Active Pass lighthouse a heritage site

Iconic light station in the Gulf Islands National Park was built in 1969

The lighthouse in Active Pass was given heritage designation earlier this month.

The landmark lighthouse in Active Pass has been given heritage designation by the Federal government.

The 45-foot lighthouse is owned by Parks Canada and is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. It is the third lighthouse on that particular site and was built in 1969. It is still functional today.

“This is a very significant designation and it essentially means the buildings and site will be protected and maintained,” explained Norman Shields, the Heritage Lighthouse Program manager from Parks Canada.

Shields added the Active Pass lighthouse heritage designation includes the keeper’s residence on the site as well as the storage shed and radio room.

The lighthouse is what many people call an apple core lighthouse, explained Shields, meaning the bottom pillar is white with the top portion, painted red, flaring out slightly.

“It’s definitely an iconic lighthouse, it’s well known to British Columbians and because it’s on the ferry route from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, it’s seen by millions of people every year,” said Shields.

The lighthouse in Active Pass was designated in December of 2013 along with the lighthouse at Estevan Point in Hesquiat Peninsula Provincial Park.

The two new designations mean that since August of 2012, 11 lighthouses in total across Canada have been given heritage status.

“The Active Pass and Estevan Point lighthouses located in important British Columbian waterways are illustrations of the significant role lighthouses have played in our maritime history. [The heritage] designation will allow us to preserve a part of British Columbia’s extraordinary heritage and remind us of the essential role lighthouses along our entire coast have played in our past and continue to play today,” said federal Minister of Industry James Moore of the designations.

Lighthouses have to qualify for heritage designation by fitting into three basic categories, explained Shields.

The historical aspect of the lighthouse, the architectural aspect of the lighthouse and the community value of the lighthouse and property are all considered in the nominations.

“The historical aspect of the lighthouses speaks to how the lighthouse fits into the wider theme of history in the area it’s located,” explained Shields, adding that the architectural aspect and community value of the site speak more to the physical aspects of the lighthouse and the property it’s located on.

The Active Pass and Estevan Point lighthouses join two other heritage lighthouses which were designated in May of 2013: the East Point lighthouse on Saturna Island and the Fisgard lighthouse at the entrance of Esquimalt Harbour.

For more information on heritage lighthouse designation visit and click on the National Historic Sites of Canada tab.


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