Description of Historic Place
The Rear Range Light Tower consists of a four-tiered, tapered steel frame, surmounted by a wood watchroom and steel lantern, standing 28.6 meters high. The watchroom is clad in cedar shingles and flares at its top into a coved cornice supporting a gallery and wood lantern, itself coiffed with a pyramidal roof and vent stack. The light tower is painted white, and features a contrasting day mark on its front face. The light tower sits on the rocky northeast tip of Macklin Island in Georgian Bay. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Rear Range Light Tower is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Rear Range Light Tower is a good illustration of the theme of aids to navigation in Canada’s Great Lakes, as a response to the economic development along the shores of the Georgian Bay region. Built to replace the original 1889 light tower, at a time when recreational maritime traffic was increasing in the area, the Rear Range Light Tower is a useful example of the region’s last phase of economic development as a destination for tourism and recreation. It forms a functional pair with a slightly larger and more elaborate front range light tower, built at the same time. The structure is associated with a number of dedicated lighthouse keepers, prominent members of the local community.
The Rear Range Light Tower is a good example of a sub-type of steel-framed lighthouses, a clever adaptation of a technology developed for windmill construction. Built according to plans prepared by the Department of Marine and Fisheries, it combines features of traditional light towers with a utilitarian efficiency and durable method of construction, adapted to a remote location. Well built using durable materials and carefully maintained over time, the structure has endured well despite the harsh climatic conditions to which it is exposed.
Standing prominently on a rocky shore and rising above a thin conifer forest, the Rear Range Light Tower reinforces the marine character of the area, where man-made structures punctuate the predominantly wild environment of forested lakeshores. Its immediate environment has been altered by the abandonment of a nearby cottage and fishing operation, but the original character of the site has been retained. Given its strong presence and location on the open waters of the Georgian Bay, the light tower is well known to the community of commercial and recreational boaters who travel in this area. It is also a valued local landmark and symbol in the region.
Sources: Sources: Robert J. Burns, Lighttowers in Ontario: 05-171 – 05-177, 06-053, Federal Heritage Building Report, 05-175; Heritage Character Statement, 05-175.
The character-defining elements of the Rear Range Light Tower should be respected.
Features that illustrate the historical theme of aids to navigations in Canada’s Great Lakes, notably:
- its combination of innovative technologies of the early 20th century with the features of traditional light towers.
Its good aesthetic design, very good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the simple assembly of its three functional constituents: steel frame, watchroom and lantern, which clearly reflect the light tower’s function;
- its slender, tapered prefabricated skeletal steel frame, purchased from windmill manufacturers, and providing a stable and durable base, effectiveness and easy assembly in a remote location;
- the elegant upper portion of the light tower, designed after earlier wood light towers, with its wide cornice, railed projecting gallery, square steel lantern whose lines prolong those of the steel frame and of the watchroom, its pyramidal roof, and ventilator stack;
- the use of contrasting white and red colours and of the day mark panel on the structure’s front face, which increase the structure’s daytime visibility;
- the combination of basic durable materials, such as the bolted steel sections of the steel frame, wood construction and cedar shingle cladding, and steel lantern, all of which have endured well.
The manner in which the building reinforces the maritime character of its rural shoreline area, as evidenced in:
- its prominent location on the open waters of Georgian Bay;
- its recognizable tall silhouette, simple form and colours.