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Lamb Island Lighthouse

Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2015/05/29

General view of Lamb Island Lighthouse showing the access to the complex.; Jim Bailey
General view
Detail of Lamb Island Lighthouse, a four-sided, five-sectioned tapered steel tower rising to a height of 13.6 metres (45 feet).; Jim Bailey
Detail of the lighttower
General view showing the seven related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of Lamb Island Lighthouse.; Jim Bailey
General view

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1961/01/01 to 1961/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2016/09/27

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Lamb Island Lighthouse is a four-sided, five-sectioned tapered steel tower rising to a height of 13.6 metres (45 feet). Built in 1961, it is the second lighthouse on the site. The lighthouse serves a dual purpose as a marker for the west side of the channel to Nipigon Bay, and as one of the coastal lights leading vessels to Thunder Bay, located some 90 km southwest. Lamb Island sits off the north coast of Lake Superior and the Lamb Island Lighthouse can be seen from a distance of about 15 nautical miles.
There are seven related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1961 Keeper’s Dwelling, (2) the 1952 Assistant Keeper’s Dwelling, (3) the 1960 Generator Building, (4) the Pump House, (5) the 1928 Fog Plant, (6) the 1912 Boathouse, and (7) the 1960 Survival Building.

Heritage Value

The Lamb Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.

Historical values
The Lamb Island Lighthouse is a very good illustration of the settlement of Lake Superior and Western Canada. The late 19th century saw a number of lighthouses being constructed along the shores of the newly settled lake and, in 1877, the lighthouse on Lamb Island was among the first to be built. These lighthouses were constructed to support the growing marine traffic on Lake Superior caused by the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway, as well as ships on Lake Superior, ferried supplies and immigrants to the newly opened Western Canada.
The Lamb Island Lighthouse played an important role as a coastal light for the large vessels going in and out of Thunder Bay (called Port Arthur until 1970). The lighthouse has had a more direct impact on the local commercial fisheries and other regional operators. Until the light was de-staffed in 1990, the lighthouse’s staff was on hand to provide assistance to any mariners in distress.

Architectural values
The steel skeleton design of the Lamb Island Lighthouse is very well suited to the remote and windswept Lamb Island. Steel is a readily available, inexpensive, strong, and durable material. The tower’s components were easy to transport to the remote site and were assembled with a minimum of expertise.

Community values
The Lamb Island Lighthouse and its outbuildings are highly visible from land and from water and they both reinforce the dramatic maritime setting of the area. It is located on a small isolated island on the north shore of Lake Superior. The island is set among the rugged forests of Northern Ontario and is surrounded by the rocky Canadian Shield.
The Lamb Island Lighthouse is highly valued by the residents of Thunder Bay and of the wider Lake Superior region. The lighthouse serves as a strong reminder of the area’s economic and maritime history. For many, memories of the lighthouse have been passed down from family members who worked at the lightstation or who, as fishermen, depended on the light for guidance.

Related buildings
Seven related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Lamb Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its prominent location as both a coastal and a harbour light on Lamb Island, in Lake Superior;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and balanced proportions;
— its four-sided, five-sectioned tapered steel tower;
— its uppermost square platform on which rests a lighting apparatus;
— its gallery railing, including its respective form and proportions;
— its encircled metal ladder;
— its traditional colour scheme, consisting of red for the bottom two sections, and white for the top three sections; and,
— its visual prominence in relation 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; and,
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act

Recognition Type

Heritage Lighthouse

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type



Navigational Aid or Lighthouse

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Quebec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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