Cape George Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Antigonish County, Nova Scotia
General view of Cape George Lighthouse showing its balanced proportions and elegant profile, 2012. (© Kraig Anderson -
General view
(© Kraig Anderson -
Address : Highway 337, Cape George Point, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2015-02-12
  • 1968 to 1968 (Construction)
  • 1861 to 1861 (Established)

Other Name(s):
  • Cape George Lighthouse  (Designation Name)

Description of Historic Place

The Cape George Lighthouse is an octagonal, tapered, reinforced-concrete lighthouse built in 1968. The lighthouse measures 13.7 metres (45 feet) and stands 123 metres (404 feet) above the water, on a wooded bluff overlooking Ballantyne Cove. It is the third lighthouse built on the site, and its position at the top of the bluff enables it to guide vessels through the Northumberland Strait, as well as into St. George’s Bay.

Heritage Value

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

Historical values
The Cape George Lighthouse is an excellent example of the Department of Marine and Fisheries’ initiative to surround Canada’s coasts with a system of lighthouses. As part of this programme, a light was first established at Cape George in 1861 to aid mariners navigating the Northumberland Strait and entering St. George’s Bay. In the mid-20th century the Department of Transport embarked on a project to automate and de-staff many Canadian lighthouses. The current Cape George Lighthouse, built in 1968, was one of many automated lighthouses erected within this project.
The Cape George Lighthouse has played a key role as a local aid to navigation, permitting the safe operation of the local fisheries. In the 21st century, with the decline of the fisheries, the area has become increasingly reliant on the tourism industry. The Cape George Lighthouse serves as one of the trailheads for the Cape George Trail, and continues to be vital as a guiding light for local fishermen and the recreational boating community.

Architectural values
The Cape George Lighthouse is a very good example of an octagonal, tapered, reinforced-concrete lighthouse. With its simple, clean lines, well-proportioned tapered tower, and red-and-white paint scheme, the lighthouse is a superb example of the traditional Canadian lighthouse design favoured in the 20th century.
The Cape George Lighthouse is constructed of reinforced concrete and was built according to a standard Department of Transport plan. The tapered, octagonal, and reinforced-concrete design was popular because it could be achieved with common, yet durable materials. The Cape George Lighthouse is characterized by its balanced proportions and elegant profile.

Community values
The Cape George Lighthouse sits on a magnificent wooded bluff, high above the waters of St. George’s Bay. Its presence reinforces the maritime character of the area. The lighthouse is surrounded by heavily-wooded coastal land that was acquired by the provincial government to ensure continued public access to the lighthouse and adjacent day park. The area adjacent to the lighthouse has, therefore, remained remarkably unchanged since the construction of the first lighthouse on the site in 1861.
The Cape George Lighthouse remains important to the small local community, as both an aid to navigation for local fishermen, as well as a significant tourist attraction. The lighthouse is considered one of the most significant tourist attractions along Nova Scotia’s Sunrise Trail, and it receives large amounts of visitors every year.

Related buildings
No related buildings contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Cape George Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on a bluff overlooking St. George’s Bay, Nova Scotia;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and proportions;
— its octagonal, tapered structure of reinforced concrete;
— its doorway on the south elevation, surmounted by a shallow, projecting, sloped lintel;
— its gallery, supported by the coved cornice that transitions from the tapered walls;
— the design and material of the railing that surrounds the gallery;
— its octagonal metal lantern;
— its traditional colour scheme, consisting of white for the tower and red for the door, gallery railing, lantern, and jaunty maple leaf on the southeast façade; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.