Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse
© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada, J. MacLeod
Bois Blanc Island, Amherstburg, Ontario
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1836 to 1836
1837 to 1837
Event, Person, Organization:
Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse and Blockhouse National Historic Site of Canada
(NHS or other designated site)
Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse
Description of Historic Place
The Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse is a white circular tapered stone lighthouse built in 1836. The tower is just over 12 metres (39 feet) tall without its lantern, which was removed in the 1970s. The lighthouse is located on the southern tip of Bois Blanc Island at the juncture of the Detroit River and Lake Erie.
The Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse is an excellent illustration of the development of a system of navigational aids for maritime traffic on the Great Lakes in the 1830s. It is the third lighthouse to be built on Lake Erie. During the steamship era, in particular, the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse supported increased shipping activity on the Great Lakes.
The Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse is associated with the 1838 Rebellion. On 8 January 1838, a small group of American Patriots landed the schooner Anne on the island and forced the small military guard stationed there to evacuate along with the light keeper and his family. After the rebellion, the area’s fortification plans included the construction of three blockhouses on Bois Blanc Island. The lighthouse is also closely tied to the Hackett family, who served as the keepers of the lighthouse for three generations.
The Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse is solidly built of limestone, a rarity at the time. In the 19th century, while stone was the favoured building material due to its fire-resistant qualities, it was also far more costly than wood. The lighthouse’s good condition is a testament to its sound construction, and it has aged remarkably well.
Although the site of the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse is not very accessible to the public, the lighthouse is highly valued by the community as an integral part of the local heritage. Due to limited access from the mainland, most of the visitors to the site are recreational boaters visiting the nearby beach, where a trail leads to the lighthouse and nearby blockhouse.
No related buildings are included in the designation.
The following character-defining elements of the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location at the southern tip of Bois Blanc Island, on the Detroit River;
— its relationship to the blockhouse located 100 metres north of the lighthouse;
— its round tapered tower with a rubblestone core covered in rusticated limestone, and capped by a cornice of stepped corbelling that formed a base for the gallery and lantern;
— its distinctive profile, consisting of a tapered round tower;
— its internal layout, with a central stone stairway within the shaft;
— its three windows, on the south, west, and north façades;
— its colour scheme, consisting of an all-white tower; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.