Description of Historic Place
The Light Tower at the Low Point Lightstation consists of a sturdy concrete octagonal shaft, painted white and punctuated by a few rectangular openings. Tapered at its base, it flares outward at its top to support a railed platform surmounted by a red, dome-topped iron lantern. Located on a barren point of land, the lighthouse stands prominently near the water’s edge on the east side of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Light Tower is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Light Tower is a very good illustration of the theme of aids to navigation in Canada’s coastal waters. Located in one of the East Coast’s most important harbors, on a site that has been continuously occupied by a light since 1832, it can be identified as a major coastal light, with a range of 18 nautical miles (33 kilometres). The structure is associated with a number of dedicated lighthouse keepers who were prominent members of the local community.
The Light Tower is a very good example of a traditional tapered octagonal concrete tower, possessing its characteristic components and elegant proportions. Its standard and enduring functional design was adapted by the Department of Transport to integrate the original 1832 structure’s elegant and tall circular lantern. Built using durable materials, and carefully maintained over time, the structure has endured well despite the harsh climatic conditions to which it is exposed.
Prominently positioned on a barren tip of land, the Light Tower dominates the view from several vantage points and reinforces the maritime character of this rural shoreline area. Due to the erosion of the shoreline, the former keeper’s house and outbuildings were removed, but the character of the site has been retained. As the outermost light of Sydney Harbour, it is a good marker of the harbor’s importance and also a well-known landmark to the community of mariners who circulate in the area. Much photographed and published, it is considered an icon and valued landmark in the Sydney area.
Sources: Fern Mackenzie, Low Point Lighthouse, Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 05-210; West Point Lighttower, François, Newfoundland and Labrador, Heritage Character Statement, 05-210.
The following character-defining elements of the Light Tower should be respected.
The features that illustrates the historical theme of aids to navigations in Canada’s coastal waters, notably:
- its simple design, which exemplifies an enduring type of lighthouse;
- its use of the older iron lantern recovered from the previous lighttower which had stood on the site since 1832.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design, materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the elegant taper of the octagonal shaft, its flare at the top to form a wide octagonal railed gallery, and the horizontal bands which define the plinth and top of the tower, characteristics of typical lighthouse design of the period;
- the sparse rectangular window openings with their elegant bracketed lintels;
- the circular iron lantern, a remarkable piece of technology reused from the 1832 lighthouse, and its original and powerful long-range lens system;
- the contrasting white and red colours of the shaft and lantern;
- the concrete construction of the shaft and the iron frame and surviving curved-glass panes of the lantern, materials which have endured well.
The manner in which the building reinforces the maritime character of its rural shoreline area as evidenced in:
- its recognizable silhouette, simple form and colours;
- its prominent location on a barren point of land at the head of the Sydney Harbour.