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Argyle, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/09/05

General view of the Lighthouse, 1989.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, D. Carter - Edwards, 1989.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Seal Island Lighthouse
Phare de l'île Seal

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Lighthouse, also known as Seal Island Lighthouse, is located on an island situated near the Bay of Fundy. The sturdy lighthouse is a tapered, octagonal tower, constructed in heavy timber and capped with a prominent, octagonal lantern. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Lighthouse is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Lighthouse is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the development of lighthouses in Atlantic Canada during the colonial period (pre-1867). The fourth oldest lighthouse in Canada, it was constructed as a response to the many shipwrecks which occurred in and past the Bay of Fundy during the primacy of the Maritimes as a world shipping power. It is of strong regional importance because of its close association with the Hichen and Crowell families who founded Canada’s first life-saving station at this site. The establishment of the lighthouse came as a result of the lobbying efforts of Mary Crowell. Its construction and maintenance also demonstrate a significant joint venture between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to address the reliance on shipping by the colonies which produced heavy traffic off the south-west coast of Nova Scotia and into the Bay of Fundy.

Architectural Value
The Lighthouse is a good example of early 19th-century lighthouse construction. The very good functional design demonstrates a distinctively Canadian departure from typical British plans. Its timber design was suited to the Canadian-Atlantic climate and benefited from local skills and materials. This lighthouse and its contemporaries set the pattern for similar inexpensive, wooden navigational aids, which became the hallmark of the Canadian navigational system from this point well into the 20th century.

Environmental Value
The Lighthouse reinforces the character of its maritime, coastal setting and is a well-known landmark in the region.

Sources: Gordon Fulton, Lighttower, Big Shippegan, New Brunswick, Lighttower, Pictou Bar, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office, Building Report 90-099, 90-105; Seal Island Lighthouse, Seal Island, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 89-175.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Lighthouse should be respected.

Its 19th-century Canadian lighthouse design, very good functional design, and craftsmanship and materials, for example:
-the tapered octagonal form and prominent lantern;
-the heavy timber constuction and masonry foundation;
-the structural features such as trenails, braces and knees;
-the shingle cladding, its doorway and two small windows;
-the interior wooden stairs.

The manner in which the Lighthouse reinforces the character of the maritime, coastal setting, and is a well-known structure in the region, as evidenced by:
-the picturesque qualities of its design and form, which complement the harsh, natural environment, and the adjacent structures at the site;
-its high visibility within the area given its large scale and location;
-its use as a landmark for recreational, fishing and commercial marine traffic off the coast of Nova Scotia, which makes it well-known.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Navigational Aid or Lighthouse

Architect / Designer

Joint venture of New Brunswick, under the direction of Tidmarch and Sangent, and Nova Scotia, under the direction of Ward and Barlow



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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