On today’s date in 1733, Canada’s first lighthouse, in Louisbourg, N.S., was lit for the first time.
Between 1731 and 1734, the French government built the stone tower, a circular structure 21 metres high. In 1758, British forces damaged the lighthouse, which eventually fell to ruin.
Today, all that’s left is an octagonal concrete lighthouse, built in 1923 and decorated with neoclassical architectural features. The lighthouse was destaffed in 1990. In 2008, after years of being enjoyed as a popular lookout spot, it became the starting point of a coastal walking trail.
In 1984, Canada Post featured the Louisbourg Lighthouse on a 32-cent stamp (Scott 1032) as part of its first Lighthouses of Canada series.
Designed by Ken Rodmell and based on a painting by Dennis Noble, the stamp marked the 250th anniversary of the completion of Canada’s first lighthouse. Aston-Potter printed the stamp on Harrison and Sons paper. To illustrate these stamps, Noble, a Toronto-based artist, provided paintings of the four lighthouses as they may have originally looked.
The series also included the oldest lighthouses on the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and both the east and west coasts. The first lighthouse built on Canadian shores, Louisbourg was situated at the entrance to the harbour of the Fortress of Louisbourg on Canada’s east coast.