Lighthouse Point

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

Photo take from a boat looking towards the Lighthouse Point lighthouse, and the caretaker and assistance's houses.

Lighthouse Point

Lighthouse Point is the site of the first lighthouse in what is now Canada. Its beacon was first lit in 1734 by the French. You can still see the foundations of this lighthouse, as well as the foundations of the second lighthouse that stood on Lighthouse Point from 1847 to 1923, when you visit today. The current lighthouse was built in 1923 and lit in 1924. The structure, painted in the traditional Canadian Coast Guard color scheme of white with a red lantern, still serves the active fishing community at Louisbourg. The lighthouse is a prominent feature of the coastline, standing proudly at the entrance of Louisbourg harbor against a backdrop of rugged rocks and crashing waves. Extensive refurbishment of the 1923 lighthouse began in November 2023 and will include a variety of historic concrete repairs, surface cleaning, recoating of the light tower, as well as other interior and exterior repairs. The Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail begins near the lighthouse.


It was designed by the French engineer Etienne Verrier and would replace the large wooden cross that marked the entrance of the harbour beforehand. Construction for this stone tower began in 1730. The tower was 22.3 meters in height, with a wooden-framed lantern and a slate roof. Its beacon was first lit in April 1734. Wicks dipped in a bronze basin full of cod oil were used as for the light, and the flames could be seen for 16 kilometers. The first lighthouse keepers on record were soldiers.

A fire destroyed the wooden parts of the structure in 1736. It was rebuilt in 1738 out of stone, brick, and slate, making it the first fireproof lighthouse in North America. During the 1745 and the 1758 sieges of the Fortress, Lighthouse Point was used by New England and British troops as a strategic military position. The lighthouse was badly damaged during the 1758 siege and was never repaired.

A second lighthouse was built near the French lighthouse about 100 years later, in 1847. Increased maritime traffic in and out of Louisbourg harbour, as well a shipwreck along the treacherous North Atlantic coast, let to the construction of several lights and life saving stations in the area. This lighthouse was a square wooden structure built on stone foundations. It was painted white with vertical black stripes. Improvements were made to the structure over the year, including the addition of a foghorn nearby in 1902. During the First World War, the fixed light was replaced by a revolving one. Six lighthouse keepers watched over the 1847 lighthouse over the years. The lighthouse was destroyed by fire in June 1923.

Construction of the current lighthouse began in 1923. It entered service in February 1924. Lighthouse keepers watched over it until 1990, when the lighthouse became fully automated. The building was recognised as a Federal Heritage Building in 1992 because of its association with the theme of aid to navigation, because of its historical and environmental significance as the site of the first lighthouse in Canada and the second on the North American continent, and for architectural reasons. It remains in active service to this day.

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