Pointe Mitis Lighthouse
© Bibliothèque et Archives Canada | Library and Archives Canada, LAC PA164438.
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1909 to 1909
1874 to 1874
Event, Person, Organization:
Steel Concrete Company of Montreal
Description of Historic Place
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is a 25 metres (82 feet) tall, hexagonal, reinforced concrete tower surmounted by a cylindrical iron lantern with its base supported by concrete buttresses. It is located on the shore of the St. Lawrence River at Métis-sur-Mer on a low-lying point of land surrounded by rocks. The current structure is the second lighthouse on the site.
There are three related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the ca. 1911-12 Keeper’s Residence, (2) the ca. 1911-12 Garage/Shed, and (3) the ca. 1917-18 Fog Alarm Building.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is an excellent example of the campaign by the post- Confederation government to improve the safety of maritime commerce by developing navigational aids. This lighthouse also represents a modernization program undertaken by the government after 1905. This ambitious program served a number of purposes, including the improvement of internal communications, the encouragement of settlement, and the interchange of goods within the newly created national market. During the 19th century, a succession of shipwrecks occurred at Pointe Mitis, demonstrating the dangers of navigation along this particular coastline.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is a very good example of the socio-economic development of the Métis-sur-Mer community. The first Pointe Mitis Lighthouse built in 1874 aided the navigation of summer steamers, and the arrival of the Intercolonial Railway in 1876 played a great role in establishing the area as one of the premier resorts on the lower St. Lawrence River. In the early 20th century, Métis Beach was in its prime as a fashionable resort, creating regional economic prosperity. As a navigational aid on the St. Lawrence River, the Pointe Mitis Lighthouse served an extensive community of vessels providing many services, such as coastal shipping, transatlantic navigation, and the transportation of passengers, mail, and cargos.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is an excellent and distinctive example of a tall reinforced concrete lighthouse. Its hexagonal form makes it a relatively unique structure exhibiting an excellent, simple aesthetic. A reinforcing coating of concrete, applied in 1923 and 1924, transformed its original cylinder form into its attractive hexagonal shape with robust buttresses.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is an early example of a reinforced concrete tower in Canada. It was constructed soon after the Department of Marine and Fisheries began to use reinforced concrete for lighthouse construction. Reinforced concrete was a popular material for lighthouses from 1906 until the mid-20th century because it was a common yet durable material and could be employed in simple and functional designs. Its present condition testifies to the high quality of materials and the high level of craftsmanship employed in its execution.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse establishes the the picturesque character of its shoreline beach setting. The lighthouse stands on a point of land surrounded by rocks that become submerged at high tide. The
lighthouse is highly visible from boats on the St. Lawrence and from the coast road. The lightstation enhances the charming, seaside ambience of the area.
The Pointe Mitis Lighthouse is highly valued by the local community. It is the most well- known structure in the Métis-sur-Mer area and its location and function make it a natural landmark and a well-loved tourist attraction. It is also very important to mariners who rely on it to safely navigate
this section of the St. Lawrence.
Three related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the Pointe Mitis Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on the shore of the St. Lawrence River at Métis-sur-Mer on a low-lying point of land surrounded by rocks;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile and balanced proportions;
— its hexagonal, reinforced concrete tower, gently flared at the top to join the gallery;
— its cylindrical iron lantern, surmounted by a weathervane;
— its hexagonal concrete gallery;
— its two levels of metal railing, one encircling the gallery, another surrounding the lantern glass;
— its six, 4 metres (13 feet) high buttresses at the base of the tower at each point of the hexagon;
— its L-shaped passageway at the base joining it to the Keeper’s Residence;
— its interior spiral staircase giving access to the light;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme, consisting of a white tower, and a red lantern and gallery; 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; and,
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.