Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse
Prince Edward, Ontario
© Parks Canada Agency | Agence Parcs Canada
Scotch Bonnet Island, Prince Edward, Ontario
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1853 to 1856
1856 to 1856
Egg Point Island Lighthouse
Description of Historic Place
The Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is a lighthouse in ruins that stood originally as a tapered, cylindrical limestone tower with an integrated lightkeeper’s residence. The tower consisted of a rubble-stone core that was originally covered in an outer layer of finished stone and capped by a corbelled cornice. Built between 1853 and 1856, the lighthouse sits in the centre of Scotch Bonnet Island, which is located in Lake Ontario, just off the coast of Prince Edward County.
The Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical and community values.
The Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is an excellent example of the Province of Canada providing aids to navigation in the pre-Confederation period. Since its construction in 1856, the lighthouse served as a hazard avoidance light to warn ships travelling through Lake Ontario of the potential danger of the small Scotch Bonnet Island and the nearby shoals. The Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is also located just west of the “Graveyard of Lake Ontario,” the area between Point Petre and Main Duck Island which saw approximately two-thirds of all Lake Ontario shipwrecks during both the sail and steamship eras. Its combined tower and keeper’s dwelling speak to the lightkeeping tradition at remote locations in the nineteenth century.
The Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is closely tied to the socio-economic development of Prince Edward County.
From its foundation in 1784, the county has depended heavily on Lake Ontario. Ship building boomed in the county from 1830 to 1890 due to the availability of pine and oak, as well as hundreds of kilometres of sheltered shoreline ideal for the construction process. Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse guided steamers and schooners loaded with agricultural produce, timber, coal, and immigrants past the island and the nearby shoals.
The Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse establishes the historical maritime identity of Prince Edward County and Lake Ontario. It is a striking structure on the horizon of Lake Ontario and is visible to any vessel traveling from Kingston to Toronto. The island is a National Wildlife Area established under the Canada Wildlife Act and operated by Environment Canada. Although the surrounding waters can be visited by boat, visitation to this National Wildlife Area is prohibited to protect colonies of nesting waterbirds. The ruins of this historic lighthouse present a sharp contrast to the modern steel lighttower installed on the island in 1959 when the lighthouse was commissioned and abandoned.
Although the site of the Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is not accessible to the public, the lighthouse is highly valued by the community as an integral part of the local heritage. Only three stone lighthouses were ever built in Prince Edward County and Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse is the only one that remains. The lighthouse is valued by boaters, tourists and local residents and is a landmark for annual yacht races on Lake Ontario.
No related buildings are included in the designation.
The following character-defining elements of the Scotch Bonnet Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its ruinous physical condition;
— its strategic location on Scotch Bonnet Island on the western approach to Prince Edward County on Lake Ontario;
— its privileged placement at the centre of Scotch Bonnet Island, a low-lying limestone island with sparse vegetation;
— the trace of the lighthouse as described by its found structural form, height and profile;
— the found visual relationship between the cylindrical tower and integrated keeper’s residence; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.