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"lighthouse pelee Island"The waters of Lake Erie surround rustic Pelee Island about halfway between Sandusky, Ohio on one side, and Leamington, Ontario, Canada on the other side. Pelee Island lighthouse was constructed in 1833 and is the oldest stone lighthouse on Lake Erie and the second oldest lighthouse in the Great Lakes on the Canadian side. It was built to guide vessels through the dangerous Pelee Passage, a 20-mile channel that runs between Pelee Island and the Canadian mainland. The lighthouse has an interesting history, dating back to its first keeper, William McCormick, who was also the man who donated the land for the lighthouse to be built on along with the stone used to build the tower. Story has it that a young Robert E. Lee (later to become commander of all Confederate troops during the War between the States) visited Pelee Island in July of 1835 to work on a boundary survey for United States and Canada. When he visited the lighthouse he encountered the keeper. Whether the keeper was unfriendly or Lee provoked him is
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unclear, but an altercation occurred and Lee killed the keeper. Whether Lee was cleared of any charges or left before he could be charged with a crime is also unclear, but local records indicate that Lee stole a few glass lampshades before leaving. Jokingly it is said that if there had have been a lawn mower or hedge clippers he would have taken them too…hey what are neighbours for? Over the years the lighthouse had a number of keepers but one of the most noteworthy was James Cummins, who was awarded a gold watch by the Dominion of Canada for gallant services in saving lives of people from two different shipwrecks. Pelee Island lighthouse sat in disrepair from 1909 until August of 2000 when it was taken off the list of the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List of endangered lighthouses, after being restored.