Boat Bluff Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Kitimat-Stikine, British Columbia
General view of Boat Bluff Lighthouse and related buildings showing the setting of the complex surrounded by water and rugged forest of Nothwest Pacific, 2011. (© Kraig Anderson -
General view
(© Kraig Anderson -
Address : Range 3, Boat Bluff, Kitimat-Stikine, British Columbia

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2015-05-29
  • 1979 to 1979 (Construction)
  • 1907 to 1907 (Established)

Description of Historic Place

The Boat Bluff Lighthouse is a square tapered aluminum skeleton frame tower, located on Sarah Island, British Columbia. Surrounded by water and the rugged forest of the Pacific Northwest, the light guides vessels through a heavily trafficked portion of the Inside Passage.

There are five related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1968 Principal Keeper’s Dwelling, (2) the 1961 Assistant Keeper’s Dwelling, (3) the 2000 Boathouse, (4) the 2004 Bulk Fuel Storage System, and (5) the 1973 Engine Room.

Heritage Value

The Boat Bluff Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.

Historical values
Originally established in 1907, the Boat Bluff lightstation was built during the fifth phase of lighthouse construction on British Columbia’s coast, which focussed on lighting the Northern Route and Vancouver Island’s West Coast. At first an unwatched steel frame tower, the lightstation was established at a time when such lighthouses were becoming more popular as economical and efficient designs, suited to light narrow navigational channels. The present 1979 aluminum skeleton tower is the third tower on the site, with the first watched tower being built in 1930.
At the time it was established just after the turn of the century, the Boat Bluff lightstation was associated with the socio-economic development along the Inside Passage. Not only had the Klondike Gold Rush begun, but canneries, lumbering camps and mines had begun to develop along this coastal route. The lighting of this particular section of the waterway, which becomes a narrow cross-entrance to the Tolmie Channel and Sarah Passage, was essential to safeguarding the route and allowed for the increase of commerce and industry. Today, the present lighthouse continues to guide commercial vessels, ferries, and local recreational boaters.

Architectural values
The Boat Bluff Lighthouse is an unpainted, square tapered, open aluminum skeleton frame tower mounted on a red concrete base with four legs. Designed and built primarily with functional considerations in mind, the structure has an air of sturdiness, despite sitting on rocky, uneven ground.
Skeleton lighthouse towers are cheaper and easier to build, adaptable to a variety of heights, and more likely to survive extreme weather conditions. Though many are made of steel, the Boat Bluff lighthouse is made of pre-fabricated aluminum, a light and strong material which would be easy to assemble on the island’s rocky and wooded terrain. It is also resistant to corrosion, an important factor in a location which sees more rain during the summer than other British Columbia lightstations.

Community values
The Boat Bluff Lighthouse is situated within a picturesque lightstation setting against the rugged backdrop of the Pacific Northwest mountains and forest.With the lightkeepers as the only residents of the island, the station is very visible to passing vessels which must pass closely in order to navigate the Tolmie Channel. Surrounded by the traditional red and white Canadian Coast Guard ancillary buildings, the tower fits comfortably into its isolated, seaside setting.
The Boat Bluff Lighthouse is well-known to mariners and to those travelling the Inside Passage aboard ferries or cruise ships, which will often take detours to give passengers the opportunity to photograph the scenic station. Although isolated, it provides a communications link for the community of Klemtu, whose residents use float planes for supplies and medical aid and depend on accurate weather bulletins.

Related buildings
Five related buildings, as listed in section 1 contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Boat Bluff Lighthouse should be respected:
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and proportions;
— its aluminum structure fabricated of sectional components, criss-crossing upwards towards the light;
— its uppermost square platform on which rests a lighting apparatus;
— its gallery railing, including its respective designed form and proportions;
— its visual prominence in relationship 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.