This article was originally published in the 2020 Spring issue of Invest In Style Magazine.


Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse is iconic to Collingwood, an offshore sentinel that announced to all Collingwood’s status as a major port and shipbuilder. Long decommissioned, the lighthouse is now weathered and crumbling. What was once a vital beacon for shipping is now little more than a seasonal beacon for the gulls and cormorants that colonize the isla nd each spring. 



Plans are afoot to restore the crumbling Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse. Nottawasaga Lighthouse is a historically significant structure, one of six Imperial Towers erected in the 1850s to protect the growing fleet of commercial and passenger vessels travelling on Lake Huron,” explains Robert Square, vice-chair of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS), a charity founded to restore the structure. “It was important to the way of life here and deserves preservation. Collingwood would never have developed into a major port if not for the lighthouse.”


Offshore lies a string of rocks and shoals known today as the Mary Ward Ledge after the luckless steamer that ran aground on them in 1882 with the loss of eight men. It was the threat presented by these rocks that provided the impetus for construction of a lighthouse on Nottawasaga Island.


The lighthouse is an impressive structure. Made from locally quarried stone, it measures 85 feet in height and has a wall thickness of nine feet at the base, tapering to two feet at the top. The interior column is a constant 10 feet in diameter despite the outside tapering. The ornate lantern room was imported from France. The light was staffed from 1858 until automation in 1959. Keepers lived on the island year-round and raised their families in the cottage adjacent to the tower.



In 2003, the Nottawasaga Lighthouse was deemed redundant and decommissioned by the Canadian Coast Guard. “In the years after, the structure began to deteriorate rapidly, including the collapse of a portion of the exterior stonework after a lightning strike,” explains Square. “We’ve wrapped the tower to keep the elements out and ensure there is no further damage.”


The NLPS is currently in the process of acquiring ownership of the lighthouse so that the estimated $2 million in repairs can begin, with an eventual eye to opening this landmark to the public. Until then, Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse will remain an atmospheric roost for seabirds.


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