There’s something so enchanting about lighthouses, guiding travellers and merchants along their journeys for thousands upon thousands of years. The first (known) lighthouse dates back to Ancient Egypt, which was said to have stood over 100 metres high. While the first lighthouse to be built in Canada wouldn’t follow until the mid-1700’s, hundreds would follow throughout the country over the years, many of which are still standing to this day. Vancouver Island is home to the oldest lighthouse on the west coast, as well as first lighthouse in Canada to be managed by a woman, and more than a dozen others that are still active today, all of which contribute to the rich history of the Island.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site

Built in 1860, Fisgard Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the west coast, situated at the entrance of Esquimalt Harbour on the grounds of Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site. Although now automated, the lighthouse is still operational, shining its light out over passing ships on the Juan de Fuca Strait. Due to its significance, the lighthouse and surrounding grounds were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1958, and the keeper’s house now operates as a museum. Inside the building, equipment and information about shipwrecks, storms, and the day-to-day operations of days past are showcased, while the grounds boast breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State.

Discovery Island

Floating off of Vancouver Island just west of the Canada/​US Border is Discovery Island. On the east side of the island, atop Pandora Hill stands the island’s lighthouse, which was erected in 1886, and originally manned by Richard Brinn and his daughter, Mary Ann Croft. Following her father’s death in the early 1900’s, Mary Ann Croft would become the first female lighthouse keeper in Canada, a position that she would hold until her retirement in 1932. Although the life of a lighthouse keeper may sound relatively quiet and unexciting, Mary Ann Croft challenged the status quo and fought for – and received – equal pay for equal work” in 1911, and was rumoured to have been dubbed Queen of the Rum Runners” during prohibition, for her assistance in relaying messages back and forth between rum runners.

Ogden Point Breakwater Lighthouse

The passing cruise ships on the Juan de Fuca Strait making their way in and out of the Victoria Harbour aren’t the only thing that will catch the eye at Ogden Point. Along the side of the breakwater walkway that leads to the lighthouse are colourful murals and works of art that can be enjoyed from the concrete rocks, where visitors can walk to get a closer look at some of the wildlife, including birds and playful seals, that often frequent the area. Just a short way from Victoria’s colourful Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood and the vibrant downtown, the lighthouse at this site was originally constructed in 1916, and remains active today. Although the lighthouse is not open to visitors, the lookout point at the base of the tower offers incredible views of mountains in the distance and is a popular spot to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the breakwater.

Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Sheringham Point Lighthouse, on the south coast of Vancouver Island in Shirley, BC, was built in 1912 in response to numerous shipwrecks and tragedies that resulted in this area being referred to as Graveyard of the Pacific”. Trails in the area were originally formed to help shipwrecked sailors make their way to safety and are now traversed by hikers, ornithologists, and nature enthusiasts. A relatively easy walk, the Sheringham Lighthouse View Trail Loop, guides visitors through the area surrounding the lighthouse and down to the base of the tower, for incomparable views of the Salish Sea. The lighthouse remains active and an important part of the community’s history and, for this reason, the Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in 2003 to help protect the lighthouse and surrounding area, for future generations to enjoy.

Amphitrite Point Lighthouse

The only active lighthouse accessible by car in the Tofino-Ucluelet area, the current Amphitrite Point Lighthouse was built in 1915 and named for Poseidon’s wife, the Queen of the Sea. The original tower was built in 1906 and replaced a decade later with a sturdier structure that would better stand up to storms that battered the coast. The Lighthouse Loop of the Wild Pacific Trail allows visitors to walk up to the lighthouse and along the coastline to take in the expansive views of the North Pacific Ocean. Although the walk is just a short 2.6 kilometre loop, plan for extra time to stop and sightsee from various lookout points along the way.

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