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Cumberland, Subdistrict C, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/09/05

Side elevation of the Tower, showing the low, square massing and profile comprised of a tapered shaft with a square wooden gallery and octagonal lantern, 1990.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1990.
General view of the Tower at Coldspring Head, showing the wood frame construction, 1990.; Canadian Coast Guard / Garde côtière canadienne, 1990.
General view
No Image

Other Name(s)

Coldspring Head Lighttower
Tour de Phare de Coldspring Head

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/07/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Tower is isolated at the outermost point on the north side of a peninsula, at Coldspring Head. It is a modest, square-tapered wooden tower with classically inspired details. The tower features a square wooden platform that supports an octagonal lantern with a low-pitched roof. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Tower is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Tower is associated with campaigns to improve the safety of maritime commerce at remote coastal locations by building navigational aids. The simplicity and economy of construction reflect the desire of the government to expediently build a large number of towers.

Architectural Value
The Tower is a very good example of a typical, early prototype of the square-tapered wooden tower. It also exhibits very good craftsmanship as evidenced in the wood frame construction and classical details. Its medium taper and solidity of form mark it as a type developed in the 1860’s and 1870’s and continued until the turn of the century.

Environmental Value
The Tower is compatible with the character of its maritime setting. As a coastal light serving the northern shore of Nova Scotia and the Northumberland Strait it is well known in its locale.

Sources: Martha Phemister and Gordon Fulton, Square Tapered Wooden Lightowers, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Informal Building Report 90-106; Tower, Coldspring Head, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 90-106.

Character-Defining Elements

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

Its square taper design, functional design and quality craftsmanship, for example:
-the low, square massing and profile comprised of a tapered shaft with a square wooden gallery and octagonal lantern;
-the wood frame construction;
-the simple forms of the classically inspired detailing at the main entrance and the bracketed frieze contrast with the fine-scaled texture of the horizontal bevel siding without corner boards;
-the pedimented projecting window heads and gallery platform;
-the lantern with metal and glass detailing;
-the multi-paned sash windows.

The manner in which the Tower is compatible with the character of its maritime setting and is a well-known landmark in the region, as evidenced by:
-its low scale and massing which complements its isolated setting surrounded by trees in the coastal environment;
-the high visibility of the tower to passing seagoing vessels.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Navigational Aid or Lighthouse

Architect / Designer

Joseph Tomlinson



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




Related Places

Corner view

Coldspring Head Lighthouse

The Coldspring Head Lighthouse is an 11-metre (35 feet) square, tapered, wooden lighthouse surmounted by a superimposed gallery and a red hexagonal lantern. Constructed in 1889,…


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