Description of Historic Place
The Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower consists of a one-and-a-half-storey hipped roof dwelling, with a small shed-roof addition with a tapered tower rising from the centre of the roof. The windowless square tapered tower is topped by an angled cornice supporting a railed gallery and a square lantern with a pyramidal roof. A broad black stripe centred on the main façade serves as a distinctive day marker. The light tower sits on bare granite at the edge of a small island in the open waters of Georgian Bay, and serves the communities of Snug Harbour and Parry Sound. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower is a good illustration of the theme of navigational aid in Canadian inland waters at a time of rapid economic development in the Great Lakes area. The light tower serves primarily to mark the entrance to Snug Harbour, and is also part of a network of five range lights directing maritime traffic to Parry Sound. The light tower is also associated with two dedicated lightkeepers; Charles White and Dan Boterell, whose lives on the island are remembered in their community. The current light tower was built in 1894, only a few decades after the District of Parry Sound was created and timber resources were surveyed. Its construction is therefore a direct response to the increase in maritime traffic related to the economic development of Parry Sound.
The Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower is a good example of a distinctive variation of combined dwelling and light tower in a single compact building, a type used most frequently in minor coastal lighthouses in remote locations. It is notable for its vernacular qualities, its balanced composition and good proportions, its tapered tower rising from the centre of the roof, and its distinctive day marker. Built according to plans prepared by the Department of Marine and Fisheries, it is a simple and elegant response to the combined functional requirements of dwelling and light tower. The light tower was well built, using durable materials and good quality craftsmanship and materials that reflects the standards of the period. The light tower has been well maintained.
Sitting on bare granite at the edge of a small island characterized by a landscape of small outcroppings of fir trees and scrub bush, the Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower is the central feature of the island and reinforces the maritime character of the area. The changes to its site consist of a one-storey addition to the east elevation of the tower and a helipad. The relationship between the light tower and the isolated rocky shoreline on which it stands has nonetheless been maintained. The light tower is well known to the boaters who navigate from the open waters of Georgian Bay to the mainland communities of Snug Harbour and Parry Sound, as well as seasonal cottagers along the shores. The light tower has also been recognized by the Carling Township Council for its historic value.
Source: Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower, Snug Harbour, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 06-084.
The character-defining elements of the Snug Harbour Rear Range Light Tower should be respected.
The features that illustrate the theme of navigational aid in Canadian inland waters during the economic development of the Great Lakes, notably:
- its distinctive design, which includes a combined square, tapered light tower and dwelling, with the typical colours and materials of a light tower;
- its strategic location as a navigational aid at the entrance to Snug Harbour and as part of a chain of lighthouses providing direction to Parry Sound.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, and its good quality craftsmanship and materials, as manifested in:
- the balanced composition, good proportion and picturesque qualities of the one-and-a-half-storey hipped roof dwelling with its small shed-roof addition;
- the distinct expression of the tapered tower centered on the roof of the dwelling;
- the symmetrical placement of the windows and door on the elevations;
- the simple railed projecting platform supporting the lantern, with its pyramidal roof and finial-like ventilator;
- the integration of the dwelling and light tower, which could be accessed in all weather conditions;
- the use of white colour for the walls and contrasting red colour for the window surrounds and roofs, and the distinctive day marker consisting of a painted vertical black strip centered on the main façade and roof, which increase the structure’s daytime visibility;
- the use of basic and durable materials such as a stone foundation, wood framing, and metal siding cladding on the exterior, all of which have endured well.
The building’s reinforcement of the maritime character of the area and function as a familiar landmark for the neighbourhood, as evidenced in:
- its prominent position on a flat bare rock surface, in close proximity to the shoreline;
- its recognizable tower form and colours, with great visibility from the waters of Georgian Bay.