Description of Historic Place
The Egg Island Lighthouse is a tall, square tapered, steel frame skeleton tower. Located on an isolated, rocky island of the same name just beyond the northern tip of Vancouver Island, the tower lights a precarious area of open Pacific Ocean near the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound.
There are seven related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1966 two-bedroom junior dwelling, (2) the 1988 three-bedroom senior dwelling, (3) the 1960 spare dwelling, (4) the 1986 tractor shed, (5) the 1978 engine/radio/workshop room, (6) the 1979 fog horn building, and (7) the weather building.
The Egg Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Egg Island lightstation was established in 1898 during the rapid expansion of British Columbia’s lighthouse system along the Northern Coastal Route and the Inside Passage. In 1948, a storm destroyed the entire lightstation, and an emergency light was put up. The current tower was erected in 1962, and is a typical example of the movement to replace outdated structures with modern lights. The lighthouse’s keepers are associated with a number of dangerous events related to their isolated environment. The 1948 storm that destroyed the lightstation saw the keeper and his family survive for eight days without provisions before help arrived. In a separate incident, two relief keepers were presumed drowned in 1934 after it was discovered that Egg Island’s light was out.
The Egg Island lightstation is associated with the socio-economic development of the Inside Passage, a route for marine traffic from Washington to Alaska. The increase in commerce and industry along this route such as the development of canneries, lumber camps and mines, along with the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, necessitated the need for a well-lit waterway. Today, the light serves passing ferries, shipping vessels and recreational boaters.
The Egg Island Lighthouse is an open, unpainted, square, steel frame skeleton tower with criss-crossing steel rods tapering up toward the light. It is a typical example of a steel skeleton tower, constructed to emphasize functionality, with little or no decorative elements. It is one of the tallest among the remaining six staffed skeleton towers along British Columbia’s coast. Throughout the 20th century, galvanized steel frame skeleton towers were considered ideal for seaside locations which experienced frequent severe weather. Such towers are inexpensive, can be more easily transported, and can be prefabricated and assembled on site. The lighthouse design, with its strength, flexibility, and little maintenance need is well suited to its rugged and isolated location.
The Egg Island Lighthouse sits on an island which, from a certain distance, is said to resemble a hen’s egg on the horizon. Surrounded by the rugged Pacific Northwest forests and mountains, it has a rocky seafront, where the sea is rarely at rest. Due to the Egg Island Lighthouse’s remoteness, it is not closely associated with a particular geographic community. It is well-known to passing mariners, who depend on the light to guide them through the rocky shoals which extend far out into the ocean.
Seven related buildings, as listed in section 1 contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the Egg Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and proportions;
— its steel structure fabricated of sectional components, criss-crossing upwards towards the light;
— its uppermost square platform on which rests a lighting apparatus;
— its gallery railing, including its respective designed form and proportions; and,
— its visual prominence in relationship to the water and landscape.
The following character-defining elements of the related buildings should be respected:
— their respective built forms, profiles, and proportions;
— their traditional red and white exterior colour schemes;
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.