Description of Historic Place
The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling at the Chantry Island Lightstation is one-and-a-half storey 19th-century domestic residence with a gable roof. Its rusticated stone walls, parapet roof ends and stout chimneys give the appearance of a traditional Scottish cottage, while a three-bay façade with symmetrically placed doors, windows and chimneys reflects a British Classical influence. It stands adjacent to the majestic Chantry Island light tower. The building has been meticulously restored to its original state. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling at the Chantry Island Lightstation illustrates the theme of aids to navigation on the Great Lakes through its supportive role to the light tower. In combination, the two structures form one of six stone lightstations, collectively known as the “Imperial Towers”, built on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. They were constructed under the colonial government’s 1855 initiative to support increased maritime commercial traffic after the 1854 Canada-U.S. trade treaty, and completion of the Sault Ste. Marie locks. The dwelling is associated with the Lambert family, Duncan McGregor and son William, lightkeepers from 1859 until 1907. Both are recognized regionally for their heroic rescues of survivors from wrecked vessels on Lake Huron. William McGregor was recognized for his bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association and awarded an Imperial Service medal for 27 years service. The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling is one of few remaining buildings associated with the establishment of Southampton Village, and the lightstation played a key role in its growth as a port.
The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling at the Chantry Island Lightstation is a good example of the traditional Scottish cottage of the 18th and early 19th century featuring rusticated stone walls, gabled ends and stout chimneys. A one-and-a-half storey building, it’s simple elegant design features a symmetrical three-bay façade, with central door, flanking windows and chimneys, which reflect British Classical influence. The dwelling complements the adjacent lighttower, and while its simple plan is similar to the dwelling designs of all Imperial Towers, it was more spacious than typical frontier homes to show the occupant’s importance. After automation the dwelling collapsed. Between 1997 and 2001 it was restored and now operates as museum and interpretive centre. The quality of the craftsmanship and materials in both original work and restoration is very good. The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling was constructed by John Brown, a Scottish stonemason and building contractor.
On Chantry Island’s southern tip the Lightkeeper’s Dwelling stands next to the light tower above a rocky shore. The dwelling has changed through construction and removal of building additions, and the site has evolved from a home to a farmstead to a tourist attraction. Following restoration, the site changed but the character has been retained. The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling plays a supportive functional role to the light tower and is considered a familiar regional landmark on its own merits. Its restoration by the Marine Heritage Society and the interpretive centre and museum make it familiar within the community. The Lightkeeper’s Dwelling has been recognized as a significant heritage asset by the local Municipality of Saugeen Shores.
The following character-defining elements of the Keeper’s Dwelling at the Chantry Island Lightstation must be preserved:
- the dwelling’s location on Chantry Island, as a component of Chantry Island Lightstation;
- its traditional Scottish Cottage style;
- the solid construction of stone with rusticated exterior that matches the detailing and materials of the adjacent light tower;
- the one-and-a-half-storey rectangular massing, set under a slate-clad gable roof;
- the three-bay façade with central entrance, and the original placement, design and materials of doors and windows including the two smaller gable-end windows;
- the whitewash finish;
- the interior’s simple, functional layout, opening into a small vestibule, with interior doors to left and right, and enclosed wooden staircase leading directly upstairs to two loft bedrooms; to the right, the single large room with kitchen and living area, to the left a parlour with small bedroom behind;
- the building’s contribution to the composition of the lightstation including its visual and physical relationship to the light tower.