The abundance of 19th century shipwrecks along the Bruce Coast (especially around the shoals and islands off Tobermory) testifies to the need for navigation aids. An ambitious program was undertaken in the 1850’s to build six Imperial Lighthouses, four of which are in our area. Cove Island (1858) was the first of these to become operational, followed the next year by Point Clark, Chantry Island and Griffith Island. When built, they were by far the tallest structures on the upper Great Lakes, yet they were built by hand, in remote, uninhabited locations, with men and materials brought in by sailing vessels.
Many more lighthouses and other navigational aids were added in succeeding decades, but none have the majestic feel of the Imperial Lighthouses.
When visiting lighthouses, watch the weather. Visits to some sites are weather dependent.
Admission fees vary for each location. National Park fees apply for Flowerpot Island. For all island locations, tour boat fees apply. Most of the manned sites are maintained by volunteers. Please support their efforts by leaving a donation or ask about signing up.
Visit a lighthouse and relive life as it was over 100 years ago along the Bruce Coast.
Lighthouses of the Bruce:
• Point Clark Lighthouse located on Lake Huron near Point Clark, Ontario. Started flashing in 1859. The lighthouse stands 87 ft. (26.50 m) high. Point Clark is the only imperial tower located on the mainland and accessible by road.
• Kincardine Light on Highway 21 in Kincardine, Ontario. Built into the harbour hillside in 1874, this octagonal wooden tower stands 74 ft. (24.4 m) tall atop a two-storey keeper’s house. There is a museum and a clubhouse.
• Chantry Island Lighthouse on Highway 21 in Southampton, Ontario, An Imperial Tower first lit in 1859. Tours of the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters are available from Victoria Day weekend until the end of September. Details on the tours are available at www.chantryisland.com.
• Saugeen Front Range Light is located on a pier at the mouth of the Saugeen River in Southampton Ontario. The first light was established in 1883. The Southampton Marine Heritage Society has set up guided Tours. These tours will be booked out of the present tour base located at the river mouth.
• The Big Tub Lighthouse in Tobermory was built in 1886. The grounds are open to the public and the shoreline is a popular swimming and diving site.
• Flowerpot Island Light was established in 1897. The original lighthouse was destroyed and pushed from the cliff in 1969 after being replaced by the steel tower still at the site.
• Cove Island Light is an impressive, 80 foot tall Imperial Tower. It was lit in 1858, making it the first of the imperial towers to be operational. This lighthouse is best viewed from tour boats out of Tobermory and from the MS Chi Cheemaun ferry.
• Cabot Head Light, north of Dyers Bay was built in 1896. The light sits atop the two-storey keeper’s house. The lightstation has been lovingly restored as a museum by The Friends of Cabot Head. The grounds include shoreline on both Georgian Bay and Wingfield Basin.
• Lion’s Head Lighthouse is located at the marina in Lion’s Head. Was first established here in 1903.
• Cape Croker Lighthouse, located at Cape Croker, home to the Chippewas of Nawash, was originally built in 1898. Please respect local culture when visiting this site. The lighthouse is not available for tours but can be photographed.
Also part of the Bruce Coast Lighthouse Tour but not accessible by road or tour boat:
• Griffith Island Light. This imperial tower lighthouse on Griffith Island near Wiarton, Ontario, was established in 1858. This light is only visible by private boat from the water and access is not permitted.
• Knife Island Lighthouse and Lyal Island Range Light. These two lights are located just off Stokes Bay in Lake Huron. Access to these sites is best suited to the experienced canoeist or kayaker.
For more information on the lighthouses of the Bruce and for a complete lighthouse tour visit www.daytripcompanion.ca.