Description of Historic Place
The McInnes Island Lighthouse is a white rectangular multiuse concrete building 8.5 metres high (28 feet) with the lighttower built into one corner. Located on Milbanke Sound, the lighthouse is a major coastal light that guides traffic headed to the aluminum smelter at Kitimat. Built in 1954, it is the second lighthouse built at this location.
There are six related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1956 junior dwelling, (2) the 2004 engine room, (3) the 1975 winch house, (4) the 1987 senior dwelling, (5) the 1921 engine building, and (6) the 1990 storage shed.
The McInnes Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The McInnes Island lightstation is a very good example of the expansion of the system of aids to navigation along the coast of British Columbia. The lightstation captures the evolving history of navigational aids. It was first established as an automated light in 1921 and afterwards, became a staffed lightstation in 1954 with the construction of the new lighthouse and related buildings to support the new community of Kitimat.
The current McInnes Island Lighthouse supported the socio-economic development of the region as a result of the construction of the aluminum smelter at Kitimat, which was one of the biggest economic development projects in British Columbia in the twentieth century. It helped guide the high volume of marine traffic along the Inside Passage and to the channels leading to Kitimat. The lighthouse was one of many built in order to make maritime navigation safer and to promote shipping and commercial activities along the coast of British Columbia.
The design of the McInnes Island Lighthouse is well suited to the constant exposure of the full force of the Pacific Ocean. Despite the extreme weather conditions that sometimes prevail on McInnes Island, the rectangular structure continues to hold up the lantern house, a tribute to the high quality of its craftsmanship and materials.
The McInnes Island Lighthouse sits atop rocky cliffs on a small island on the Pacific ocean. Its presence as the only built structure within several kilometres in any direction reinforces the maritime character of the area. The cluster of buildings painted in traditional red and white colours is highly visible from the sea and air.
The McInnes Island Lighthouse has been highly valued by those who transit the area by sea or air. Besides its navigational services, the lightstation has provided weather reports for marine and airborne traffic, and participates in search and rescue operations.
Six related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the McInnes Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its intact structural form, height, and profile;
— its tower built into the corner of a rectangular building;
— its octagonal lantern with a peaked roof and mushroom cap vent;
— its square gallery surrounded by a simple metal railing;
— its single entry door with pedimented roof;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme, that is red for the lantern, roof and doors and white for the walls and window trim; 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;
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.