On May 22, 1858, George Collins, his wife Sophia and four year old son Charles arrived at the Isle of Coves where he assumed his post as the first lightkeeper at an annual salary of $435.00
Life was not easy on this isolated island in the Canadian wilderness during the 1850’s. Collins describes the hardships he was forced to endure:
“I beg to report that in consequence of the rain which has been coming in the tower since Mr. Scott left and for the want of a stove to keep it dry. All the inside parts of the lantern glass is a glitter of ice. I have been constant tending the machinery and the above. Myself and acting assistant is nearly frozen before our watch is over we have both of us very bad cold. Every thing wet & freezing around us
I shall do all in my power to keep a good a light as possible . . . “
To make matters even worse Collins was “from and after the 22nd day of November A.D. 1858 and until the 12th day of April 1859 . . . deprived of the help of any assistant other than his wife Sophia Collins.”
Despite all the difficulties he endured, George Collins faithfully executed his duties through those first difficult weeks of operation “until the 8th day of December 1858 when the navigation was totally closed with ice.” After a long lonely winter for Collins, his wife and young son, he reported that the light “was lighted again on the 1st April 1859.”
On September 20, 1859 George Collins transferred to Nottawasaga Island were he served a long and distinguished career as lightkeeper.