Author highlights ‘Keep the Light On’ fundraiser set for Aug. 19

Photo by Tom Rivers: A sailboat heads up the Oak Orchard Harbor channel past the Oak Orchard Lighthouse last Thursday.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 August 2023 at 6:40 pm

WATERPORT – The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum is sponsoring a “Keep the Light On” fundraiser Aug. 19 at the Carlton United Methodist Church, 1196 Archbald Rd.

The event will run from 7 to 9 p.m. and feature a dessert buffet, Lake Ontario author Susan Peterson Gateley and an old time hoedown by Kathy Vandemortel and Steve Bland.

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased Tuesday evenings at OONA concerts in the park, Fridays through Sundays at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse or by calling Chris at (585) 315-9799 or Larry at (585) 230-7829.

Susan Peterson Gateley, an author about Lake Ontario, will speak during an Aug. 19 fundraiser for the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum.

A lighthouse at Point Breeze initially was pushed by Peg Wiley, who discovered shortly after she moved there in 2002 that there used to be a lighthouse on the pier at Point Breeze. The original lighthouse was toppled in a windstorm in 1916.

That summer she set up a table to solicit donations at the Wooden Boat Festival, and soon strong community support rallied towards the cause.

In 2004 she met the late Dick Anderson, who had a replica of the lighthouse and she created an exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce office in Albion, along with 1,000 copies she had reprinted of an 1890 book on Point Breeze. The Lighthouse Museum operated under the wing of the Chamber of Commerce until they could get their own certification.

Wiley and Cheryl Staines worked months to obtain a 501 3c designation, which was approved in 2004 and the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum was officially formed.

Wiley and the lighthouse group met a $300,000 goal for the structure which was built in 2010. The lighthouse is an iconic symbol for the Orleans County featured in tourism guides. The lighthouse also includes a small museum telling the history of the original lighthouse.

Wiley and the lighthouse group are still raising money for the lighthouse – for ongoing maintenance and expenses. The Aug. 19 fundraiser features author Susan Peterson Gateley.

Gateley has written multiple books about Lake Ontario. She writes a blog about Lake Ontario. Click here to be directed to her website.

She believes you should write what you know and she knows “We live in a state with the greatest variety of water of any place in the U.S. New York is bounded by a salt water coast and contains shorelines of fresh water ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. We have shorelines of two Great Lakes and, between us and Vermont, we share a Pretty Good Lake. No other state has more diversity of water for those who like to float on boats than we do. So that’s what I write about.”

Gateley continues to say, “To explore the world of water properly you need a boat. In my view, a slow quiet boat is best. For 40 years I sailed Lake Ontario, first solo, then with a spouse. I cruised around the lake for 17 years solo with Ariel, a 23-foot sailboat. With her I discovered that our Great Lake has another nation on its northern border. I learned a lot about Ontario Province with that boat.”

More recently, Gateley and her spouse have begun exploring the Erie Canal and her latest book, just released by History Press, “Beyond the Erie,” is a history of the current version of the New York canal system that helped make this nation.

Currently, Gateley and her spouse are trying a new way to travel on the canal. They’re going to attempt a cruise powered solely by sunshine. They have equipped their 23-foot sailboat with 1,500 watts of solar panels mounted on a canopy over the deck and cabin.

“We’re leaving the mast at home and will cruise the canal for two weeks using our previously installed electric motor and batteries,” Gateley wrote in her Chronicle. “The batteries, we hope, will be charged totally from the panels.”

During her appearance at the Lighthouse fundraiser, Gateley will share more of her experiences.