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Chantry Island, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/11/14

Historical image of the Chantry Island Lighthouse, ca. 1880.; Weeks-Mifflin, n.d.
Historic image
Panoramic view of the Chantry Island Lighthouse in its picturesque coastal setting which reinforces the region’s scenic and maritime character and is a symbol for the region, 1990.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1990.
Aerial view of the Chantry Island Lighthouse showing its tall, round, slightly tapered form corbelled at the top to form a gallery and base for the lantern, 1990.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1990.
Aerial view

Other Name(s)

Tour de phare
Chantry Island Lighthouse
Phare de l'île Chantry

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1855/01/01 to 1859/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located on a picturesque coastal site, the Tower, located at Chantry Island, is tall, stone structure, round with a slight taper and slightly corbelled outward at the top to form a gallery and base for the 12 sided polygonal lantern. There is very little detailing, which emphasizes the rugged quality of its stone construction. There are small, narrow window openings staggered around the tower and the doorway is rounded at the top. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Tower is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values

Historical Value
The Tower constructed as on of the so-called ‘Imperial Towers’ is a very good example illustrating the installation of lighthouses on the Great Lakes beginning in 1804. The opening of the Bruce Peninsula for settlement in the mid-1850’s, a free-trade agreement with the United Stated in 1854, and the Sault. Ste. Marie Canal in 1855 prompted the need for navigational aids and the establishment of these towers. The tower is associated with William McGregor Lambert, the son of the first lightkeeper, who was recognized by the Canadian Government in 1892 for his lifesaving efforts and presented with the Imperial Service Medal in 1907. Lambert developed Chantry Island as a visitor showplace with one of the first marine museums on the Great Lakes.

Architectural Value
This tower counts among the few constructed of stone and is an excellent example of functional design of a strong and stable structure that is aesthetically pleasing. It employs materials and craftsmanship of the highest standard, and is a very good example of the work of the contractor John Brown. The tower is characterized by its elegant proportions and its simple rusticated design.

Environmental Value
As a tall, elegant structure on a picturesque coastal site, the Tower reinforces the region’s scenic quality and maritime character. It serves as a popular destination for recreational and some commercial traffic on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, which is attributed to the magnificent scenery of the area’s waters that are dotted by many islands. The Tower is a symbol of the region and has appeared on Southampton municipalities’ letterhead, was the subject of an award-winning book published in 1986 and is of interest to many groups and organizations.

Joan Mattie, Four ‘Imperial Towers’: lighthouses at Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 90-213; Chantry Island Tower, Lake Huron, Chantry Island, Ontario Heritage Character Statement 90-213.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Tower should be respected.

Its highest quality functional design and aesthetic, materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
-its tall, round, slightly tapered form corbelled at the top to form a gallery and base for the lantern;
-its twelve-sided polygonal lantern, which provides an important component of the structure and includes three rows of rectangular glass panes, segmentally ridged domed roofs topped by ventilators in the shape of ball pinnacles, and twelve bronze lion’s heads at each angle of the eaves line;
-its structural system employing heavy timber to provide lateral stability with inner and outer whites of cut masonry with rubble infill providing compressive strength;
-its masonry detailing;
-its whitewash finish;
-its round-headed doorway and small, narrow windows with plain stone sills staggered around the tower;
-its interior components of wooden stairwell, curved cast-iron-and-wood stairs and straight and steep stairs.

The manner in which the Tower at Chantry Island in its picturesque coastal setting reinforces the region’s scenic and maritime character and is a symbol for the region.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type


Navigational Aid or Lighthouse


Architect / Designer

John Brown



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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