Constructed between 1855-1858, the Nottawasaga Lighthouse is one of six “Imperial Towers” built on the Great Lakes. With its impressive masonry construction and intricate finishing details of European origin, the Nottawasaga Lighthouse has provided safe passage for both commercial ships and recreational boaters around the treacherous shoals and shallow waters that guard the entrance to Collingwood’s harbour.
Having saved countless lives through its 162-year history (1858-2020), the Nottawasaga Lighthouse is now endangered itself and needs saving. Lighthouses such as this have played an integral role in Canada’s maritime history and Collingwood’s shipbuilding past. Although no longer a “lighted” navigational aid, this towering structure’s mere physical presence serves to assist recreational boaters in visually navigating their way safely back to the safe harbour in Collingwood, both in good weather and in bad.
There was a light keeper on the island until the lighthouse was automated in 1959 and the keeper’s house was destroyed by fire. The lighthouse remained in operation until 2003 when the Coast Guard stopped all maintenance over concerns about the structural integrity of the tower. The tower had suffered damage due to the infiltration of water between the two layers of stone and lightening strikes caused some of the outer stone
to come loose and fall to the ground. It remains in a state that can be recovered.
The Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS) wants to restore the Nottawasaga Lighthouse to its original condition. They aim to serve all Canadians who hold some connection to the lighthouse and serve the lighthouse herself, a historical building that has suffered from neglect by lack of maintenance and upkeep.
Through collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who remains the site’s owners, the NLPS has successfully slowed the deterioration by installing protective coverings and lightning rods. They continue to work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and, recently with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation to transfer the ownership of the site to the NLPS so they may repair the tower and rebuild the lightkeepers house, ensuring that this beautiful and iconic piece of Collingwood and Georgian Bay’s maritime heritage is preserved.
How can people take action to help?
“The restoration work is expensive and requires community financial support. Upon ownership, the NLPS will turn to the community for their ongoing fundraising efforts and are looking for new members to join the society. To keep informed or donate securely online, please visit their website and follow them on their Facebook page (information below). You can also write our Member of Parliament, Terry Dowdall, and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, to urge them to action.”