Point Clark Lighthouse
© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
Huron-Kinloss, Huron-Kinloss, Ontario
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1855 to 1859
1859 to 1859
Event, Person, Organization:
Point Clark Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada
(NHS or other designated site)
Point Clark Lighthouse
Description of Historic Place
The Point Clark Lighthouse is a slightly tapered circular tower, 26.5 metres (87 feet) tall, constructed of whitewashed limestone. It is capped by a cast-iron lantern with 12 glass sides and a cast-iron dome. Commissioned in 1859, it is one of six imperial towers built on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The lighthouse is located on a promontory that juts out from the eastern shore of Lake Huron between Sarnia and Tobermory. There are several structures on the site, including two related buildings that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1855-1859 lightkeeper’s dwelling, and (2) the ca. 1857 shed.
The Point Clark Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Point Clark Lighthouse is an excellent example of the improvements made to the navigational aid system developed for the Great Lakes. It is one of six imperial towers built in the 1850s by the pre-Confederation Department of Public Works as part of a construction campaign on the eastern shore of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Because of its strategic location marking a dangerous shoal in Lake Huron, the Point Clark Lighthouse has provided greater navigational safety for commercial and passenger traffic on the lake. Marine traffic increased after the opening of the Bruce Peninsula for settlement, the signing of a trade agreement with the United States in 1854 and the inauguration of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal in 1855.
With its elegant proportions and the ruggedness of its exterior stones, the Point Clark Lighthouse is an excellent example of the imperial towers built in the region. This architectural style is almost unique in Canada. The lighthouse also stands out for the simplicity of its rusticated stonework and for its sober detailing, including the small windows with their smooth stone sills and the round-arch doorway. The Point Clark Lighthouse is an excellent example of superior functional design providing a structure that is both resistant and stable, but is also aesthetically pleasing. The lighthouse testifies to high quality work in the details of its accessories, including its twelve-sided cast-iron lantern decorated with twelve bronze lion heads at each angle of the eaves that serve to direct rainwater away from the tower. The solid construction and exceptional masonry work show that durable, quality materials were used. Functionally, the lighthouse stands out because it has operated uninterrupted since 1859 and evidence of earlier lighting technologies can still be seen.
Located at the edge of Lake Huron and surrounded by its two related buildings, the Point Clark Lighthouse establishes the site’s maritime character. With its simple and elegant shape and its elongated silhouette, it stands out for its presence in a resort area consisting mainly of cottages. The Point Clark Lighthouse is a very well known and cherished identity symbol for the community of Huron-Kinloss. Owing to its status as a National Historic Site of Canada, the lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction in the Township of Huron-Kinloss. The lighthouse is also a familiar landmark to sailors on Lake Huron who have relied on it for over a century.
Two related buildings, as listed above, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the Point Clark Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on a promontory that juts out from the eastern shore of Lake Huron between Sarnia and Tobermory;
— its original structural form, height, profile and proportions based on the design of imperial towers;
— its slightly tapered circular whitewashed limestone tower;
— its cast-iron lantern with 12 glass panes surmounted by a cast-iron dome capped by a ball pinnacle-shaped ventilator;
— its twelve bronze lion heads at each angle of the eaves;
— its corbelling, which forms a gallery and a base for the lantern;
— its granite ring at the top, to which the lantern is secured;
— its small windows with their smooth stone sills;
— its round-arch doorway;
— its indoor wooden staircase, which curves at its base, has steep, zigzagged segments in the middle and ends with a flight of curving iron stairs;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme consisting of white for the tower and red for the door and windows, lantern and platform railing; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.
The following character-defining elements of the related buildings should be respected:
— their respective built forms, profiles and proportions;
— their traditional red and white exterior colour schemes;
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.