Cape Light Cape Sable Island

Some information on this site courtesy Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society and A History of the Cape Sable Acadians by Shannon Van Buskirk


Since 1788 Shelburne County lighthouses have played an important part in marine navigation for the hudreds of fishermen and mariners who sailed our waters.  Today, most of the lighthouses serve as symbols of our seafaring heritage.  While we observe, we must remember that many of the lights were put out to sea to guide boaters and therefore are only accessible by boat.



Charlesville Lighthouse Shelburne County

Brandon Blades Photo

The original Charlesville (Pubnico Harbour) Lighthouse was built in 1854.  It was a white, square, pyramidal wooden tower with a red latern, with a dwelling attached. Both were demolished in 1967 and replaced with a conical fiberglass tower.


Woods Harbour Lighthouse

Jolene Arey Photo

Built on a rock ledge of Cockawit Passage, the wooden lighthouse was built in 1900.  It was replaced in 1965 and then destaffed in 1993.


Bon Portage Lighthouse

Carlene Adams Photo

The Bon Portage Island lighthouse was established in 1874. For 110 years, 16 principal lightkeepers and their families kept the light burning on this small, windswept island. The longest serving keeper was Morrill Richardson, who along with his wife Evelyn, bought the island (except for the lighthouse property) in 1929.
In 1945, Evelyn Richardson’s classic book We Keep A Light was published and quickly became a best-seller in Canada. She described her family’s life on the island with sensitivity and humour, noting both the disadvantages and joys of life on an isolated island.
Bon Portage Lighthouse was replaced in 1964 by the current building.
Accessible only by boat.


Emerald Island Lighthouse

Carlene Adams Photo

Located in Shag Harbour, NS, this square, wooden tower was built in 1877.  Standing at 21 feet tall the station was destaffed in 1993.


West Head Light

Donna Symonds-Nickerson Photo

Established in 1888, this lighthouse was built on the west side of Cape Sable Island.  Replaced in the 1970′s this 51 foot tower can be seen from afar.  It was automated in 1993.


Cape Lighthouse Cape Sable Island

Brandon Blades Photo

Built in 1861, the Cape Sable Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Nova Scotia, standing at 101 feet tall.  The station was destaffed in 1986.  Although it is only accessible by boat, a magnificent view can be seen from the beach at the end of The Hawk Road, located on Cape Sable Island. The light is not open to the public but can be explored out and around it.  This area is also designated as an Important Bird Area.
On July 28, 1989, the Federal Heritage Building Review Office designated the Cape Sable Light tower a Classified Building, providing it with the highest level of on-going protection.


Seal Island Lighthouse Shelburne County

Paula Atkinson Photo

Ship wreck on Seal Island
Paula Atkinson Photo

The 67 foot timber lighthouse on the island is the original, built 1830-31, the lantern is an aluminium replacement installed in 1978. It contains a modern beacon.
Today Seal Island is in a state of decline. Only a handful of houses and sheds, a church and the automated lighthouse remain on an island that once boasted a permanent population, lobster cannery, post office and even a phone line to the mainland. This decline is nothing new for remote lighthouse and fishing islands off the Atlantic coast- many settlements were abandoned in the early twentieth century when gas boats and mainland amenities drew people away from their island homes.
The freighter Fermont, run aground one year after the last keeper had left the lighthouse, sits hard on the sand of the east beach.
Accessible only by boat.


Seal Island Lighthouse Museum

The museum, a replica of the top half of the Seal Island Lighthouse, displays lighthouse equipment and memorabilia, and tells the fascinating history of the lights on Cape Sable Island, Bon Portage, and Seal Island. The building is topped by the cast iron lantern which was removed from the tower on Seal Island in 1978.
From the third level, you can climb the iron stairs as the keepers did for 76 years and see the original clockwork mechanism and the only installed Fresnel lens in Nova Scotia.


Baccaro Lighthouse

 Perched at the edge of the ocean, this lighthouse is an important seabird watching site.
Located on the east side of Barrington Bay near Port La Tour, this small wooden lighthouse was built in 1934.  It replaced the original building, built in 1850, which was destroyed by fire.
Baccaro is the oldest place name in Nova Scotia. It comes from the Basque word, Baccolaos, cod-fish. Baccaro point is the most southerly point of mainland Nova Scotia. (Cape Sable off Cape Sable Island is the furthest south.) In 1852 the materials for the first lighthouse were hauled along the beach – there being no road. Today the tall, square building stands fast on its bed of solid rock.


Salvages Lighthouse

Valerie Boyd Photo

The Salvages is a group of ledges and rocks on the west side of Cape Negro Harbour.  In 1915 a diaphone was placed on the highest rock which gave three blasts every minute to warn seafarers.  In 1965 a white rectangular lighthouse was built standing at 53 feet high.  On a clear day the station can be seen from Baccaro Point.


Cape Negro Lighthouse

Dept of Fisheries & Oceans Photo

Located on the Southeastern end of the island, this structure is 91 feet tall with a light range of 16 miles.  Originally built in 1872, the current tower replaced it in 1915 and was automated in 1993.  Cape Negro was named on Champlain’s map of 1612.  In his book The Works of Samuel de Champlain, Volume 1, Champlain wrote “Proceeding along the coast we reached a very good port for vessels, and the head of which is a little river extending a good way inland.  I named this the harbour of Cape Negro, on account of a rock which from a distance looks like one…”


McNutts Lighthouse

Established in 1788 on McNutt’s Island in the mouth of Shelburne Harbour, Cape Roseway was the third lighthouse ever built in Canada.  It was built old world style with the cliff rocks it stands on.  The rock walls were 6 feet thick and was structured with oak beams.  In 1959 the lighthouse was struck by lightning and burned.  The rock slabs were cracked and were replaced by the current concrete tower.
The Present light is 111 feet above sea level.  Today the light is accessible by boat and a 2 mile road from the wharf.


Sandy Point Lighthouse

This attractive lighthouse, which originally was built on a pier, now sits on a crib at the east side of the entrance to Shelburne Harbour.  At low tide the tapered wooden tower is accessible across a sand bar.  There is a sandy beach, swimming, birding and a community hall where snacks may be available.  Many festivals and activities take place here in the summer, especially lobster dinners.
Gull Rock Lighthouse

Leona Ringer Photo

Established in 1853 this lighthouse is found at the entrance of Lockeport Harbour, on Gull Rock, an islet 15 feet high, situated about 1.2 miles east of Western Head on an extensive bank containing numerous dangers.   The original lighthouse was replaced in the 1950′s with a 39 foot tower.


Carter Island Lighthouse

Dept of Fisheries & Oceans Photo

Carter Island is situated about 0.4 miles north of Cranberry Island in the approach to Lockeport Inner Harbour.  A light is shown at an elevation of 49 feet from a white circular tower 30 feet high, with two red bands on Carter Island.
The original lighht was built in 1875 and replaced in 1930 and then again in 1989 by the present fibreglass lighthouse.

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