Thanks to everyone who came out to the range light opening on Wednesday night. We had a great turnout, with about 50 people in attendance, as well as Mayor Scott Warnock and members of council, Bruce Stanton, MP, and Garfield Dunlop, MPP. Bill has already uploaded some photos from the evening. Bandana Construction did the renovation work on the light.
One of the attendees asked that I add her article to the discussion. This was written by Barbara Andrews, a resident of Victoria Harbour and member of the Save the Range Light Committee. The article follows below.
Pearsall Forever Linked To Range Light
Jim Pearsall was raised in the shadow of the lighthouse in Victoria Harbour. His roots grow deep into the history of the lighthouse and the village in which it stands.
Currently a Victoria Harbour member of Tay Township council, Jim hopes that one day he will see the range light moved to the waterfront for all to see and share it’s historical past instead of hidden at its present location in the bush off William St.
The Belcher family first arrived in Victoria Harbour when Jim’s Great Grandfather, Robert Belcher, immigrated to Canada in 1867 at the age of 11. In 1882 he married a local girl, Emma Lyle, and opened a butcher shop.
In 1912, Robert became the second keeper of the lighthouse. Later that year, Jim’s Great Uncle, Ray Belcher became the keeper until he went off to fight in WW1. Upon his return in 1918, Ray watched over the range light until 1951 when it was converted to electricity.
On a more tragic note, another Great Uncle, Charles Belcher was killed in a shooting accident near the lighthouse in 1923. He was only 16 years old.
Jim also has a family background in local politics. His Grandfather, Harold Belcher, who married a local girl named Claretta Ball, served on a Victoria Harbour council. He worked in the local lumberyards and at the CPR grain elevators in Port McNicoll.
Harold and Claretta had 10 children. All but one was born at their home on Richard St. and delivered by Dr. McKenzie, the village doctor, who lived across the street. The eldest of these children was Pearl Belcher, Jim’s Mother. Her sister, Florence Belcher, went on to become the first female elected as a Reeve in an Ontario municipality.
Jim’s Mother, Pearl, and his Father, Clarence Pearsall, lived and worked in the Victoria Harbour area throughout their lifetime.
In 1965, Jim also married a local girl, Carol Langley. Carol had Bergie blood in her background. Ironically, one of her relatives, Charles Bergie, was the first lighthouse keeper from 1910 to 1912.
Jim’s career choice led him to serve and protect the citizens of Ontario with the OPP. After 30 years of service, Jim retired as a Sergeant of Detectives in the Orillia/Barrie Crime unit.
Jim and Carol have a son and a daughter. Both of who have followed in their Father’s footsteps. One serves with the OPP and the other is with the Midland Police Force. Also proud Grandparents, Jim and Carol take an active part in the lives of their four grandchildren.
Jim is presently a member and past president of the Victoria Harbour Lions Club.