Shipwrecks. Storms. Sunsets. Sieges.
These lighthouses have seen it all.
Built to protect sailors from hazardous areas and to serve as navigational beacons, towering lighthouses dot Canada’s magnificent coast from the east to the west. With the longest coastline in the world, Canada is home to a plethora of scenic, unique and historic lighthouses.
Lighthouses are often built on isolated, rocky and dangerous outcroppings. Exercise extreme caution when visiting, follow all posted signs and avoid getting too close, especially to those that are still operational.
1. Panmure Island Lighthouse
Travelling to PEI means an island adventure with near-endless water views and, of course, picturesque lighthouses speckled across the coastline of the country’s smallest province. Alongside sun-swept red cliffs and rolling sand dunes, tall lighthouses pop up to greet ships. Visit PEI’s oldest wooden lighthouse, built in 1853, which has been renovated and is maintained by the Panmure Island Lighthouse Society.
2. Cape Spear Lighthouse
Sven Bergström Flickr cc by 2.0
Sitting atop the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, this lighthouse marks the easternmost point in North America. Just outside of the capital of St. Johns, it was the second lighthouse to be built in Newfoundland in 1835. It was originally powered by oil, before becoming electric in 1930. Today, it is a National Historic Site.
3. Peggy’s Cove
Also known as Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, this scenic and popular oceanside beacon is located on the shores of St. Margaret’s Bay in Nova Scotia. Built in 1915, the lighthouse is extremely picturesque and located only 45 kilometres away from Halifax. Take some time to explore nearby Polly’s Cove, a less-famous pocket of wilderness with views of bare grey rock, hardy green plants and the occasional playful seal.
4. Cape Jourimain Lighthouse
Located near the Confederation Bridge in New Brunswick, this wood-frame tower was built in 1869 after 30 years of petitions. Standing 15.5 metres tall, it watches over the Northumberland Strait within the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. Visitors can admire the classic red-and-white octagonal design and Victorian-esque ornamentation. It was looked after by four generations of the Bent family, believed to be the longest serving family of lighthouse keepers in Canada. Although it is no longer operational, it serves as a powerful symbol for the province and a beacon of hope.
5. Little Lighthouse on the Prairie
In Humboldt, Saskatchewan, you can discover this unique prairie lighthouse. While it may look like a coastal lighthouse, it was originally built in 1915 as a water tower. After years of neglect, it was given a new life. Adapted and restored to look like a white and black lighthouse perched on an ocean of prairie grass, the revived structure features a steel tank, timber housing and cedar shingle roof. There’s a doorway and a spiral staircase offering access to the interior.
Stretching along the Gaspe Coast, Fame Point features hiking trails, historical exhibits and a stunning red cast iron lighthouse built in 1907. Learn about North America’s first maritime radio station, local fishermen, and lighthouse keepers who called this isolated shore home. It’s considered to be the most travelled lighthouse in the world, after spending 20 years in the Port of Quebec. It was returned to its original site in 1997.
7. Point Riche Lighthouse
Haydn Blackey Flickr cc by sa 2.0
On the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a pepperpot lighthouse built in 1892 guides ships to safe harbour. At 19 metres high, the impressive white wooden structure holds a red lantern room, where an iconic light flashes every five seconds. Located on the northwest side of the Great Northern Peninsula in Port-au-Choix National Historic Site of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is a popular spot for caribou and humpback whale sightings.
8. Fisgard Lighthouse
This lighthouse just outside of Victoria, BC, became the first lighthouse on Canada’s west coast in 1860. The Strait of Juan de Fuca contrasts the red brick lightkeeper’s house and white tower. On-site exhibits detail past shipwrecks, storms and examples of lighthouse equipment from the 19th century. The light itself was automated in 1929. The beacon was originally built for the British Royal Navy; visit Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to see the Esquimalt Naval Base.
9. Ogden Point Lighthouse
Windswept and wavey, Ogden Point is a popular destination in Victoria on Vancouver Island. On a clear day, you can see all the way into the United States. Come prepared for wild winds along the breakwater towards the lighthouse, which was built in 1916. Located on the southwest side of the city, the breakwater is a popular 1.78-kilometre walk that is beautiful to visit year-round.
10. Lighthouse Park
Alison Karlene Hodgins
Located in West Vancouver, this beautiful park has buildings dating back to WWII, scenic viewpoints and a working lighthouse. Built in 1874, Point Atkinson Lighthouse overlooks a strategic entrance to the Burrard Inlet. The present tower, built in 1912, was designated a National Historic Site in 1994. Explore the meandering trails and rocky outcrops for stunning views of Vancouver and beyond.