Miscou Island Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada
Miscou Island Lighthouse
Miscou Island Light Tower
Phare de l’île Miscou
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Miscou Island Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada is a mid-19th century wooden lighthouse, located at the north-eastern tip of Miscou Island at Birch Point Cape, New Brunswick. It is strategically placed on a flat and exposed coastline surrounded by low scrubland, at the southern entrance of Chaleur Bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The tower’s tapered octagonal massing is shingle-clad, and capped by a polygonal lantern behind a cast-iron rail. A mid 20th-century foghorn building stands on its side. Official recognition refers to the legal property boundary at the time of designation (1974).
Miscou Island Lighthouse was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1974 because:
- it is considered a major coastal aid to navigation and substantially in its original state, this lighthouse is among the oldest in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. [SOCI as derived from Plaque text]
The heritage value of Miscou Island Lighthouse lies in its critical and longstanding role as a lighthouse as embodied by the tower’s function, setting, and composition. In 1856, the lighthouse was constructed by the Province of New Brunswick to reduce the number of shipping accidents in the region. Subsequently, it became a major coastal aid, providing safe navigation for ships entering the Chaleur Bay and for coastal traffic between the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec.
The Miscou Island Lighthouse is one of the rarest surviving wooden, octagonal, tapered lighthouses. The construction technique was unusual as the eight panels were built independently of each other. The lighthouse’s functional design was enhanced with the installation of a powerful dioptric light and a diaphone fog alarm. In 1903, its height was raised from 22.5 to 24.3 metres in order to extend the range of light. In 1946, the entire lighthouse was relocated 61 metres inland due to shoreline erosion. Today, the light is automated and still operating.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1976, 2006.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location at Birch Point Cape on the northeastern end of Miscou Island, New Brunswick;
- its coastline setting, overlooking Chaleur Bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
- its octagonal massing and tapered profile;
- the heavy timber construction with its evidence of hand-hewn craftsmanship;
- the simple exterior detailing including: the shingle cladding, the shed roofs or pedimented caps over the openings, the staggered four-over-four double-hung windows; and the curved soffit beneath the lantern deck;
- the four-storey configuration of the interior with its straight stairs;
- its polygonal lantern set behind a cast iron rail;
- the colour selection and scheme characteristic of lighthouses, including a white exterior with red trim;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet identified archaeological evidence associated with the lighthouse;
- its continued operation as a lighthouse;
- the unobstructed viewscapes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Chaleur Bay, and the Gaspé Peninsula.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1903/01/01 to 1903/01/01
1946/01/01 to 1946/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Navigational Aid or Lighthouse
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection