Description of Historic Place
The Mabou Lighthouse is a tall, slender, two-storey, square-tapered lighttower surmounted by a short, four-sided lantern. The tower features classical proportions and detailing including pedimented openings and six-over-six sash windows, as well as a flared or coved cornice, which supports a metal railing at the gallery level. The Mabou Lighthouse stands amidst a small cluster of utilitarian waterfront buildings located on the shoreline near the mouth of the Mabou Harbour, on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Mabou Lighthouse is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Mabou Lighthouse is associated with the national theme of aids to navigation. Mabou tower was originally one of two lighthouses erected by the Canadian government as range lights to safely guide fishing boats and coastal steamers transporting goods into Mabou Harbour, the only protected harbour on the western side of Cape Breton. Since 1987, the lighthouse functions as a single harbour light guiding fishing boats towards the wharf. Built in response to the increased shipping activity at the Mabou Harbour, the lighthouse supported the development of the two local industries of fishing and gypsum mining.
The Mabou Lighthouse is good example of a square-tapered lighttower with a flared or coved cornice, and is characterized by a slender, elegant composition, as well as classical proportions and details. The design of the Mabou Lighthouse, although somewhat atypical for a range light which is usually smaller and simpler, is consistent with the standard lighthouse plan developed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries and commonly used for harbour or minor coastal lights. The square-tapered tower design features a wide base simple interior layout, and is a sturdy, economical structure constructed of solid, durable, good quality craftsmanship and materials.
The Mabou Lighthouse is compatible with the character of a natural harbour in a coastal setting. Located on the shoreline, the lighthouse stands amidst a small cluster of utilitarian waterfront buildings randomly dispersed around its base. Consistent with the scale and materials of the surrounding structures, the Mabou Lighthouse is highly valued by the communities of Mabou Harbour and is well known in Cape Breton, as well as at the regional and provincial levels.
Catherine Cournoyer, Mabou Lighthouse, Mabou Harbour, Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 02-049; Mabou Lighthouse, Mabou Harbour, Nova Scotia. Heritage Character Statement 02-049.
The character-defining elements of the Mabou Lighthouse should be respected.
Its distinctive design, standard plan and its good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
-the slender, elegant composition which consists of a two-storey square-tapered tower with a flared or coved cornice;
-the classical proportions and detailing including the pedimented window and door openings, six-over-six sash windows and cornice;
-the simple, square, four-sided wood lantern;
-the wide, square base which creates a spacious and adaptable interior on the ground floor level;
-the simple interior layout which is well suited to its function as a lighthouse;
-the sturdy, solid construction and durable materials including the wood frame, reinforced concrete foundation and clapboard siding.
The compatibility of the building with the character of a coastal town at the edge of a shallow harbour in a marine setting as evidenced in:
-its visual prominence owing to its scale, massing and materials;
-its symbolic value to the communities of Mabou Harbour as a reminder of the dependence of the area on ocean-based activities.