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Shining a light on the past – Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse

March 2020

For centuries, going back to the days of ancient Rome, lighthouses have lined shorelines around the world to serve as a navigational aid and to warn boats of dangerous areas; like a traffic sign on the sea.

The Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse is a wooden, 36-foot octagonal lighthouse, sitting on a small plot of land on Fleet Street, just east of the Princes’ Gates at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

The three-story lighthouse, which was built in 1861 near the present-day intersection of Lakeshore Road West and Bathurst Street, and projected a red light, was paired with a second, larger white light lighthouse, and marked the western entrance to the Toronto harbour.

It was a replacement for one two previous lighthouses that had occupied the location since 1838.

In 1912, the opening of the new western channel made the 51-year old Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse unnecessary and it was deactivated, along with the white light lighthouse, which was later demolished.

The Queens’ Wharf Lighthouse was spared demolition but by 1925, it was no longer on the waterfront. Landfilling by the three major railway companies in Toronto to create land for their yards and harbour facilities, leaving the lighthouse around 1400 feet away from the water’s edge.

Four years later, the Toronto Harbour Commission moved the lighthouse around 1400 feet west to its present location and ownership was transferred to the City of Toronto.

Today, the Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse is just one of two lighthouses that remain in Toronto; the other being the stone Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island.

The lighthouse was added to the Toronto Heritage Register on 20 June 20 1973. Although the Historical Board of Toronto did some restoration work on the lighthouse in 1988, the light was not reactivated.

Sources: https://lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=1064, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen%27s_Wharf_Lighthouse

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/shining-a-light-on-the-past-queens-wharf-lighthouse/

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