Description of Historic Place
The Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower consists of a two-storey light tower with an attached one-and-a-half storey gable-roofed dwelling and one-storey shed-roofed addition. The square tapered tower is topped by an angled cornice supporting a railed observation platform and an octagonal lantern. Both dwelling and tower sections feature regularly disposed windows with surrounds projecting from the tapered walls. The light tower is the central feature of a rocky and isolated island surrounded by the open waters of Georgian Bay. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower is a useful illustration of the theme of navigational aids in Canadian inland waters at a time of rapid economic development in the Great Lakes region. The lighthouse was moved from Gin Rock Island to its current location in 1900 to provide direction to the area served by the Severn Channel and Honey Harbour. Over its long life, two dedicated keepers have tended the lighthouse, namely: William Baxter, from 1900 to 1931, and Clifford Paradis, from 1931 to 1962. The lighthouse was placed in its current location as a response to an increase in maritime traffic. It is associated with the community’s transition from a resource extraction economy to a recreation-based economy with the development of cottages along the shores. It currently serves as an Inshore Search and Rescue Centre for the Canadian Coast Guard during the navigation season.
The Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower is a good example of a combined dwelling and light tower in a single compact building, a type used most frequently in minor coast lights in remote locations. It is notable for its balanced proportions, its domestic scale, its use of red and white colours, and its regularly disposed window openings. 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. The lighthouse was well built, using durable materials and quality of the craftsmanship and materials that reflects the standards of the time.
As the central feature of the island and clearly visible from the water, the Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower reinforces the maritime character of the area. The rocky and isolated site has remained largely unchanged, and the relationship between the lighthouse and its surrounding landscape characterized by small outcroppings of fir trees and scrub bush has retained its original character. The light tower is familiar to the mostly recreational boaters who navigate through the Severn Channel that connects the small mainland communities and cottages to the open waters of Georgian Bay.
Sources: Burns, Robert J. 06-073, Brebeuf Island Front Range Lighthouse, Brebeuf Island, Ontario, 06-078 Janet Head Lighthouse, Gore bay, Ontario, 06-084, Snug Harbour Rear Range Lighthouse, Generator Building, Boat House and Storage Shed, Snug Harbour, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Reports 06-073, 06-078 & 06-084; Brebeuf Island Front Range Lighthouse, Brebeuf Island, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 06-073.
The character-defining elements of the Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower should be respected.
The features that illustrate the theme of navigational aids in Canadian inland waters during the economic development of the Great Lakes, notably:
- its design and materials typical of the combined square, tapered light tower and dwelling;
- its strategic location as a navigational aid on the eastern edge of the Severn Channel.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, and its good quality craftsmanship and materials, such as:
- its balanced proportions and picturesque qualities, characterized by its domestic scale, tidy massing, tapered walls, cornice line, and iron octagonal lantern set within a railed observation platform;
- its distinctive profile, consisting of a square tapered tower integrated with an attached one-and-a-half-storey gable-roofed dwelling and shed-roofed addition;
- the regularly disposed window openings with pediments projecting from the tapered walls;
- its simple and efficient interior plan, combining dwelling and tower functions, with interior stairs providing access to the light;
- the use of white colour for the walls and contrasting red colour for the window surrounds, lantern and roofs of the dwelling, which increase the structure’s daytime visibility;
- the use of basic durable materials, such as a wood frame construction clad with clapboard and set on a stone foundation.
The manner in which the Brebeuf Island Front Range Light Tower reinforces the maritime character of the area and is 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 form and colours, with great visibility from the waters of Georgian Bay.