Lighthouse and Dwelling
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Gereaux Island, Ontario
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1981.
Lightstation, Gereaux Island, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1880 to 1880
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Marine and Fisheries
Gereaux Island Lightstation
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Lighthouse and Dwelling are located on the small Gereaux Island near Byng inlet on the northeastern shore of Georgian Bay. An octagonal lantern surmounts the small, square, tapered tower, and a gable-roofed dwelling is attached to one side. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Lighthouse and Dwelling is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Lighthouse and Dwelling is associated with the provision of navigational aids on inland waters during the post-Confederation era. It was intended to meet the needs of regional commercial shipping.
The Lighthouse and Dwelling is one of a small number of square-tapered wooden towers with attached residences surviving from the 19th century. It was designed for remote locations and was intended to house the keeper and his family. The sturdy design uses a classical form with heavy timber and braced wood frame construction. The lighttower exhibits good materials and craftsmanship.
The Lighthouse and Dwelling reinforces the character of the picturesque maritime setting on Gereaux Island. The structure is familiar to the shipping community.
Sources: Martha Phemister and Gordon Fulton, Informal Building Reports, Square Tapered Wooden Lighttowers, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 90-190; Gereaux Island Lighttower and Dwelling, Gereaux Island, Lake Huron, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 90-190.
The character-defining elements of the Lighthouse and Dwelling should be respected.
Its functional design with classical influences, high quality materials and construction, for example: the three-storey, square, tapered form of the tower with its classical tripartite division into base, tapered tower and capital, surmounted by an octagonal lantern; the attached gable-roofed dwelling that is well integrated with the tower; the regular spacing and vertical alignment of the tower’s window openings and the door pediment; the heavy timber and braced wood construction.
The manner in which the Lighthouse and Dwelling is compatible with the character of the present picturesque, maritime setting of Gereaux Island and is a local landmark, as evidenced by: the picturesque qualities of its design and form that complement the natural environment; its visual familiarity, given its dramatic position, as a landmark to mariners on the north eastern shore of Georgian Bay.
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 Gereaux Island Lighthouse and Dwelling were built in 1880 to designs by the Department of Marine and Fisheries, under Chief Lighthouse Engineer Joseph Tomlinson. The structure consists of a tower with an attached lightkeeper's residence. The light is no longer operational, but the tower acts as a daymark. The Canadian Coast Guard is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 90-190.
Reasons for Designation
The Gereaux Island Lighttower with attached dwelling was designated Recognized as a result of its environmental qualities; its association with the provision of navigational aids on inland waters; and for architectural reasons.
The tower, located on an island along the north-east shore of Georgian Bay, replaces an earlier one constructed by local lumber interests. Built during the post-Confederation expansion of navigational aids, it was intended to meet the needs of regional commercial shipping.
The Gereaux Island Lighttower is one of a small number of square wooden towers with attached residences surviving intact from the nineteenth century. This form of lighthouse was designed for locations remote from settlement, and was intended to house the keeper and his family in reasonable comfort. Heavy timber and braced wood frame construction was employed, since it was sturdy, economical and easy to maintain. The tower exhibits the classical form favoured by nineteenth-century lighthouse designers.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of this structure is defined by its overall massing, classical references and use of materials, and importance in its setting.
The three-storey square tapered tower, surmounted by an octagonal lantern, exhibits the classical tripartite division into base (stone foundation), tapered tower, and capital (lantern platform). The attached gable-roofed dwelling is well integrated with the tower. This unified complex of tower and dwelling should be preserved, as should the overall form and profile.
The regular spacing and vertical alignment of the tower's window openings is associated with the formal character of classical design and should be retained. Windows are currently boarded over, and should be uncovered and repaired as circumstances permit. The exterior has been covered in metal cladding; its
removal would benefit the heritage character.
Some of the original decorative elaboration, such as the classical cornice, has been lost, but the door pediment is retained. All early exterior and interior finishes and fittings should be identified and preserved. Returning the structure to its early appearance based on physical and pictorial evidence would do much to restore the heritage character of this building.
Maintenance work is essential to ensure the structure's longevity. Vegetation should be kept clear of the structure and sheathing, and paint finishes maintained.
The light station is located on Gereaux Island, a small rocky island near Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay. Ancillary structures associated with its operation surround the lighthouse. Some of these are original, but others, such as the tall steel beacon and helicopter pad, are new. The rugged isolated character of the site should be preserved.