Ownership transfer clears way for restoration of Beach Canal Lighthouse

The Beach Canal Lighthouse will be moved about 60 metres, restored and opened to the public, now that ownership has been transferred to the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority. Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority

It’s a major victory for Hamilton heritage, and two decades of effort on the part of the volunteer-run Beach Canal Lighthouse Group.

The federal government confirmed Friday that it has transferred ownership of the defunct lighthouse and nearby keeper’s cottage from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), to the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA).

HOPA will now focus on restoring the heritage structures and opening them for public use.

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Ian Hamilton, the port authority’s president and CEO, notes that the 17-metre limestone tower and iron lantern were built in 1858 and operated until 1961.

“It’s important we celebrate and understand our maritime history, and think this is a wonderful way to start that with the interpretive centre and the various different learning opportunities that will come around with it,” said Hamilton.

The next step in the process, planned for later this year, is to move the lighthouse about 60 metres, where it will anchor Fisherman’s Pier, HOPA’s envisioned public green space under the skyway bridge.

Hamilton says the structure will be lifted as one piece and moved by some sort of trailer to a new location much more accessible to the public compared to where it’s located now.

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“You can get a lot better views of it when it moves away so you can see it against the harbour as opposed to the bridge behind it,” Hamilton told 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today.

The transition is expected to happen at some point in 2022 barring any engineering challenges with the move.

“Now, we get to move forward, to taking this really important heritage site and turning it into a public venue for people to enjoy, ” said Ian Kerr-Wilson, representing the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group at Friday’s announcement, “I’m really looking forward to what happens next.”

In addition to transferring ownership, DFO is providing funding of $275,000 towards the relocation of the lighthouse.

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The port authority and the city, through the Hamilton Future Fund, have also committed financial support to the project, including restoration of the structures.

In addition to the lighthouse restoration, HOPA’s plan for Fisherman’s Pier involves extending the greenspace from the canal to the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Eastport Drive, landscaping, paths and recreational amenities.

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