Photographer: Roy B. Westin

Photographer: Roy B. Westin

Cove Island

Cove Island, ONT

Built :  1855-59

Construction :  Conical, Limestone

Status : Active

Location : Cove Island, Ontario Just North of Tobermory, Ontario

Lat.  45 19' 37" N  -  Long.  81 44' 07" W

Height : 85 feet

Access : Boat, located on the North side of Cove Island, approximately 7 miles North/Northwest of Tobermory harbor.

 

(Imperial Towers) - Six lighthouses where built in the Great Lakes Region with this type of architecture know as the "Imperial" Tower. In the mid-19th century, obsolete navigational aids were keeping the British North America from strong economic development. The Bruce peninsula opening for settlement in the mid-1850's, the United States starting a free trade agreement with Canada in 1854 and the opening of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal in 1855 were creating a major need for better aids to navigation through Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. Lobbying by Montreal's Canadian Shipping magnate, Hugh Allan, along with Admiralty put a change to that by 1857. A (3) year construction program was started with all material and construction expenses provided by Great Britain. A total of $222,564 was spent for construction of all six lighthouses with the tall, conical, limestone towers built to withstand the elements, far surpassing the standards of the 1850's both structurally and financially.

Lighthouse History : This "Imperial Tower" is situated on the Southern end of the "Main Channel" strait between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. At the North end of Cove Island, it helps guide vessels through this very hazardous area. Three miles to the North is "Bad Neighbor Rock" which sits only 4 feet below the waters surface. Just Northwest 2 1/2 miles is shoal known as the "O'Brien Patch" sitting 18 feet below the surface, shallow enough to cause problems for large ships or smaller vessel in rough seas. This shoal is marked with a flashing green buoy and bell.

Construction of this lighthouse was supervised by John Brown which began in 1855. A Second Order Fresnel lens producing at a lens focal plane of 101 feet above Lake Huron.

Constructed of limestone, the base measures 6 feet thick tapering up to the lantern. The upper part of the tower is made of granite, supporting the cast iron lantern room base plate. The (12) sided cast iron lantern is capped with a red domed roof which has bronze "lion heads" around the perimeter, common to the "Imperial Towers".

(see Point Clark for more detail on the "lion heads")

Image source: "Fisheries and Oceans Canada".

Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2001.

Photographer: Roy B. Westin

Around 1929, a radio beacon of 200-watt output was installed to aid mariners in triangulating their true locations.

The fog alarm building, boathouse, original keeper's dwelling, additions to these buildings, two assistant keeper's dwellings, several sheds a radio tower and a dock all remain intact. Of the (6) "Imperial Towers", this station definitely remains in the best condition.

The light station still operates as an active aid to navigation with a fog signal in very good condition. The modern-day automated beacon now produces a flashing white light on 5 second intervals. It also has a fog signal in the following pattern: ( blast 2 seconds, silent 3 seconds, blast 2 seconds, silent 3 seconds, blast 2 seconds, silent 48 seconds) It is now protected as part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park. 


 

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