Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse
© Les Amis du Port-Joli
Piliars Islands, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1843 to 1843
1843 to 1843
Event, Person, Organization:
Description of Historic Place
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is a circular stone tower topped by a gallery and lantern with a red cupola. The lighthouse stands 18.3 metres (60 feet) tall on a narrow rocky islet, one of the Piliers Islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. It has undergone very little change since its construction in 1843 and remains operational, warning vessels of the dangerous reefs in the waterway.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is an excellent example of the expansion of the aids to navigation system on the St. Lawrence River. Built prior to Confederation in 1843, it is one of Canada's earliest lighthouses and one of the best remaining examples of stone towers constructed by the Corporation of the Trinity House of Quebec, an organization set up by the Parliament of Lower Canada to build lighthouses along the river. This type of island-based lighthouse is typically used to signal dangerous reefs in the waterway. As part of the network of lighthouse along the St. Lawrence, this lighthouse enabled safer passage for the increasing marine traffic travelling along this major route.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is an excellent example of the socio-economic development of the community of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli in the early 20th century. As lighthouses were constructed in coastal communities such as Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, trade and commercial activities grew. The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse has in more recent years been an onshore and offshore tourism attraction, and the region has developed a marketing strategy to boost tourism.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is an excellent example of a circular stone tower. It is very classical and elegant in its composition. The gallery, adorned with a decorative railing is topped with the light room which rests on a three-course stone cornice crowned by a red cupola. The tower is visually reminiscent of military architecture and is a style that was very popular in England and the United States during the early 19th century.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse was designed by engineer Charles Atherton, who was contracted by the Trinity House of Quebec. Trinity House demanded high quality materials and craftsmanship for its lighthouses, and Pilier de Pierre was no exception. It was built with stone on the exterior and brick on the interior as these materials were favoured over wood since they resisted fire, humidity, and freezing. The stone course encircling the tower acted as flashing to drain water off the structure. The interior design of this three-storey tower is functional and efficient: the ground floor was used as a storage area, the second floor as living quarters for the light keeper and the top floor as the light room. The tower has not required major renovations since its construction in 1834, a testament to the quality of materials and craftsmanship.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is located on a narrow, rocky islet, about 6.5 kilometres offshore in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. As the only remaining structure on the island, the stone covered lighthouse blends in well with its rugged surroundings and establishes the maritime character of its nearest community, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli.
The Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse is a significant part of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli's identity it is visible from virtually everywhere in the entire village, where a number of light keepers' descendants reside. It is a familiar landmark and highly valued by the community. It has also become an important part of the region's tourism initiatives, which includes a unique linear park along the shore of the village where visitors may view the tower and learn more about its history.
No related buildings.
The following character-defining elements of the Pilier de Pierre Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on a narrow rocky islet in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, southwest of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile and balanced proportions;
— its circular tower clad in stone;
— its concrete, round gallery with its cast-iron and four-tier rope railing;
— its cast-iron lantern with its red cupola;
— its belt course, which encircles the tower and acts as a weather course, repelling water from the rock surface;
— its casement windows inserted in arched stone lintels;
— its vestibule entrance way, which projects from the façade;
— its functional interior layout;
— its exterior colour scheme consisting of its natural stone colour for the tower and red for the lantern, gallery railing, door and windows trim; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and surrounding landscape.