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Southeast Shoal Dwelling

Point Pelee, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/01/04

Aerial view of the Dwelling showing the Radio room on the roof, the parapet and the lantern over which is an offset helicopter-landing pad, 1988.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1988.
Aerial view
General view of the Southeast Shoal Dwelling, 1939.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1939
General view
Aerial view of the Dwelling, 1988.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1988.
General view

Other Name(s)

Combined Lighthouse, Lightkeeper's Residence and Boathouse; Southeast Shoal
Phare, résidence du gardien et hangar à bateaux combinés; Southeast Shoal
Southeast Shoal Dwelling

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The wave-swept Dwelling, also known as the Southeast Shoal Lighthouse, on Lake Erie is located six miles offshore from Point Pelee amongst sandbars and near the mouth of the Detroit River. The square, concrete structure stands in 20 feet (6.10 meters) of water on a pyramid-shaped base that slopes down to the sandy sea floor at a 45-degree angle. Large, quarried boulders are visible in the water around the base of the structure. The sturdy tower has a flared platform that supports a walkway. A helicopter-landing pad sits above and to one side of the lantern and parapet. The structure is painted white, with the lantern and accents in red. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

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

Historical Value:
The Dwelling is associated with navigational aids on the Great Lakes. Located at the west end of Lake Erie at a strategic location, it is crucial to marine traffic passing to and from the Upper Lakes of Superior, Michigan, and Huron. Like the opening of the Welland Canal, the lightstation was integral to improvements being made in the 20th century to the Great Lakes trade route. In July 1950, an explosion and fire during a refuelling operation killed the keeper W.M. Moore and a Coast Guard employee. W.M. Moore had been the keeper since the lightstation’s opening in 1927.

Architectural Value:
The Dwelling is one of the earliest examples of a ‘wave-swept’ lighthouse whose character resides primarily in the excellence of its function-driven design. Notable for its caisson-type foundation on timber piles, it is a compact lightstation that combines the functions of lighttower, upper level dwelling, and lower level boathouse, fog alarm and fuel stores. The hostile environment required a high level of scientific and technical innovation. Excellent functional design is evidenced in the 45-degree angle to the vertical of the substructure, which, along with the placement of the structure at a diagonal to the prevailing winds, minimized wave and ice pressure. Excellent craftsmanship is evidenced in the concrete work.

Environmental Value:
The Dwelling maintains an unchanged relationship to its site and reinforces the maritime character of the Southeast Shoal. The Lighthouse is well known to the shipping community and is a conspicuous regional landmark.

Sources: Joan Mattie, Combined Lighthouse, Lightkeeper’s Dwelling, Boathouse Southeast Shoal Lightstation, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 88-108; Southeast Shoal Lightstation, Lake Erie, Point Pelee, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 88-108.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Dwelling should be respected.

Its excellent functional design and craftsmanship, for example:
-the building’s form and geometric massing consisting of a square structure on a pyramidal base that slopes down to the sea floor at a 45-degree angle;
-the cast concrete construction;
-the square tower’s flared platform supporting a walkway surrounded by a metal railing;
-the Radio room on the roof, the parapet and the lantern over which is an offset helicopter-landing pad;
-the placement of windows and doors;
-the interior stairways, configuration and fittings;
-the white painted exterior with red accents.

The manner in which the Dwelling maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the maritime setting on Southeast Shoal, and is a prominent landmark as evidenced by:
-its unchanged relationship to its site in open water on a submerged sandy shoal;
-the structure’s form and materials, which complement its dramatic maritime setting on Lake Erie;
-the Lighthouse’s high visibility and specialized role which make it a familiar regional landmark to the commercial shipping community and to visitors looking from the mainland shore of Point Pelee 9.6 kilometres (six miles) to the northeast.




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

Mr. Longtin, Department of Marine and Fisheries



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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