Miscou Island Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada
Miscou Island, New Brunswick
General view of Miscou Island Lighthouse.
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Ministry of Transport, 1990.
Birch Point, Miscou Island, New Brunswick
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1856 to 1856
1903 to 1903
1946 to 1946
Miscou Island Lighthouse
Miscou Island Light Tower
(Special Name (in French))
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Miscou Island, New Brunswick
This lighthouse was built in 1856 by the Province of New Brunswick to reduce the number of shipping accidents at the southern entrance to Chaleur Bay. Considered a major coastal aid, it merited the subsequent installation of a powerful dioptric light and a diaphone fog alarm. The octagonal tower of hand-sawn timbers, shingled on the outside, was originally almost 23 metres in height and was extended in 1903 by 2 metres. This lighthouse, substantially in its original state, is among the oldest in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region.
Description of Historic Place
Miscou Island Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada is a mid-19th century wooden lighthouse, located at the north-eastern tip of Miscou Island at Birch Point Cape, New Brunswick. It is strategically placed on a flat and exposed coastline surrounded by low scrubland, at the southern entrance of Chaleur Bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The tower’s tapered octagonal massing is shingle-clad, and capped by a polygonal lantern behind a cast-iron rail. A mid 20th-century foghorn building stands on its side. Official recognition refers to the legal property boundary at the time of designation (1974).
Miscou Island Lighthouse was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1974 because: it is considered a major coastal aid to navigation and substantially in its original state, this lighthouse is among the oldest in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. [SOCI as derived from Plaque text]
The heritage value of Miscou Island Lighthouse lies in its critical and longstanding role as a lighthouse as embodied by the tower’s function, setting, and composition. In 1856, the lighthouse was constructed by the Province of New Brunswick to reduce the number of shipping accidents in the region. Subsequently, it became a major coastal aid, providing safe navigation for ships entering the Chaleur Bay and for coastal traffic between the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec.
The Miscou Island Lighthouse is one of the rarest surviving wooden, octagonal, tapered lighthouses. The construction technique was unusual as the eight panels were built independently of each other. The lighthouse’s functional design was enhanced with the installation of a powerful dioptric light and a diaphone fog alarm. In 1903, its height was raised from 22.5 to 24.3 metres in order to extend the range of light. In 1946, the entire lighthouse was relocated 61 metres inland due to shoreline erosion. Today, the light is automated and still operating.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1976, 2006.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include: its location at Birch Point Cape on the northeastern end of Miscou Island, New Brunswick; its coastline setting, overlooking Chaleur Bay in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; its octagonal massing and tapered profile; the heavy timber construction with its evidence of hand-hewn craftsmanship; the simple exterior detailing including: the shingle cladding, the shed roofs or pedimented caps over the openings, the staggered four-over-four double-hung windows; and the curved soffit beneath the lantern deck; the four-storey configuration of the interior with its straight stairs; its polygonal lantern set behind a cast iron rail; the colour selection and scheme characteristic of lighthouses, including a white exterior with red trim; the integrity of any surviving or as yet identified archaeological evidence associated with the lighthouse; its continued operation as a lighthouse; the unobstructed viewscapes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Chaleur Bay, and the Gaspé Peninsula.