Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada, British Columbia
(© Transport Canada, 1990)
Pachena Point Lightstation, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada, British Columbia
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1907 to 1908
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Marine and Fisheries
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Lighttower at Pachena Point stands sentinel on the treacherous coastline of Vancouver Island 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. The Lighttower is a plain octagonal, tapered, wooden structure surmounted by an iron lantern. The entrance is a simple, wooden door at the base. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Lighttower at Pachena Point is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Lighttower at Pachena Point is an example of the expansion of the navigational system along the British Columbia coast. It was one of a series built along the treacherous western coastline of Vancouver Island in an attempt to reduce the frequency of shipwrecks. In particular, it was built in response to the 1906 sinking of an American passenger ship that generated inquiries on both sides of the border.
The Lighttower at Pachena Point is a good example of an octagonal wooden lighthouse with a well-scaled symmetrical design and simply detailed construction. It is based on a nineteenth century standard design employed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries. While lacking the classical detailing often found on these structures, it does exhibit the tripartite division of the tower that is characteristic of the design. It is the sole remaining wooden example on the west coast.
The Lighttower at Pachena Point reinforces the dramatic coastal setting and also retains its relationship with the contemporary Duplex Dwelling. The Lighttower is still operational and well known to the shipping community. Although relatively inaccessible, the lighttower is located near the West Coast Trail and attracts several thousand hikers each summer. It is a regional landmark.
Gordon Fulton, Lighttower and Duplex Dwelling, Pachena Point, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 90-065; Lighttower, Pachena Point, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 90-065.
The character-defining elements of The Lighttower at Pachena Point should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the provision of aid to navigation along the British Columbia coast.
Its standard design and good quality materials and craftsmanship such as: the building’s form and massing, consisting of an octagonal, tapered shingle covered shaft with slightly flared platform surmounted by an iron lantern; the building’s clean lines and picturesque silhouette; the classically inspired tripartite division of the tower and the stone-clad concrete base; the original wood frame construction and cedar shingle cladding; the simple treatment of doors and windows.
The manner in which the building reinforces the picturesque, maritime setting of Pachena Point, with its associated seascape and dramatic setting as evidenced in: the unchanged historical relationship of the structure to the site and the Duplex Dwelling.
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 Pachena Point Lighttower was built in 1907-08 to designs by the Department of Marine and Fisheries, in an expansion of the navigation system along the British Columbia coast. The structure continues to serve its original function. Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, is the custodian department. See FHBRO Building Report 90-65.
Reasons for Designation
The Pachena Point Lighttower was designated Recognized as a result of its landmark qualities, its association with the provision of coastal navigational aids, and its functional design.
The Lighttower at Pachena Point was one of a series built along the treacherous western coastline of Vancouver Island in an attempt to reduce the frequency of shipwrecks. In particular, it was built in response to the 1906 sinking of an American passenger ship which generated inquires on both sides of the border. The Lighttower continues to serve deep sea and coastal traffic.
The Lighttower is based on a nineteenth-century standard design for octagonal wooden lighthouses widely employed by the Department of Marine and Fisheries. While lacking the classical detailing often found on these structures, it does exhibit the tripartite division of the tower characteristic of the design. It is the sole remaining wooden example on the west coast.
The Lighttower is located high above the Pacific Ocean on an open site surrounded by rain forest. Although relatively inaccessible, the Lighttower is located near the West Coast Trail and attracts several thousand hikers each summer. It is a regional landmark.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Pachena Point Lighttower resides in its profile, functional design and materials, and site relationships.
The classically-inspired tripartite division of the tower, while less explicit than in other examples, can be seen in the stone-clad concrete base, tapered shingle-covered shaft, and slightly flared lantern platform. The simple treatment of the door and windows reflects the functional emphasis associated with constructing the tower on a difficult site. This profile is an essential element of the design and must be preserved.
The Pachena Point Lighttower has been well maintained, and is essentially unchanged. It retains its original wood-frame construction, cedar-shingle cladding, and iron lantern topped by a weathervane. Any required repair or replacement should be in kind. It also retains its original light, which was considered state-of-the-art design when it was installed. It should be carefully maintained, as should any early interior fittings and finishes.
The Lighttower is surrounded by secondary structures associated with the operation of the light station. Among these is the duplex residence built at the same time as the lighttower to accommodate staff. This historic relationship should be maintained.