Sambro Island Lighthouse A Community for Activism

Sambro Island Lighthouse

Halifax, NS

In 2015, THA was retained by Public Works and Government Services Canada to act as Architects of Record and Heritage Consultant for the preservation of Sambro Island Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Canada. This project community-driven project has had an important and transformative effect on the economy, education, and the people who are keepers of the living history of the region.

THA’s work included careful analysis of the building to identify the age and significance of the structures, materials, assemblies and finishes. A key aspect of the work involved analysis of the exterior cladding and interior environment as an open shaft having changed from an occupied and finely tuned instrument to an abandoned form lacking in ventilation and without a heat source at the top to drive air movement.

Through this detailed examination we were able to understand the nature and location of missing elements, their construction, finishes and detailing in each of the construction periods. We were also able to reinterpret the structure so as to enable it to self-ventilate the exterior cladding and interior shaft using a combination of prevailing winds and thermal gain.

The spiral stair and mast structure were conserved and restored as were the windows and white cedar shingles. Masonry was conserved using lime-based mortar that exactly matched the 18th century mortar. Extensive concrete repairs were conducted on the 1950s base collar and the 1906 lantern gallery. Severely deteriorated steel was conserved, as was the 1960s aluminum and glass lantern.

All aspects of the work were made even more challenging and memorable because of the unusual and always exciting site conditions.