Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse

Heritage Lighthouse

Hamilton, Ontario
Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse (© Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Pêches et Océans Canada)
Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse
(© Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Pêches et Océans Canada)
Address : Breezeway Trail, Hamilton, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
Designation Date: 2021-07-29
  • 1857 to 1858 (Construction)
  • 1857 to 1858 (Established)

Description of Historic Place

The Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse is a 16.7 metre (55 feet) tall, circular, tapered, limestone tower with an iron lantern and catwalk. The lighthouse marks the entrance to the Burlington Canal. It supported the passage of vessels from Lake Ontario to Burlington Bay (now known as Hamilton Harbour). The current lighthouse was built in 1857 and is the second on site.

There is one related building on site that contributes to the heritage character of the lighthouse: a one-and-a-half-storey double keepers’ cottage that was built in 1857 by John Brown.

Heritage Value

Heritage Value
The Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.

Historical values
The Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse is an excellent example of the early development of aids to navigation on Lake Ontario. The Province of Upper Canada erected the first lighthouse at this site in 1837 after the completion of the Burlington Canal, which connected Hamilton Harbour to Lake Ontario. It was replaced by the current stone lighthouse in 1857. The lighthouse guided vessels into Burlington Bay helping contribute to the transformation of Hamilton into a major industrial port throughout the mid-19th and 20th centuries. The area continues to be an industrial transportation hub and also a recreational area for marine traffic.

Architectural values
The Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse is a very good example of a tall, circular, stone tower built of separated, even-coursed sturdy stonework. It follows the typical design of tapered stone lighthouses in its shape and construction, and is similar in style to the Imperial towers on Georgian Bay, Ontario. The lighthouse features a single round-arched doorway and narrow rectangular windows on opposing sides of four levels. The excellence of its original workmanship is demonstrated in that 150 years after its construction, the tower is in remarkably good shape overall.

Community values
Located on a strip of land known today as Hamilton Beach, the Burlington Canal Lighthouse is highly valued in the community. Recent revitalization of the beach area has sparked renewed interest in the lighthouse and keepers’ residence. Interpretation panels on the Waterfront Trail that runs along the beach strip interprets the history of the canal and the navigation structures surrounding it.

Related buildings
One related building, as listed in Section 1, contributes to the heritage character of the lighthouse.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse should be respected:
its intact, as-built structural form, distinctive height, profile, and balanced proportions; its original stone tower built of squared, even-coursed stonework; its similar style to the Imperial tower lighthouses; its single rounded-arched doorway with a blind transom and narrow rectangular windows; its circular interior wood staircase that leads to the lantern; its original lantern and lighting apparatus; its utilitarian design, minimalistic and modern appearance, and; its visual prominence in relation to the water and the landscape.

The following character-defining elements of the related building should be respected:
its respective built forms, profiles and proportions; its solid brick masonry structure with a side-gable roof, raised parapet walls, and paired end chimneys; its contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.