Entrance Island Lighthouse
Nanaimo, British Columbia
© Library and Archives Canada | Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, PA-164795
Entrance Island, Nanaimo, British Columbia
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1971 to 1971
1876 to 1876
Event, Person, Organization:
Lorence E. Slaght
Kenny’s Construction Company Ltd
Description of Historic Place
The Entrance Island Lighthouse stands on Entrance Island, a rocky islet along the Inside Passage in the Strait of Georgia. It is a round “apple core” reinforced-concrete tower, measuring 12.8 metres (42 feet). The lighthouse guides mariners into the entrance of Nanaimo Harbour.
There are five related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1939 double dwelling (senior), (2) the 1962 single dwelling (junior), (3) the winch house, (4) the boat house; and, (5) the 1955 engine room.
The Entrance Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
Originally established in 1876, the Entrance Island Lighthouse was built during the second phase of lighthouse construction on British Columbia’s coast, which focussed on lighting major harbour entrances. Built in 1971, the current lighthouse is an example of the modernisation and evolution of Canadian aids to navigation in the second half of the 20th century.
By the mid-19th century, a number of industries were flourishing in British Columbia, with coal mining at the forefront in the Nanaimo region. Safeguarding the entrance to the harbour, which was notorious for both fog and the dangerous Gabriola Reef, would protect the region’s shipping interests. By 1876, the original lighthouse went into service and would serve the area for almost 100 years, when it was replaced with the current tower. Today, pulp and paper manufacturing has replaced mining as the primary industry in the region, though commercial fishing vessels, sport fishing tours, recreational boaters, and the occasional cruise ship use the Entrance Island Lighthouse as a landmark.
The Entrance Island Lighthouse is a round reinforced concrete “apple core” tower. It is characteristic of the modernist concrete towers designed by Lorence E. Slaght and built in the second half of the 20th century. The tall, white, slender tower bears an octagonal aluminum lantern, with a gallery surrounded by a red railing and no
mouldings or other embellishments. Its interior is also utilitarian, with a spiral staircase as the main feature. The “apple core” design was put into application in the 1960s, when innovative ideas and techniques were being used in lighthouse construction. Slender vertical cantilever towers such as Entrance Island were based on a different engineering design than previous lighthouses – the main structure being attached to a heavy base with rods extending through the foundation to lend additional anchorage, with a large amount of steel reinforcement to keep the concrete structure from cracking. The lighthouse remains in good condition in 2013, which suggests the materials and construction were suitable for its location.
Situated on a small island in the Strait of Georgia, the Entrance Island Lighthouse and its principal keeper’s dwelling are the most prominent buildings at the lightstation. The lighthouse is surrounded by a number of traditional red and white ancillary buildings and together with the scenic mountains in the background, they
reinforce the picturesque maritime setting. Given its prominent location at the entrance to Nainamo Harbour, the Entrance Island lighthouse is well-known to local and international mariners. Each day, thousands of people on ferries, cruise ships, shipping vessels, recreational boats, and floatplanes pass by the Entrance Island Lighthouse. It is viewed as an important nautical and heritage landmark by local residents.
Five related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the Entrance Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its intact structural form, height, profile, and balanced proportions, characterized by the “apple core” tower design;
— its smooth white circular shaft in reinforced concrete;
— its reinforced concrete gallery, supported by a tapered cornice that transitions from the cylindrical wall structure;
— its red metal railing that surrounds the circular gallery enclosing an octagonal metal lantern;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme, that is, the white tower and the gallery accented by red features, such as the railing of the gallery and the lantern; and,
— its visual prominence in relation 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.