Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act

Backgrounder

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act is designed to conserve and protect federally-owned lighthouses that have significant heritage value. To date, a total of 106 lighthouses have been designated and protected under the Act. Heritage lighthouses are designated by the Minister responsible for Parks Canada (the Minister of Environment and Climate Change) on the advice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act protects the heritage character of designated heritage lighthouses. Designated heritage lighthouses must be reasonably maintained and any alterations must be consistent with national and international standards for conservation. The Act also facilitates the sale or transfer of a heritage lighthouse to other levels of government, to community organizations, or to individuals, in order to ensure an ongoing public purpose for the lighthouse and its long-term conservation. Any sale or transfer of a heritage lighthouse out of the federal portfolio must provide for the protection of its heritage character.

Canadians play an important role in the long-term conservation of heritage lighthouses. Under the Act, a lighthouse that is no longer required by the federal government can only be designated if a new owner is identified who can protect its heritage character. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard have been working with community-based organizations and other levels of government to find responsible, viable new owners for many cherished lighthouses across Canada. To date, sale or transfer agreements have been completed for 63 heritage lighthouses. 

Since 2012, lighthouses from across the country have been recognized, reflecting the Canadian lighthouse system as a whole. The designation criteria identify lighthouses with exceptional heritage values, or a combination of noteworthy elements, in order to promote designations among a wide variety of lighthouses. Many of the country’s architecturally and historically significant lighthouses have been designated, including Triple Island in British Columbia, Île du Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie in Quebec, and Cape Spear in Newfoundland and Labrador. A group of four lighthouses were the first to be designated in 2012: three “pepper pot” style towers in Ontario (McNab Point, Saugeen River Front and Rear Range), as well as St. Paul Island Southwest, a cast-iron cylindrical tower in Nova Scotia. Though modest in nature, these four lighthouses are treasured symbols of their maritime communities, as are all of the lighthouses designated under the Act.  

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to work with Canadians to identify responsible new owners for other cherished lighthouses. New owners of heritage lighthouses may be eligible to apply for funding to support conservation and presentation projects through Parks Canada’s National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places.

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