Cole Shoal Lighthouse near Brockville commemorated by provincial plaque

BROCKVILLE – Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley and its Five Mile Light Rebuild Committee unveiled a provincial plaque to commemorate Cole Shoal Lighthouse.

“The Trust is pleased to recognize Cole Shoal Lighthouse with a provincial plaque. For many years, the lighthouse was a significant part of the region’s marine history and cultural heritage landscape,” said John Ecker, Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust. “This lighthouse and the other eight along this part of the St. Lawrence played an important role in navigation. Thanks to the efforts of the community, residents and visitors will be able to experience this architectural landmark again through the replica created by the Five Mile Light Rebuild Committee, completed in 2020.”

The plaque reads as follows:

Cole Shoal Lighthouse (Five Mile Light)

Cole Shoal Lighthouse was constructed in 1856, one of nine nearly identically designed lighthouses on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River to aid in the navigation of merchant vessels and mark treacherous points throughout the Canadian Thousand Islands. This wooden, water-based light was the most eastern location of this network of nine lighthouses between Kingston and Prescott. The squat, tapered structure was able to withstand heavy winds due to its low centre of gravity and was the oldest surviving of the original nine, until it was destroyed by lightning in 2018. Over the years, four lighthouse keepers rowed twice daily from the shore to light and extinguish the lamp, until 1927 when it was decommissioned. Known as “Five Mile Light” due to its location five miles west of Brockville, the tower continues to serve as a landmark for boaters and serves as a reminder of the St. Lawrence’s heyday as a thriving transportation corridor. A replica built in 2020 now stands on the original site of Cole Shoal.

"It's wonderful to have the Ontario Heritage Trust, through the installation of a heritage plaque, recognize the historic importance of Cole Shoal Lighthouse, better known locally as Five Mile Light, one of the last examples of a mid-19th century square lighthouse,” said Bob Runciman, Chair of Five Mile Light Rebuild Committee. “We lost the original to fire, but fortunately, thanks to the generosity of 142 donors, its replica, built to historic standards, now proudly stands on Cole Shoal. It serves as an accurate, visual reminder of its predecessor, which will now be complimented by the provincial plaque describing the important role of river lighthouses in the development of our great country."

“For over 160 years, Five Mile Light was a fixture on the shores of the St. Lawrence – a beacon that symbolized Ontario’s industrial heritage,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Thanks to the hard work of the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley and the Five Mile Light Rebuild Committee, present and future generations of Ontarians will have the opportunity to see, visit and learn about a key piece of Ontario’s nautical transportation history, and the importance of the St. Lawrence River in building the Ontario we have today.”

Quick facts

  • The provincial plaque is permanently installed at 224 Hudson Point Road, Elizabethtown.
  • The plaque text is available in both English and French.
  • Since 1956, the Trust has unveiled 1,285 provincial plaques commemorating provincially significant people, places and events in Ontario’s history.

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Patricia Njovu, Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist, Ontario Heritage Trust., 437-248-1439

About the Ontario Heritage Trust

The Ontario Heritage Trust (the Trust) is an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. The Trust conserves, interprets and shares Ontario’s heritage. The Trust conserves provincially significant cultural and natural, tangible and intangible heritage, interprets Ontario’s history, celebrate its diversity and educates Ontarians of its importance in our society. The Trust envisions an Ontario where we conserve, value and share the places and landscapes, histories, traditions and stories that embody our heritage, now and for future generations.