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Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse

Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2016/06/14

General view of Port Stanley Breackwater Lighthouse; Philip Bell
General view
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Other Name(s)

Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse
Port Stanley Breakwater Light
Phare de Port Stanley, brise-lames
Port Stanley West Breakwater Light
Phare de Port Stanley, brise-lames ouest

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1911/01/01 to 1911/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2016/11/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse is a pyramidal reinforced concrete tower that measures 10 metres (33 feet). Built in 1911, the lighthouse is the second to be erected on the site. The lighthouse stands at the end of the west Port Stanley Harbour, in the village of Port Stanley on Lake Erie. To facilitate access and navigation into the harbour, there is also an east breakwater lighthouse and a lighttower on the pier.

Heritage Value

The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.

Historical values
The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse is an excellent example of Canada’s expansion of the lighthouse system to improve navigation on the Great Lakes. The mid-19th century saw increased commercial activity on Lake Erie and demand rose for ports on the shores of the Great Lakes. By 1832 there was a harbour in Port Stanley, and by 1844 the first lighthouse was built on the harbour pier to help ensure the safety of passing ships.
The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse was built in response to the growing commercial activity on Lake Erie. The lighthouse and Port Stanley are directly associated with the expansion of shipping activities and with the growing significance of the commercial fishery on Lake Erie, both of which became significant parts of the regional economy. Both of these industries relied on the guidance of the Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse.

Architectural values
The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse is a very good example of a pyramidal reinforced-concrete tower, a design with a distinctive appearance. The broad base of the lighthouse gives it the appearance of being firmly anchored against the battery of storms. The tapered upper part of the lighthouse transitions elegantly from the pyramidal base. The rare and distinctive design was also used elsewhere on the Great Lakes in the first decades of the 20th century.
With its solid, earth-bound base structure, the design of the Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse addresses in a very clear way the forces of nature that must be withstood in this setting. By providing a solid, secure, and weather-resistant base, the lighthouse is very well-adapted to fulfill its function as a secure foundation for its light. The construction methods used on the tower demonstrate very good craftsmanship.

Community values
The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse sits at the end of an isolated breakwater and is surrounded by open water. Its white surface and distinctive shape stand out against the horizon. Together with the Port Stanley East Breakwater light and the lighttower on the pier, the Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse is visually appealing, functional, and symbolic. The three lighthouses are interdependent and reinforce the maritime character of the area.
The Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse has served Port Stanley and Lake Erie’s commercial and recreational boaters for over a century. In the early-21st century, Port Stanley is a popular summer vacation town, and the Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse is a tourist attraction. The lighthouse represents more than a century of maritime history and remains a symbol of the community.

Related buildings
No related buildings contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Port Stanley Breakwater Lighthouse should be respected:
- its prominent location as a harbour light on the Port Stanley west breakwater, on Lake Erie;
- its intact, as-built structural form, height, and balanced proportions;
- its upper part, which rises from a corniced base and tapers up to support the light;
- its platform surrounding the light, which is enclosed by a metal railing;
- its foghorn attached to the upper part of the lighthouse;
- its broad base, which is a pyramidal shape cut off at half its overall height;
- its attached entry vestibule, which emerges from the side of the pyramidal base and is covered by a flat roof;
- its exterior colour scheme, consisting of white for the tower and green for the door; and,
- its visual prominence in relation to the water, landscape, and its associated lights.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act

Recognition Type

Heritage Lighthouse

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Navigational Aid or Lighthouse

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate Documentation Centre, 3rd Floor, room 366, 30 Victoria Street, Gatineau, Quebec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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