Hamilton harbour lighthouse back in local hands, will be moved to allow public access

The ownership of the beach canal lighthouse will be transferred to the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority from the federal government, CEO Ian Hamilton announced Friday. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada to contribute $275,000 to help restore the heritage site

The lighthouse is visible from the Burlington Canal lift bridge. (Google Maps)

Hamilton's beach canal lighthouse is making big moves. 

The ownership of the light station will be transferred to the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) from the federal government, CEO Ian Hamilton announced Friday. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will transfer the lighthouse and the nearby keeper's cottage to the local agency and will contribute $275,000 to help move the lighthouse 60 meters west, in order to align with the canal, and to restore it. 

The move will mark the beginning of a larger restoration project of the Fisherman's Pier, where the lighthouse is located, at the entrance to Hamilton Harbour. 

Hamilton said that community members in Hamilton and Burlington have greatly supported the project and that the restoration would help make the landmarks accessible to the public. 

The beach canal lighthouse has stood on Hamilton's beach strip since 1858. (Beach Canal Lighthouse Group)

Burlington Member of Parliament Karina Gould joined Hamilton, Mayor Fred Eisenberger and others for the announcement Friday, saying that public access to the heritage site will help promote maritime history and will ensure that "the living port that we have continues to serve our communities." 

She said it will also improve facilities for anglers. 

A vital aspect of the project is that it will bridge both Hamilton and Burlington together, according to Ian Kerr Wilson, chair of the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group (BCLG). 

"What I think is the real significance of the site is that it is a tangible link between the two communities," he said.

Eisenberger echoed a similar notion, mentioning the importance of accessing the water. 

"It's the water that everyone wants to get access to," he said, "and this lighthouse element is a great testament to how we continue to advocate and work toward those objectives." 

A piece of history 

The lighthouse is a 17-metre (55-foot) limestone tower, built in 1858. It functioned until 1961. Until now, Fisheries and Oceans Canada owned the lighthouse and Public Services and Procurement Canada owned the property. The lighthouse will be moved nearby, onto HOPA property, to "facilitate public access," the media release said. 

Originally, the canal was proposed to be a waterway that would allow sea traffic from the Atlantic into Lake Erie. Residents were supportive in order to link the bay to Lake Ontario. 

Hamilton said the relocation will allow people "to visit and to learn the earliest days of marine shipping in Hamilton Harbour.

"At HOPA it is important to us that people in our cities are connected to the role that the Great Lakes play in our lives and livelihoods, and that's what this project is all about," he said. 


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