Bear River Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Digby, Nova Scotia
Corner view of Bear River Lighthouse showing various key elements from the square, tapered, wooden towers, 2011. (© Kraig Anderson -
Corner view
(© Kraig Anderson -
Address : Evangeline Trail, Bear River, Digby, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2015-02-15
  • 1905 to 1905 (Construction)

Other Name(s):
  • Bear River Lighthouse  (Designation Name)

Description of Historic Place

The Bear River Lighthouse is a wooden square-tapered tower that measures 9.8 metres (32 feet). Located in a wooded area on the western shore of the mouth of Bear River, the lighthouse marks the entrance to Bear River from the Annapolis Basin. Built in 1905, it is the first lighthouse on the site.

Heritage Value

The Bear River Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical and community values.

Historical values
The Bear River Lighthouse is a very good example of the Canadian government’s efforts to improve and maintain coastal lighthouses. As a secondary coastal light marking the entrance to Bear River from the Annapolis Basin, the lighthouse warns vessels of the rocky shoals near the channel leading into the river.
The Bear River Lighthouse supported the development of the scallop fishing and lumber industries, which were significant economic activities of the town of Digby nearby. Tourism was also an important industry in the village of Bear River, which was renowned for its artistic community and its high-tide changes twice daily. The lighthouse guided mariners navigating the river’s rocky shoals.

Community values
The Bear River Lighthouse reinforces the maritime character of the area due to its visibility from the water. The lighthouse sits in a rugged, densely forested coastal environment.
Due to its proximity to the world-renowned Bay of Fundy, the Bear River Lighthouse is highly valued in the small coastal community of Digby. The lighthouse contributes to the town’s growing tourism industry.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Bear River Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location in a wooded area on the western shore of the mouth of Bear River;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and balanced proportions, based on the standard design of square, tapered, wooden towers;
— its square, wooden structure of timber frame construction with tapered sides rising from a square base;
— its superimposed square, wooden gallery, supported by the coved cornice that transitions from the tapered walls;
— its plain metal railing that surrounds the gallery;
— its square lantern room with its pyramidal roof and cylindrical metal ventilator;
— its sole entry door, raised above the foundation, that projects from the plane of the south façade and is surmounted by a plain pediment;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme consisting of white for the tower, gallery, and lantern, accented by red features such as the gallery railing, roof ventilator and the foundation;
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.