Point Clark Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada

Amberly, Point Clark, Ontario
General view showing the sparse detailing, including plain stone sills of the small staggered windows and the smooth surrounds of the round-headed doorway. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
General view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
General view showing the sparse detailing, including plain stone sills of the small staggered windows and the smooth surrounds of the round-headed doorway. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs CanadaGeneral view of the Point Clark Lighthouse and its surroundings. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs CanadaGeneral view of the Point Clark Lighthouse, 1997. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1997.
Address : Amberly, Point Clark, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1966-05-25
Dates:
  • 1856 to 1859 (Construction)
  • 1859 to 1960 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • John Brown  (Person)
  • Department of Public Works  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Point Clark Lighthouse  (Designation Name)
  • Imperial Tower  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 1965-022; 66-032
DFRP Number: 10934 00

Description of Historic Place

Point Clark Lighthouse National Historic Site is a 26.5 metres (87 foot) high light tower, located on a round promontory that juts out from the eastern shore of Lake Huron between Sarnia and Tobermory, Ontario. The slightly tapered column is clad in rusticated whitewashed limestone and is capped by a 12-sided cast iron lantern with a domed roof. The Point Clark Lighthouse is surrounded by a wooden storage building and a former lighthouse keeper’s residence, which is currently run as museum. Official recognition refers to the tower on its footprint.

Heritage Value

Point Clark Lighthouse was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1966 because: built in 1859, Point Clark Lighthouse is one of six Imperial Towers on the eastern shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

The heritage value of Point Clark Lighthouse lies in the quality and completeness of its physical form, its distinctive lantern, its siting and its continuous operation since 1859. Known as an Imperial tower, it was built between 1856 and 1859 by contractor John Brown for the Department of Public Works. Marking the location of a dangerous shoal in Lake Huron, it provided greater navigational safety for the increased commercial and passenger traffic on the lake. The technology of its lighting apparatus has changed over the years, and the revolving mechanism of its light was replaced by an electric motor in 1953. This site was occupied by a lighthouse keeper until the mid-1960s when the light was automated. It was acquired by Parks Canada in 1967, but continues to be operated by the Canadian Coast Guard as a navigational aid.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1966; Commemorative Integrity Statement, January 2003.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include: the location on the eastern shore of Lake Huron; the setting amidst subsidiary buildings, including the early limestone lightkeeper’s residence and wooden storage building; its massing as a 26.5-metre (90 feet) high tapered circular tower capped by a 12-sided lantern under a domed roof; the local stone building material; the sparse detailing, including plain stone sills of the small staggered windows and the smooth surrounds of the round-headed doorway; the quality of adjunct details, in particular the polygonal lantern, the 12 bronze lion heads at each angle of the eaves line and the distinctive ball pinnacle of the ventilator; the quality and workmanship of materials, particularly the rusticated whitewashed limestone walls, the details of the tower, and the cast iron of the lantern; the evidence of earlier lighting technologies, including second order dioptric white light, sperm oil residues, and lighting apparatus, including revolving clockwork mechanism on a track with weights, earlier electric mechanisms; its continuing operation as a lighthouse; the viewscape arc of 30 kilometres over the water encompassing the sweep of its light from the tower; the viewscape from the lighthouse to the shoal which extends into Lake Huron in front of the lighthouse, and to the surrounding shores of Lake Huron which extend to the rear and sides of the promontory on which it sits.