Sleep in a Lighthouse

Stay in Ontario's only housekeeping lighthouse accessible by car.

One of the most unusual and surreal vacation spots in Algoma Country is The McKay Island Lighthouse. Owners Pat and Larry Peterson welcome you to stay at their picturesque lighthouse, the only housekeeping lighthouse in Ontario accessible by car, to experience what it was like to be a Keeper of the Light.

For nearly 50 years, the McKay Island Lighthouse beacon was a guiding light for sailing vessels on the North Channel of Lake Huron. Built in 1907, this pretty little lighthouse was home to five Light Keepers but after the departure of the last Keeper in 1955, it became unwatched and in desperate need of repair. In the early 1960s, the Peterson Family purchased the lighthouse and lovingly restored it, not only preserving the historic landmark but turning it into a beloved family retreat for many years.

1907 Lighthouse; The McKay Island Lighthouse circa the early 1900s. (Photo credit: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse)

After endless summers of watching early morning sunrises, children's laughter as they played and splashed in the water at the beach, and standing on the Widow's Walk to watch the November storms surging across the North Channel, the family decided to share their retreat with the public and the lighthouse was turned into a housekeeping rental as part of the Bruce Bay Cottages Resort.

It's a truly unforgettable, and affordable, vacation spot for a family, a romantic hideaway, or a lake vacation.

mckaylighthouse freighter
The North Channel of Lake Huron is a busy waterway for vessels and guests to have opportunities to watch a passing freighter. (Photo credit: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse)battenboard

Be a Keeper of the Light at The McKay Island Lighthouse

It's hard to overlook the details of the lighthouse from the handcrafted knotty pine cupboards and floors, the battenboard walls of the bedrooms, and the Lake Huron treasures adorning the stairwell leading to the upper-level bedrooms and Widow's Walk staircase. Large windows on each floor give scenic views of the North Channel and stunning shoreline.

mckaylighthouse livingroom
View from the living room window at the McKay Island Lighthouse. (Photo credit: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse)

The lighthouse has a fully equipped kitchen with a dining table that allows you to overlook the Channel. The lower level has one bedroom with a double bed and ensuite bathroom, the two upper-level bedrooms can sleep four, and another a three-piece bath; the lighthouse can accommodate six people quite comfortably. You'll have all the amenities of home; the only things you'll need to bring are edibles (don't forget the marshmallows!), personal belongings, a camera, your favourite books or fishing gear.

mckaylighthouse bedroom
The perfect place to rest your head -- curled up under the warmth of a quilt as waves gently lull you to sleep. (Photo credit: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse)

For years, the Peterson family used the lighthouse as a place to bask in peaceful silence and listen to nature's sounds and now you too can experience a true Northern Ontario vacation here. Borrow a kayak and paddle through the deep blues of the North Channel to explore the islands by water, or dive into its cool waters on a hot, sultry summer day. There is great fishing too, and you are just moments away from catching walleye to make yourself a fresh fish shore lunch.

The French and McKay islands are home to nature trails that lead to scenic views and small beaches. There are extraordinary opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat: spotting eagles or hawks overhead, a deer quietly contemplating you with its watchful eyes or watching the otters and beavers playing nearby. Even the simple pleasure of listening to the haunting call of the loon while relaxing with a glass of wine as you watch a glorious golden sunset in the evening from the boathouse deck.

mckaylighthouse wildlifeviewing
A lighthouse guest was kayaking in Bruce Bay and all of a sudden felt like someone was looking at him -- right beside him was a deer in the water! He froze to enjoy the moment to watch the deer. (Photo credit: Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse)

No Better Place to Watch a Great Lakes Storm Than From a Lighthouse

Curl up in one of the big comfy chairs inside the lighthouse to watch the waves crashing over the rocks below, listen to the sound of the howling wind and watch as raindrops travel across the water. The lighthouse's library offers a unique selection of bedtime stories from books about the local history to the original Light Keepers journals. These journals give you a rare insight into the daily lives of these Keepers.

Guests have observed rainbows, cloud storms and rain in the distance travelling across the water, and the November gales of the Great Lakes.

mckaylighthouse medicinewheel

If you're looking to expand your outdoor adventures at the lighthouse, Pat listed her five favourite things to do in Algoma Country:

  1. Hike the local trails part of the Voyageur Trail
  2. Kayak Bruce Bay
  3. Drive the country roads and observe the Mennonites farming
  4. Geocache the area. The postal code for Bruce Mines is P0R 1C0
  5. Experience nearby St. Joseph Island

For more information about sleeping in the McKay Island Lighthouse and to book your stay, visit the Bruce Bay Cottages & Lighthouse website at

About Heather Bot

I'm a staff writer for Algoma Country and I hope my articles entice you to plan your next vacation in Algoma. Our beautiful area has everything you need for a true outdoor adventure: fishing and hunting, epic touring routes and breathtaking outdoors. We are home to many awesome places to eat, cool places to shop, museums and galleries, festivals and events. 

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