Description of Historic Place
The Green Island Lighthouse is a 10.5 metre (35 feet) tall octagonal, tapered, reinforced concrete tower surmounted by an octagonal lantern. The lighthouse is located on Green Island in Chatham Sound, about 40 kilometres northwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. It is British Columbia’s northernmost lighthouse. The Green Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1956 and is the second lighthouse on the site, replacing the original tower constructed in 1906.
There are seven related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1945 Storage Shed / Workshop, (2) the 1945 Tractor Shed, (3) the 1945 Storage Garage, (4) the 1960 three-bedroom Senior Keeper’s dwelling, (5) the 1960 two-bedroom dwelling (Junior), (6) the Winch House, and (7) the 2000 Engine Room.
The Green Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The Green Island Lighthouse is an excellent example of the development and expansion of aids to navigation in British Columbia. The Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 resulted in an increased volume of marine traffic in the region. In 1906, the Green Island lightstation was established after a number of shipwrecks including the wrecks of the steamer Mexico and the collier Bristol. The lightstation is also related to the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Alongside the railway, the lightstation enabled the intensive development of a vast area of resources in Northwest British Columbia and provided a route to East Asia.
The Green Island Lighthouse is a very good example of the socio-economic development of the region. Functioning as a navigational aid for ships bound for the Portland Canal, Alaska, and East Asia, the current lighthouse and its predecessor supported the cannery, lumber, and mining industries.
The Green Island Lighthouse is an excellent example of a mid-twentieth century octagonal, tapered, reinforced concrete lighthouse. The lighthouse has a simple functional design which is appealing in its utilitarian detailing and good proportions. Its form recalls the classically-inspired tripartite division of base, shaft, and capital. The overall lightstation site is particularly striking due to the lighthouse’s relationship to the impressive grouping of ancillary buildings.
The Green Island Lighthouse displays very good design features common to many other octagonal concrete lighthouses in Canada. Its wide base provides a stable support for the tower and light apparatus, permitting the structure to withstand extreme winds. Concrete structures like this require minimal maintenance and are economical to construct. The continual repetition of this lighthouse form until the late 1960s is a testament to the success of its design.
The Green Island Lighthouse establishes the Pacific maritime character of the area. It is prominently located on the isolated, barren, windswept Green Island. Just 5 kilometres from the Alaskan border, it is the first notable landmark that is seen as marine traffic enters Canada. Its red and white colours provide a distinctive and unmistakable welcome that such vessels are now within Canadian waters.
The Green Island Lighthouse is highly valued by the Pacific maritime community. Due to its isolated location, the Green Island Lighthouse is not associated with a single town or community, but it is a familiar landmark to a great variety of international marine traffic. The Green Island Lighthouse continues to play a role in reinforcing Canadian sovereignty by establishing a human presence on the remote coastline.
Seven related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
The following character-defining elements of the Green Island Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on the rocky Green Island in Chatham Sound;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile, and balanced proportions based on the standard design of octagonal, tapered, reinforced-concrete towers;
— its octagonal iron lantern;
— its open exterior gallery surrounded by a metal handrail;
— its simple tower with minimal use of decorative elements;
— its smooth concrete surface and flared cornice;
— its plain lintels over the three vertically aligned windows;
— its sole entry doorway;
— its traditional exterior colour scheme, consisting of white for the tower and red for the lantern; and,
— its visual prominence in relation to the water and landscape.
The following character-defining elements of the related buildings should be respected:
— their respective built forms, profiles and proportions;
— their traditional red and white exterior colour schemes; and,
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.