Description of Historic Place
The Gabarus Light Tower is a hexagonal, tapered, wooden light tower that is topped by a hexagonal, metal-and-glass lantern. The design of the light tower includes a wood-frame structure, a straight cornice, a railed gallery, contrasting white and red colours and a gable-roofed entrance vestibule projecting from the wall and displaying. The light tower is found in an isolated area on the sparsely populated, rugged coastline of Cape Breton. It sits on a small hill overlooking the harbour at the entrance of Gabarus Bay near the small village of Gabarus. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Gabarus Light Tower is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Gabarus Light Tower is a useful illustration of the theme of navigational aid in Canadian waters. It is a medium harbour light with a range of eight nautical miles. Located at the entrance to Gabarus Harbour, it guides small fishing boats and recreational boaters through the shallow waters of the channel leading into the harbour. Built circa 1890, the Gabarus Light Tower is a very good illustration of the prosperity of Gabarus at the end of the 19th century. Today, the light tower continues to serve a broad community comprised of several villages within a 24-kilometer radius.
The Gabarus Light Tower is a good surviving example of wooden, tapered light towers with hexagonal configurations. It is well proportioned, and despite the loss of some of its original detailing and the addition of vinyl siding, it retains good visual qualities. Built to a standard plan prepared by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, its simple plan reveals good functional quality. With its sturdy construction, the light tower reveals good quality craftsmanship and materials, having withstood the natural elements over an extended period of time.
The presence of the Gabarus Light Tower in a remote and natural landscape reinforces the maritime character of the area. Set on a rocky coastline in a sparsely populated region, it is surrounded by glacial till, sands and gravel. The relationship between the light tower and its site has been retained. Due to its prominent location, the light tower is visible from various points in the village of Gabarus. It is a well-known reference point for the local community and a familiar landmark for the small-scale fishers and recreational boaters who use this area.
Sources: Elizabeth Butler, Gabarus Lighthouse, Gabarus Bay, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Report, 05-205; Heritage Character Statement, 05-205.
The character-defining elements of the Gabarus Light Tower should be respected.
Features that illustrate the theme of navigational aid in Canadian waters, notably:
- its standard-plan light tower design;
- its continued use as a medium harbour light;
- its location at the entrance to Gabarus Harbour.
Its good aesthetic design, functional design, and good quality of craftsmanship and materials, as manifested in:
- its good proportions and simple massing, characterized by a hexagonal base, tapered walls, and a straight cornice supporting a railed gallery and a hexagonal lantern;
- its gable-roofed entrance vestibule projecting from the wall;
- its simple functional plan and sturdy construction;
- the use of white colour for the shaft and red colour for the roof and lantern;
- the use of durable materials such as a wooden framing and siding, and a metal-and-glass lantern.
The manner in which it reinforces the maritime character of the area and functions as a reference point for the local community, as evidenced in:
- its prominent location on a small hill overlooking the harbour at Gabarus Bay;
- its isolated siting, facing the shoreline on three sides, set apart from the village of Gabarus and accessible by a gravel road;
- its visibility from various points in the village of Gabarus.