Lighttower; Lighthouse Shoal
Lighthouse Shoal Light Tower
Tour de phare du haut-fond Lighthouse
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Lighthouse Shoal light tower is a square tapered tower that stands 9.1m tall. It is a simple wooden structure characterized by its bracketed gallery with distinct crisscross railings, white horizontal wood cladding and tall, crowning red lantern that provides 360-degree visibility for the light. Standing on a small rocky islet in Lake Rosseau, the tower continues to guide local marine navigational traffic.
The Lighthouse Shoal light tower is a “Recognized” Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values:
Built in 1890 in response to the increase in water traffic from both commercial growth and an influx of recreational visitors and tourists to the Muskoka area, the Lighthouse Shoal light tower depicts the national theme of aids to navigation on Canada’s inland waterways. With a nominal range of 5 nautical miles, this small-scale light tower guides boats to the harbour of the village of Rosseau to the north and warns them of the rocks and shoals in its immediate vicinity. The construction of this particular light tower expressed the growing importance of the community as a recreational destination, as well as its role as a practical aid to shipping and passenger traffic. As such, it represents the shift from the forest industry to recreational navigation and tourism as the basis of the regional economy.
Built following a standard design of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, the structure is a typical example of the basic square tapered wooden light towers created in the late 19th century. Stylistically, it is an adaptation of the regular or straight cornice subtype, distinguished by the gallery which projects from the tower's continuous sloping sides and rests upon a bracketed frieze below. Although the heavy crisscross style of the gallery’s railing and the atypical proportions of the base and lantern set it apart, the light tower’s traditional detailing reiterates the tripartite composition of the classical column. The light tower was built to be simple and functional with economy in mind, providing a utilitarian interior to accommodate storage a window to allow natural light and a series of simple ladders and trap doors to give access to the lantern. Carefully crafted and detailed using standard building technology and good quality, utilitarian materials that were readily available, the tower has withstood the test of time.
The Lighthouse Shoal light tower sits on a small, barely visible, rocky islet at the north end of Lake Rosseau. From a distance, the tower appears to rise directly out of the lake. Although a possible rise in water level may have changed the historical relationship between the tower and its islet, its character has been retained. With its distinctive silhouette and traditional colour scheme, the light tower is compatible with its recreational marine setting that is characterized by a sparse line of cottages and the predominance of the thick forest that can be seen in the distance, skirting the water’s edge. The light tower is a familiar landmark to the local community of Rosseau as well as to all those who travel the waters of the lake, extending its influence to the regional level. As such, the light tower is an important tourist attraction and a favourite subject of many artists; it embodies the region’s cultural life.
The following character-defining elements of the Lighthouse Shoal light tower should be respected:
— Its small scale and simple form, based on the standard design of a square, tapered wooden tower;
— The atypical, taller proportions of its tapered base and square lantern;
— Its traditional detailing which reiterates the classical tripartite composition of the base, tapered shaft and crowning lantern;
— The simple wooden brackets which support the square, projecting gallery above;
— The heavy crisscross pattern of the gallery railing;
— Its traditional colour scheme consisting of a painted white foundation, tower and trim, gallery and railings, accented by a red lantern, hip roof, and matching ventilator;
— The lone window (now blocked in) positioned immediately above the single, raised entry door, both of which extend vertically from the tower’s tapered wall and are crowned by plain pediments;
— Its four unobstructed lantern windows, providing 360-degree visibility for the light.
— The typical and basic materials for a lighthouse of this era, which includes concrete and wood;
— Its sturdy timber frame design and construction;
— Its simple and utilitarian interior layout.
— Its visual predominance as a stand-alone vertical structure rising from the horizontal landscape.
Government of Canada
Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Navigational Aid or Lighthouse
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate, Documentation Centre, 3rd Floor, Room 366, 30 Victoria St, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection