Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Guysborough County, Nova Scotia
The refurbished Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse in 2018. (© Fisheries and Oceans / Pêche et océans, 2018)
Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse
(© Fisheries and Oceans / Pêche et océans, 2018)
Address : 583 Isaacs Harbour Road, Isaacs Harbour, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2018-05-28
  • 1928 to 1928 (Construction)

Description of Historic Place

The Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse is a 12.8 metre (42 feet), two-storey combined lighthouse and keepers’ dwelling which guides vessels into Isaacs Harbour. Located on the southeast coast of Nova Scotia, it was constructed in 1928 as a replacement to the original lighthouse built in 1874, which was destroyed by fire. The lighthouse was de-staffed in the 1960s and taken out of service in 2008.

Heritage Value

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

Historical values
The Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse is an excellent example of the expansion of the Nova Scotia lighthouse system, as it was one of ten lightstations established in the province in 1874. The lighthouse was built to guide vessels into Isaacs Harbour and to safeguard shipping for the growing community. The existing lighthouse is associated with the post-Confederation building campaign to improve maritime safety by building an extensive network of minor coastal lights.

The lighthouse has served an important role in the socio-economic development of the communities of Isaacs Harbour and Goldboro. For centuries, the area provided shelter to fishing boats and was home to at least two Mi’kmaq encampments prior to non-Indigenous settlement. By the 19th century, a fishing, shipbuilding and gold mining industry emerged. While they declined by the mid-20th century, the light continued to guide cargo and passenger ships travelling past the lighthouse.

Architectural values
The Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse is a very good example of a two-storey combined lighthouse and keepers’ dwelling. The simple and pleasing wood structure is surmounted by a cupola, a gallery, and an octagonal lantern.
The lighthouse was inexpensive to build and easy to construct, consistent with the government’s desire to swiftly build a large number of lighthouses after Confederation. Its compact design, with a balloon-frame structural system, required less workmanship and materials during construction. The combined dwelling design provided the simple comforts of a typical home while allowing the lightkeeper quick access to the light.

Community values
The Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse is located on a prominent bluff on the west side of the harbour, looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Though not within sight of the local community of Isaacs Harbour, it is prominent from Goldboro on the opposite shore. Its classic red and white colour scheme and setting reinforces the character of its coastal environment and it remains a landmark for mariners.

Though the region has declined in population, residents continue to value the lighthouse as a physical reminder of their maritime heritage.

Related buildings
No related buildings are included in the designation.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Isaacs Harbour Lighthouse should be respected:
its prominent location on the shores of Isaacs Harbour; its intact, as-built structural form, height, and balanced proportions; its two-storey lighthouse and residence architectural plan; its balloon-frame, wooden structural system; its “cupola” platform with gallery; its octagonal lantern; its functional interior layout, which allows access to the light via the second storey; its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme; and, its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.