Lighttower; Byng Inlet Front Range

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Parry Sound, Ontario
Aerial view of Byng Inlet Front Range Light Tower (© Canadian Coast Guard | Garde côtière canadienne)
Aerial view
(© Canadian Coast Guard | Garde côtière canadienne)
Address : Byng Inlet, Parry Sound, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 2008-02-07
  • 1890 to 1890 (Construction)

Other Name(s):
  • Byng Inlet Front Range Light Tower  (Other Name)
Custodian: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 07-044
DFRP Number: 11508 00

Description of Historic Place

The Byng Inlet Front Range Light Tower is an attractive, 10.5 m high, square tapered wooden tower, stylistically characterized by its superimposed gallery and support brackets. Its square wooden lantern surmounts the tower’s tapered walls, creating a balanced, proportionate composition. Painted almost entirely white, the building features a distinctive orange day mark, which faces the shipping channel of the Magnetawan River. Set on a fieldstone foundation, the tower stands on a flat expanse of bare rock on the south shore of Byng Inlet, at the easterly edge of Georgian Bay.

Heritage Value

The Byng Inlet Front Range Light Tower is a “Recognized” Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical value
The Byng Inlet Front Range Light Tower illustrates the theme of aids to navigation on the Great Lakes. It was constructed in response to significant increases in maritime traffic created by the growth of the timber industry along the Magnetawan River in the late 19th century. Built in 1890, it is associated with the early development of lumber mills at Byng Inlet and Britt, and thereby represents the initial phase of prosperity for these communities as a result of an expanding lumber trade. Designed to form a functional pair with the original rear range tower, the light – with its nominal visibility of 11 nautical miles - continues to guide commercial and recreational mariners through the river’s navigable channel.

Architectural value
Aesthetically, the building is a well-proportioned example of the iconic, square tapered wooden light tower. Characteristic of its subtype, the gallery is superimposed upon the tower’s outer walls and supported by brackets below. Its picturesque qualities, the visual continuity of walls’ tapered profile and the harmonious proportions of the lantern contribute to the tower’s overall appeal. Built according to standard plans of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, the building’s design is a simple, effective response to the basic functional requirements of a range light. The tapered structure assures a stable support for the lantern and provides ample internal space for storage. Set directly on the Laurentian bedrock, the light tower was constructed using standard building technology with simple, readily available materials that have endured well despite harsh climatic conditions.

Environmental value
Located on the south shore of Byng Inlet within the municipality of Parry Sound, the light tower rises prominently from a flat expanse of bare rock, metres from the water’s edge. Skirted by small shrubs and sparse conifers, it is the only man-made structure in the area save the nearby rear range tower. Its presence, compatible with the nautical character of its setting, is in equilibrium with the predominantly wild Laurentian environment. With the exception of natural growth, this relationship between the tower and its surrounding has remained completely unchanged over time. Given its strong presence and its nature as a navigational aid, the light tower is familiar to the commercial and recreational boaters who circulate within this area of Georgian Bay. It is a valued local landmark, recognized as a symbol of the area’s marine heritage and as an integral feature of the current recreation and tourism economy.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Byng Inlet Front Range Light Tower should be respected:

— Its well-proportioned shape, based on a standard design of the square, tapered wooden light tower;
— The substantial gallery, with its simple, transparent railing affording legibility of the walls’ tapered lines;
— The harmonious proportions of the square wooden lantern;
— The main entry door and 2nd storey triple-paned window which extend vertically from the sloped wall face and are crowned with simple ornamental pediments;
— The vertical emphasis of the narrow openings and orange daymark which extends from the tower’s base to the top of the lantern’s pyramidal roof;
— Its efficient, utilitarian interior with straight wooden ladders providing access between levels;
— Its simple, readily available and durable materials – fieldstone and wood; and
— Its prominent location, strong solitary presence and equilibrium within the surrounding, wild Laurentian environment of Georgian Bay.