Frances and Cliff served at Porphyry from 1959 to 1979 where, for a number of years, Frances filled the role of assistant.
I vaguely remember meeting Cliff and Frances in the 1970’s out at Porphyry. They used a tractor to haul supplies from the boat harbour up to the point, and Cliff gave my sisters and I a ride and a tour of the lighthouse. I think that was when I first fell in love with lighthouses.
Frances has read The Lightkeeper’s Daughters a couple of times. She gave me valuable information about life on the island, feedback on the story (she remembers bears being a nuisance!) and told me her favourite places to sneak away to on the island. She paid me the greatest compliment a writer could every receive and brought me to tears when she said reading my story made her feel like she was back on Porphyry again.
I'm sure I'll visit again soon. I'm not sure if it's the wind or the Lake or the light itself that keeps calling me, but I hear them whispering.