The National Trust Responds to Federal Government’s Designation of Historic Lighthouses

The National Trust for Canada is pleased to see the federal government’s (Environment Canada) announcement that 74 as yet unnamed lighthouses will be added to the 16 already designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The future of the 258 other lighthouses petitioned for designation by Canadians remains unknown.

The Act—created in 2008 to protect and conserve heritage lighthouses in Canada—requires the minister responsible for Parks Canada to make public the number of petitioned lighthouses considered worthy of heritage designation.  

On May 25, 2015 Nova Scotia MP Scott Armstrong reported in the House of Commons that of the 74 lighthouses granted heritage status today, 42 are active lighthouses that will remain in the hands of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), while 32 have been declared “surplus” and will be transferred to community groups.  

Shortly after the Act was passed, DFO used a provision in the Act to prevent designation of any lighthouses it deemed “surplus” (almost all of them) without a business plan from a willing new owner and a commitment to take the lighthouse over. By declaring over 450 of its lighthouses surplus, it effectively shifted the financial responsibility for their protection onto local communities. 

“It is disconcerting to see the low number of lighthouses in today’s announcement, but we hope that many more of the 258 treasured landmarks and icons of Canada’s Maritime history will be designated in the coming months,” said National Trust Executive Director Natalie Bull. “We believe the scarcity of heritage funding is a huge impediment, and we encourage the federal government and others to provide financial support to coastal community groups willing to maintain these lighthouses.”

For further information on Canada’s heritage lighthouses, please visit