Heritage lighthouses

Many heritage lighthouses are protected under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act or given special status by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office.

On this page

Protecting heritage lighthouses

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act helps protect Canada’s cultural heritage once a surplus lighthouse is transferred to a new owner. New owners or custodians of these properties must care for and responsibly manage them by following the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Restorations to heritage lighthouses must be consistent with national standards of conservation.

Designation of heritage lighthouses

A lighthouse can only be designated a heritage site after it’s been petitioned for heritage status. The process to transfer a lighthouse involves submitting a plan explaining how proponents intend to use the lighthouse. Generally, the public continues to have access to these sites because most surplus lighthouses are transferred to:

  • provinces
  • townships
  • non-profits
  • municipalities
  • Indigenous groups

Based on the plan for intended use, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada:

  • evaluates the historical, architectural and community value of the nominated lighthouse
  • recommends whether to transfer the lighthouse to new owners and designate the property as a heritage site

On some heritage lighthouse sites, the Government of Canada continues to operate aids to navigation. The new owners must allow the government to continue to operate and maintain the navigational equipment.

The government maintains a grants and contributions program for the disposal of surplus lighthouses, valued at $500,000 annually, to help:

  • transfer heritage lighthouses
  • ensure they’re conserved and accessible to the public

 Parks Canada has more information on:

Acquiring a heritage lighthouse

The government must consider various aspects of the transaction before transferring ownership of a lighthouse. Maintaining public access is a main consideration. Refer to the Alternate Use Study of Surplus Lighthouses to see how lighthouse around the world have been repurposed.

Contact us

For more information, contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada at info@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Date modified: