Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Department of Transport / Ministère des Transports, 1989.
Burlington Canal, Hamilton, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1858 to 1858
Event, Person, Organization:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Lighthouse is a circular, tapered, limestone tower approximately 16.7m (55 feet) high that is topped by an iron lantern. Its exterior consists of squared, even-coursed sturdy stonework pierced by a round-arched doorway. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Lighthouse is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Lighthouse illustrates the importance of the port to the economic life of Hamilton in the 19th century. The construction of the Burlington Canal was an event of great importance in the development of Hamilton as a lake port and as the major business centre at the west end of Lake Ontario. Through its safe harbour, the town and its hinterland became part of the Great Lakes shipping system. The lighting of the canal contributed to the safety of access to this port.
The Lighthouse is a very good example of the stove towers built on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in the 1850s. It has a sturdy construction with simple form, proportion and material. The Lighthouse has a very good functional design and exhibits excellent workmanship that can be seen in the high quality stonework.
The Lighthouse is familiar to those frequenting the area around the Burlington Canal entrance and to people driving along the highway.
Sources: Lighthouse, Burlington Canal, Hamilton, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report, 88-094; Margaret Coleman, Lighthouse, Lightkeeper’s Residence and Front Range Tower (3 Buildings) Burlington Canal, Hamilton, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 88-094.
The character-defining elements of the Lighthouse should be respected.
Its functional lighthouse design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example; the building’s form and cylindrical massing which consists of a symmetrical, stone structure topped by a metal lantern; the circular, exterior walls of squared, evenly coursed, sturdy stonework; the structure’s clean lines and picturesque silhouette ; the decorative round arch with a blind transom over the doorway; the interior staircase that leads to the lantern.
The manner in which the Lighthouse is a landmark to those in the immediate area, as evidenced by: its visibility to people passing down the beach strip and those driving past on the freeway.
Heritage Character Statement
The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.
The lighthouse at the Burlington Canal, a limestone tower about 55' high with a diameter at its base of about 20' was built in 1858 by John Brown, a well-known and respected stonemason. The original lantern and lighting apparatus was replaced in 1891 by "new ones of modern pattern." The original lantern is now stored at the Joseph Brant Museum in Burlington. Historical photographs of the tower suggest that there has been little change to the structure. The site has been considerably altered. The lighthouse once a dominant feature in the canal area, has since been dwarfed by the highway and railway construction which has taken place around it. The lighthouse, however, has been designated by the Hamilton LACAC.
The lighthouse which was removed from service in 1961, is the property of Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard. See Building Report 88-94.
Reason for Designation
The lighthouse at the Burlington Canal was designated Recognized for its historical associations and its architectural significance.
The lighthouse recalls the importance of the port to the economic life of Hamilton in the 19th century. The construction of the Burlington Canal was an event of great importance in the development of Hamilton as a lake port and as the major business centre at the west end of Lake Ontario. Through its safe harbour, the town and its hinterland became part of the Great Lakes shipping system. The lighting of the canal contributed to the safety of access to this port. The lighthouse and the keeper's dwelling nearby are the oldest surviving structures on the beach strip and they have witnessed great changes on the beach since their construction.
The building's architectural significance derives primarily from the sturdy and workmanlike quality of the masonry construction.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the lighthouse resides primarily in the simple form, proportions and material employed during its construction.
The circular, tapered, limestone structure, its exterior squared even coursed sturdy stonework with the decorative touch of a round arch with a blind transom over the doorway, and its interior squared but unevenly coursed masonry with the circular staircase which leads to the lantern should be preserved in future improvements.
The excellence of the original workmanship on the lighthouse is demonstrated by the fact that after over 130 years it is in remarkably good shape. Adherence to a regular maintenance program would certainly contribute to the longevity of the building. Minor work such as repointing the masonry, repairing the windows and stairs, and repainting the lantern is critical to the long-term survival of this heritage structure.