Merry Island Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Sunshine Coast, British Columbia
General view of Merry Island Lighthouse and related buildings, 2009. (© Kraig Anderson -
General view
(© Kraig Anderson -
Address : Merry Island, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2015-05-29
  • 1966 to 1966 (Construction)
  • 1903 to 1903 (Established)

Description of Historic Place

The Merry Island Lighthouse consists of a square base, with a tower rising from the corner of the building. The tower is 12 metres (40 feet) in height. The lighthouse is located on the southeast extremity of Merry Island and marks the southeast entrance to Welcome Passage in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia.
There are five related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1968 Principal (Senior Keeper’s) Dwelling; (2) the 1956 Junior Keeper’s Dwelling; (3) the 1965 storage shed; (4) the 1962 Boathouse; and (5) the 2004 Bulk Fuel Storage System.

Heritage Value

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

Historical values
The Merry Island Lighthouse is a very good example of the modernization of Canada’s lighthouse system in the 1950s and 1960s. More specifically, the lighthouse is associated with the improvement of the navigation system in the Strait of Georgia after the 1950s. The lighthouse is also associated with marine transportation safety in this major artery for commercial ship traffic into and out of Vancouver.
Since its establishment in 1903, the Merry Island lightstation has managed a substantial amount of traffic. By allowing for navigation in the Welcome Passage and Malaspina Strait, the lighthouse has directed marine traffic coming from the north, from Alaska and more distant places, through the Georgia Strait and into the Port of Vancouver. Owing to the role played by the lighthouse in the security of shipping lanes as heavily used as Welcome Passage and Malaspina Strait, its contribution to the development of Vancouver and Canada’s West Coast is of inestimable value.

Architectural values
The Merry Island Lighthouse is a fine example of the concrete block replacement lighthouses built between the 1940s and 1960s. Its utilitarian design, the simplicity of its construction and the lack of adornment contribute to its minimalist and modern appearance. Two red maple leaves, sculpted in relief, add to the visual interest of the lighthouse.
The Merry Island Lighthouse is a good illustration of the popularity and flexibility of this design for a concrete lighthouse with integrated fog alarm building. It was built using common durable materials, and the design of the tower is very simple, reflecting its functionality. Two fog horns protruding from one elevation of the tower are among its distinctive elements and testify to the auditory aid to navigation provided by the lightstation.

Community values
The Merry Island Lighthouse establishes the focal point of the maritime character of the surrounding landscape. Visible from the Sunshine Coast, the lighthouse, with its related buildings, dominates the landscape where it is located.
The Merry Island Lighthouse remains a valued symbol of the Sunshine Coast community. It is known and recognized by local inhabitants and is an integral part of the local landscape. Even today, the lighthouse remains an important landmark for ships making up the significant marine traffic in the surrounding waters.

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 Merry Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on the southeastern tip of Merry Island;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile and proportions, characterized by the simplicity of its construction;
— its square base, from which rises a square tower;
— its octagonal metal lantern, with rectangular windows on each side and topped with a dome-shaped roof;
— its integrated fog horn building;
— its two fog horns, protruding from one elevation of the tower;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme, that is, white for the exterior walls and red for the roofs, lantern and maple leaves; and
— 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.