Brier Island Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Digby, Nova Scotia
Brier Island Lighthouse (© Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Pêches et Océans Canada)
Brier Island Lighthouse
(© Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Pêches et Océans Canada)
Address : Bay of Fundy, Digby, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2021-06-14
  • 1944 to 1944 (Construction)
  • 1809 to 1809 (Established)

Description of Historic Place

The Brier Island Lighthouse is an 18-metre (59 feet) tapered, octagonal, reinforced- concrete tower that is surmounted by a red octagonal lantern. Located on the westernmost tip of the 7-kilometre long island in the Municipality of Digby, Nova Scotia, the lighthouse marks the entrance to the Bay of Fundy. Constructed in 1944, it is the 3rd generation lighthouse on the site.
The original lighthouse was established in 1809 and was the first on the Nova Scotian coast of the Bay of Fundy.

Heritage Value

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

Historical values
The Brier Island Lighthouse is an excellent example of early development of aids to navigation in the Bay of Fundy, the main shipping route into Saint John. The first Brier Island Lighthouse was lit in 1809, in the area known as the “Graveyard of the Fundy” due to its dangerous currents and dense fog. It was completely rebuilt in 1833, operating for the next 111 years before being replaced by the 1944 version.

The lighthouse is also an excellent example of the socio-economic development of the Digby region and the nearby communities along the Bay of Fundy. Originally a stopping point and fishing grounds for the Mi’kmaq, Brier Island’s first known permanent settler was a New England fisherman. As shipping increased throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the lighthouse played an important role in guiding vessels carrying rum, molasses, and sugar, manufactured goods, and fish and lumber from nearby ports in and out of the Bay. Today, Brier Island and the surrounding area is home to some of North America’s largest scallop and fishing industries. The lighthouse continues to aid commercial cargo, fishing fleets, and tour boat operators.

Architectural values
The Brier Island Lighthouse is an excellent example of an octagonal, tapered, reinforced-concrete tower lighthouse.
Originating in 1913, this Department of Transport design was used frequently until the 1960s. It is considerably larger compared to other reinforced-concrete lighthouses in Nova Scotia. It also has a curved rather than angled cornice, and a more distinctive red and white colour- scheme, in part to distinguish it from nearby lighthouses.

Community values
The Brier Island Lighthouse stands on a rugged shoreline of basaltic rock overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Once a bustling station consisting of two dwellings, a fog alarm building, garages, and multiple outbuildings, the lighthouse tower is now the only significant structure in a wild expanse of rugged shoreline, establishing the maritime character of the island.

The lighthouse has been a tourist destination since the mid-20th century and today is a beacon for commercial and recreational vessels and whale watching boats. It remains a popular destination for visitors and locals alike, and is also home to a nature preserve for birds and rare plants. With its 212-year association with the island’s historic fishing tradition, the lighthouse is a highly valued symbol of the community.

Related buildings
No related buildings.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Brier Island Lighthouse should be respected: its intact, as-built structural form, distinctive height, profile, and balanced proportions; its reinforced-concrete tower its octagonal red lantern, gallery, and red steel railing; its curved cornice; its distinctive and traditional red and white colour scheme that consists of three horizontal red bands, and; its visual prominence in relation to the water and the landscape.