Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse
© Agence Parcs Canada | Parks Canada Agency, Marc Loiselle
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1909 to 1909
1909 to 1909
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Marine and Fisheries
Description of Historic Place
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse is an octagonal, reinforced-concrete lighthouse built in 1909. It stands 11.6 metres (38 feet) tall, and sits 63 metres (207 feet) above sea level. The lighthouse is the first on the site, and its position on a steep escarpment enables it to guide vessels safely through the St. Lawrence River. The lighthouse and its outbuildings, listed below, are connected by a network of stairs and wooden walkways.
There are seven related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1909 fog alarm building; (2) the 1957 principal keeper’s dwelling; (3) the 1960 boathouse building; (4) the 1962 assistant keeper’s dwelling; (5) the large shed located north of the keeper’s residence; and (6 & 7) the two small telecommunications structures.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse is an excellent example of the Canadian government’s efforts to make navigation on the St. Lawrence River safer. As part of this program, a light was installed at Cap de la Tête au Chien in 1909. The lighthouse’s strategic location overlooking the St. Lawrence River enhanced navigation safety and supported increased vessel traffic on the river.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse has played a key role as a local aid to navigation, permitting the safe operation of coastal ships, Atlantic steamers, and the local ferries that travel between the remote communities of Quebec. With the help of lighthouses like the one at Cap de la Tête au Chien, the St. Lawrence would serve as a major artery for economic development in Canada during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse is an excellent example of an octagonal, reinforced-concrete lighthouse. The complex, multi-paned windows of the lantern provide a pleasant contrast to the simplicity of the concrete base. Despite its utilitarian design, the lighthouse reflects Canadian lighthouse construction traditions with the octagonal shape of its base, the round lantern, and the red and white exterior colour scheme.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse is superbly suited to the conditions found along the St. Lawrence. The lighthouse is designed to reduce the likelihood of fog concealing the light; its short stature and distinctive silhouette, half lantern and half tower, are the result. The base that supports the lantern is made of reinforced concrete, a popular choice for the construction of lighthouses because it could be achieved with fire-resistant, durable, and commonly found materials.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse sits on a magnificent wooded bluff, high above the waters of the St Lawrence. Its presence establishes the maritime character of the area. The north bank of the river is dominated by wooded hills and cliffs, and the Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse and its outbuildings are built on a steep hill, promoting their visibility from the water far below.
The Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse remains highly valued by the small local communities, including nearby Saint-Siméon and Tadoussac. The lighthouse is also a popular site among tourists, despite the fact that until 2011 it was accessible only by air and water. In 2011 a hiking trail was built, giving nature lovers a chance to see this remote site up close.
Seven related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the Cap de la Tête au Chien Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on a bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and proportions;
— its octagonal structure of reinforced concrete;
— its superimposed, octagonal concrete gallery, surrounded by a cylindrical steel balustrade;
— its original cylindrical lantern and domed roof;
— its multi-paned glass Windows surrounding the lantern;
— its attached entry vestibule with a sloped roof;
— its windows, placed in the wall of the entry vestibule, as well as in the opposing façade of the base;
— its interior ladder and hatch which give access to the light above;
— its traditional exterior colour scheme, consisting of white for the tower and red for the trim, gallery balustrade, and 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; and,
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.