The Hamilton Spectator

Heritage committee places beach lighthouse in endangered category

Relocation could prove troublesom­e, it says


The Hamilton Heritage committee is concerned about the future of the historic Burlington Canal Main Lighthouse.

The Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority is expected to announce early in the new year plans to rehabilita­te and relocate the structure from its current location near the Burlington Lift Bridge to a place near Fisherman’s Pier.

Moving the structure, though, could put it at risk, said committee member Robin McKee. At his suggestion, the heritage committee at its Dec. 14 meeting placed the lighthouse into the committee’s “red” category identifing buildings and landscapes as endangered.

“Moving the structure could damage it,” said McKee.

Larissa Fenn, director of public affairs for the port authority, said relocating the lighthouse “is an important step in providing public access to the structure” which it can’t provide now because of its proximity to the bridge.

Fenn said the authority is planning to move the lighthouse onto authority property adjacent to the canal “so that it can serve as a centrepiec­e of a redevelope­d public area at Fisherman’s Pier.”

She said details of the engineerin­g and logistics of moving the structure will be made in January.

Meanwhile, the lighthouse has been designated as a heritage building under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, an “important step” in this long but careful effort to preserve the structure, said Fenn.

On Dec. 2, the federal government announced the designatio­n of the lighthouse.

McKee said the lighthouse is also a heritage-designated structure by the Ontario Heritage Foundation.

A 2005 study by the Architectu­ral Conservanc­y of Ontario found the lighthouse to be sound, even though it recommende­d replacing the mortar joints and wood stairs, which are “unsafe.”

The federal government has been in discussion­s over several years with the port authority to transfer the 163-yearold lighthouse and Keeper’s Cottage from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to the organizati­on. It had been expected to take place later in 2021. The plan by the authority has been to restore the cottage, while relocating the lighthouse a short distance to the Fisherman’s Pier adjacent to the Hamilton Harbour.

The 17-metre (55-foot) stone, tapered limestone tower with an iron lantern and catwalk was built in 1858 by John Brown, a well-known and respected stonemason. The 1.5-storey lighthouse cottage was constructe­d in 1857 and both structures were in operation until 1961.

The federal department of public works and government services declared the land where the lighthouse station and cottage is located surplus in 2004. Since then a not-for-profit beach lighthouse volunteer group has attempted to acquire the lighthouse and restore it.

The Hamilton Future Fund committee provided the Beach Canal Lighthouse organizati­on with about $400,000 to help restore the structure.

In 2013 a licensing agreement was establishe­d between the federal government and the lighthouse organizati­on for repairs to be made at the structure. In 2017 the port authority entered the negotiatio­ns with the goal to redevelop Fisherman’s Pier.

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