The Canadian Watch List of Threatened Lighthouses

In the U.S., the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List has been a powerful tool for focusing attention on endnagered lighthouses. Although several of the most critically endangered Canadian lighthouses have been added to the Lighthouse Digest list, it does not cover Canada thoroughly. Unfortunately, no complete list of threatened Canadian lighthouses is available. (The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society does have a Canadian Doomsday List, but it is not truly national in scope; 13 of the 17 lighthouses listed are in Nova Scotia.)

This is a working list of threatened Canadian lighthouses, including the ones on the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. This list has no official standing. It is very much a work in progress, and comments are welcome. The list includes only sites where the lighthouse itself appears to be endangered. There are many Canadian light stations where the lighthouse is active and well maintained but the historic keeper's quarters and other buildings are abandoned and endangered.

The symbols preceding the entries are my highly unofficial estimates of the degree of danger to the lighthouse. Here is what the symbols mean:

  • x The lighthouse is not in danger of actual destruction at the present time, but it is increasingly dilapidated and urgently needs restoration.
  • xx The lighthouse is in danger of actual destruction within ten years. Action is needed now to prevent loss of the lighthouse later.
  • xxx The lighthouse is in imminent danger of destruction. Immediate action is needed to save the structure. The lighthouse could be lost in less than a year.
  • Y The lighthouse is in ruins. A significant portion of the historic structure has already been lost, and restoration would require reconstruction.
Newfoundland and Labrador
x Offer Wadham Island
1858 (Robert Oke). Inactive since early 1990s (?). 40 ft (?) octagonal cylindrical tower, brick and stone encased in concrete. Lantern removed. This historic, abandoned lighthouse stands on a small island difficult to access. The site is still owned by the Coast Guard. Prognosis: uncertain.
x Baccalieu Island
1859 (Robert Oke). Inactive since the early 1990s. 36 ft cylindrical brick tower, encased in iron since 1893. This lighthouse still has its lantern. It stands next to an active light tower, but is rusty and unmaintained. Prognosis: uncertain.
xx Little Burin Island (2)
1950s. Inactive since 1977. White lantern mounted on the roof of the former fog signal building. This small lighthouse was abandoned after being damaged in a storm; the lantern is likely to be lost soon. Prognosis: poor.
Prince Edward Island
x Big Tignish (Judes Point)
1881. Inactive since 1997. Approx. 30 ft square pyramidal frame tower, painted white with red trim; lantern painted red. The lighthouse appears to be in poor condition in Michel Forand's photo; no preservation effort has been reported. Prognosis: uncertain.
x Cascumpeque (2)
1899. Inactive since 1970. Approx. 48 ft square frame pyramidal tower attached to 2-story frame keeper's quarters. This is an active light station, but the historic lighthouse is not being maintained. Prognosis: uncertain.
xx Cape Tryon (2)
1969. Active. 39 ft square pyramidal shingled tower painted white with red trim; lantern roof is red. Lighthouse reported endangered by erosion of the cliff on which it stands. Prognosis: uncertain.
Nova Scotia
xx Margaree Island
I have no information on this lighthouse, but it is listed on the NSLPS Doomsday List as "defunct." There is a modern light on the island. Prognosis: unknown.
xxx McNeil Beach (2)
1909. Inactive. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal frame tower, painted white with red trim; lantern roof is red. Michel Forand visited the lighthouse in September 2005 and found it to be in very poor condition. Prognosis: poor.
xx Man of War Point
1912. Inactive. Approx. 25 ft square pyramidal frame tower. NSLPS Doomsday List. As of 2001, the lighthouse was reported to be partially dismantled and in two pieces. Prognosis: uncertain.
x Coffin Island (2)
1914. Active. 52 ft octagonal concrete tower, painted white; lantern is red. Endangered by beach erosion, the lighthouse was scheduled for demolition in 1998. The quickly-formed Coffin Island Lighthouse Heritage Society was able to get the demolition postponed long enough for a $70,000 project to protect the shore with large boulders. However, the lighthouse itself is reported in poor condition. Prognosis: fair.
xx Sambro
1758. Active. 25 m (82 ft) octagonal stone tower faced with wood shingles. Two 1-story frame keeper's house, in poor condition and placed on the Canadian Doomsday List; 1-story oil house. Despite restoration as recently as 1998, North America's oldest lighthouse is in deteriorating condition. In late 2005 the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society expressed serious concern about the condition of the station. Prognosis: fair.
Y Little Hope Island
1906. Active until 2003. 77 ft cylindrical concrete tower with six buttresses, painted white. This lighthouse was badly damaged by Hurricane Juan in September 2003 and then collapsed during a nor'easter in December. Only rubble remains. Prognosis: hopeless.
x Seal Island
1831. Active. This is the second oldest lighthouse in Nova Scotia, after Sambro. The NSLPS Doomsday List notes it "is facing severe neglect with leaks, rotten shingles and peeling paint.." Prognosis: uncertain.
x [Sable Island West End (8)]
1980s. Inactive since 2004. 26 m (85 ft) skeletal tower; the lower 2/3 is pyramidal and the upper 1/3 is cylindrical and carries large rectangular red and white daymarks. No lantern. The west end of the island retreats rapidly eastward, causing the light station to be relocated in 1882, 1888, 1916, 1940, 1951, 1971, and 1980. The light was deactivated in July 2004; given the rapid erosion in the area, it must be considered endangered. Prognosis: uncertain.
New Brunswick
xx Dixon Point Range Rear (2)
1919. Inactive. Approx. 30 ft square pyramidal frame tower, painted white with red trim; lantern is red. This abandoned lighthouse is in poor condition and is deteriorating quickly. Prognosis: poor.
x Cape Jourimain
1870. Inactive since 1997. 53 ft octagonal frame tower, painted white; lantern is red. This historic lighthouse was deactivated in 1997 when the new Confederation Bridge, linking New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, was completed. Now abandoned by the Coast Guard, it is beginning to deteriorate. Prognosis: poor.
xx Cape Tormentine Outer Wharf Range Rear (2)
1907. Inactive since 1997. 40 ft square pyramidal frame tower, raised on pilings, painted white with red trim and a broad vertical red stripe on the range line; lantern is red. Abandoned with the end of ferry service in 1997, this lighthouse is rapidly deteriorating. Prognosis: poor.
xx Indian Point Range Front and Rear
1955. Inactive since 1998. 20 ft square pyramidal frame tower, painted white with a broad vertical red stripe on the range line. Abandoned and in very poor condition. Prognosis: poor.
x Grindstone Island (2)
1908. Inactive since 2001. 68 ft hexagonal concrete tower with six buttresses. The future of this abandoned light station is unclear, and the lighthouse is beginning to deteriorate without maintenance. Prognosis: uncertain.
xx Lower Musquash Island (2)
1924. Inactive since about 1994. 37 square pyramidal frame tower. This abandoned lighthouse is on the NBLPS Endangered List. Prognosis: poor.
xx St. Andrews
1833. Inactive since 1938. Approx. 30 ft octagonal pyramidal frame tower, painted white. As of early 2002 this historic and long-abandoned lighthouse was in poor condition, as was the seawall that supported it. In July 2002 the St. Andrews Civic Trust relocated the tower about 50 ft from the seawall so that it could be restored, a project expected to cost $200,000. Eventually the seawall is to be repaired and the restored lighthouse returned to its original location; it may even be relit. Prognosis: good.
Y Grand Harbour
1879. Inactive since 1963. Square pyramidal frame tower attached to 1-1/2 story frame keeper's quarters. The abandoned lighthouse is collapsing in ruins. Once called "the most endangered lighthouse in North America," it has become a lost cause. "Saving" it now would mean rebuilding it from scratch. Daggett has a page with historic photos and heart-breaking recent photos. Prognosis: hopeless.
x Gannet Rock
1831 (John Purvis). Active. 75 ft octagonal pyramidal frame tower attached to 2-story stone keeper's quarters. The lantern is modern (1967). Staffed until 1996, this historic lighthouse has deteriorated sadly since it was automated. However, the Coast Guard was expecting to begin an extensive restoration is 2003. Prognosis: good.
x Escarpement Bagot (Bagot Bluff) (2)
1912. Inactive since about 1980. Pyramidal concrete tower with flying buttresses; lantern removed. Information is needed on the condition of this Île d'Anticosti lighthouse. Prognosis: poor.
xx Pointe du Sud-Ouest (Southwest Point)
1831. Inactive since the early 1990s. 80 ft stone tower, originally painted white with two horizontal red bands. The abandoned lighthouse, also on Île d'Anticosti, is falling quickly into ruins. Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List; also on the NSLPS Doomsday List. Prognosis: poor.
xx Long Pèlerin (Long Pilgrim) (1)
1862. Inactive since 1982. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) cylindrical tower, formerly rising from the center of 1-1/2 story keeper's quarters. Lantern removed. The keeper's house has been demolished, leaving the tower standing; the abandoned tower is open to the elements and crumbling. Prognosis: poor.
x Île aux Oeufs (2)
1950. Inactive since 2003. 36 ft octagonal concrete (?) tower, painted white; lantern is red. According to Robert Giroux of the Canadian Coast Guard, this lighthouse was deactivated in October 2003 but there are no immediate plans to demolish it. The light is located on a small island in the St. Lawrence and could deteriorate quickly wiothout maintenance. Prognosis: uncertain.
xx Île Sainte-Hélène (Île Ronde Range Rear)
1912. Inactive for many years. 48 ft square concrete tower on a square concrete base; wooden lantern. The history of this light is not well known. The only lighthouse in the city of Montreal, it has been repeatedly vandalized and is clearly endangered. Prognosis: poor.
x Pointe Beaudette (Pointe au Beaudet, McKie Point) (2)
1877. Inactive since 1962. 9 m (30 ft) square pyramidal frame tower, painted white; no lantern. The lighthouse was to be demolished after deactivation, but instead it was leased by two neighboring landowners. The lantern was removed after it was badly damaged by a storm in 1995. The tower is now deteriorated and endangered, but the town of Rivière Beaudette is hoping to acquire it for restoration. Prognosis: uncertain.
xxx Lower Allumette Lake (2)
1909 (station established 1885). Inactive since the 1920s. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal frame tower with lantern. It has only recently been discovered that this lighthouse is still standing. Gravely endangered: abandoned for eight decades, the building is embedded in vegetation and is descending into ruin. Prognosis: very poor.
xx Prince Edward Point (Point Traverse) (1)
1881. Inactive since 1959. 36 ft square pyramidal frame tower attached to 1-1/2 story frame keeper's quarters. Clearly endangered, this abandoned lighthouse is in very poor condition, and there seems to be no restoration effort. Prognosis: poor.
Y Scotch Bonnet Island
1855. Inactive since 1959. Ruined 54 ft stone tower attached, more or less, to ruins of 1-story stone keeper's quarters. This critically endangered lighthouse is on the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. In fact it is nearly lost already and it's hard to see how it could be saved. Prognosis: hopeless.
x Burlington Canal Main (Burlington Canal Range Rear) (2)
1858 (John Brown). Inactive since 1961. 55 ft stone tower, unpainted; lantern is a rusty brown. The lighthouse appears abandoned and in poor condition. A support group was being formed in late 2003. Builder John Brown is famous as the builder of the Imperial Towers of Lake Huron. Prognosis: uncertain.
x Point Abino
1917. Inactive since 1996. 98 ft square concrete Greek Revival tower attached to 1-story keeper's quarters. This remarkable lighthouse, listed on the NSLPS Doomsday List, has been the object of an extended controversy. The land behind the lighthouse is occupied by upscale vacation homes whose owners were determined to prevent any public access to the lighthouse through their neighborhood. Although a deal was reached in 2003 allowing public tours of the lighthouse, there's no restoration plan. The lighthouse has always been dangerously close to the shoreline. Prognosis: uncertain.
xxx Mohawk Island
1848. Inactive since 1969. Approx. 80 ft stone tower attached to stone keeper's quarters; both buildings in ruins. The lighthouse was gutted by fire, and only the shells of the buildings remain. Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. The Mohawk Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed to work for restoration of the lighthouse, and fundraising is in progress. Prognosis: at least some hope.
x Pelee Island
1833. Inactive since 1909. Approx. 60 ft stone tower. This historic but long-abandoned lighthouse fell into picturesque ruins before it was rescued by the Relight the Lighthouse Committee in a restoration in 1999-2000. However, the tower seems shaky (external timber buttresses remain in place) and the lighthouse is vulnerable to wave action. Prognosis: guarded.
xx Boblo Island
1837. Inactive for many years. Approx. 40 ft stone tower. The lighthouse is in dilapidated condition; vandals set a fire in 1954 that gutted the tower and destroyed the lantern. Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List. Even being in a national park doesn't seem to be helping this crictically endangered lighthouse. Access is cut off by a restricted residential community. Prognosis: poor.
x Stokes Bay Range Front
1904. Recently deactivated (sometime in the 1990s). 33 ft square pyramidal frame tower. The tower looks OK in recent photos, but it is no longer being maintained. Prognosis: uncertain.
xx Nottawasaga Island
1858 (John Brown). Active. 94 ft limestone tower attached to 1-1/2 story stone keepers quarters. Lighthouse painted white; lantern is red. One of the six "Imperial towers." The Coast Guard has announced it is abandoning this lighthouse and will not take action the next time its light fails. The outer wall of the tower was cracked badly, probably the result of lightning strikes, and a large section of the outer wall collapsed on the night of December 1-2, 2004. A support group is being organized in Collingwood; preliminary estimates are that it will require at least $600,000 Canadian to restore the tower. The lighthouse was added to the Lighthouse Digest Doomsday List in August 2003. Prognosis: poor.
x Hope Island
1884. Inactive since the early 1990s. Approx. 35 ft square pyramidal frame tower attached to 1-1/2 story frame keeper's quarters.The lighthouse deteriorated badly after abandonment. In 2001 the Huronia Lightstation Preservation Society was formed to work for its restoration. In fall 2003 work was underway to replace the wood siding on the tower. Prognosis: good.
British Columbia
x Pine Island (2)
1967. Inactive (recently deactivated). Approx. 35 ft square cylindrical steel tower with square pyramidal skeletal bracing. Active light on cylindrical steel tower without lantern. Staffed light station. The 1967 lighthouse was not demolished when it was replaced, but clearly its continued existence is questionable. Prognosis: uncertain.

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Checked and revised January 5, 2004. Site copyright 2004 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.