Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

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The lighthouse in April 2009.
An 1808 sketch of the lighthouse.

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse located on the Toronto Islands in Toronto, Ontario. Completed in 1808, it is the oldest existing lighthouse on the Great Lakes.[1]


Construction was started in 1803 and it started operating in 1808. It was built to a height of 52 feet and extended to 82 feet in 1832. The diameter ranges from ~7 m at the base to ~2.1 m at the top. The base is made from stone quarried in Queenston and the extension from Kingston stone.

The tower initially used sperm oil from 1832 and switched to coal in 1863. The original lamp structure was wood and replaced with steel in 1878. An electric light was installed in 1916-17 and updated in 1945. In 1958 Metro Parks took over operations and made renovations in 1961-62.

It once stood on the shore but over time sand has built up in front of it so that it now stands about 100 m inland. It is currently unused and shut. It stands as a testament to Toronto's history as a Great Lakes port.

Alternate view.


Local legend purports the lighthouse tower to be haunted. On January 2, 1815 the first keeper, John Paul Radelmüller was murdered.[2] It was thought to have been drunken soldiers from Fort York who were looking for bootlegged beer. They chased him up the stairs and knocked him unconscious. They chopped up the body and buried him. Two soldiers, John Henry and John Blowman, were charged with his murder but later acquitted.[2] In 1893, George Durnan found a coffin buried in the sand nearby that contained a jawbone. It wasn't clear whether this belonged to Radelmüller. Some claim that the sound of moaning can be heard on misty nights and that it is possible to see an apparition wandering the grounds that is believed to be Radelmüller.[citation needed]


  • John Paul Radelmüller 1809-1815
  • William Halloway 1816-1831
  • James Durnan 1832-1854
  • George Durnan 1854-1908
  • Captain P.J. McSherry 1905-1912
  • B. Matthews 1912-1917
  • G.F. Eaton 1917-1918
  • F.C. Allan 1918-1944
  • Mrs. Ladder 1944-1955
  • Mrs. Dodds 1955-1958


Since the decommissioning of the lighthouse, smaller automated lighthouses (two located at Humber Bay Park in the west and Bluffer's Park to the east), Toronto Harbour Light, as well as floating bell or light buoys, navigational masts have been used to replace the lighthouse to provide navigational aid along Toronto's waterfront and Toronto Harbour.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gibraltar Point Light". Lighthouses of The Great Lakes. 
  2. ^ a b Butts, Edward (2011). Murder: Twelve True Stories of Homicide in Canada. Canada: Dundurn Group Ltd. p. 223. ISBN 1554887623. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Crompton, Samuel Willard & Michael J. Rhein. The Ultimate Book of Lighthouses (2002) ISBN 1-59223-102-0; ISBN 978-1-59223-102-7.
  • Jones, Ray, & Roberts, Bruce (Photographer). Eastern Great Lakes Lighthouses (Lighthouse Series) (Paperback) (Old Saybrook, CN: The Globe Pequot Press) ISBN 1-56440-899-X.
  • Jones, Ray.The Lighthouse Encyclopedia, The Definitive Reference (Globe Pequot, January 1, 2004, 1st ed.) ISBN 0-7627-2735-7; ISBN 978-0-7627-2735-3.
  • Oleszewski, Wes. Great Lakes Lighthouses, American and Canadian: A Comprehensive Directory/Guide to Great Lakes Lighthouses, (Gwinn, Michigan: Avery Color Studios, Inc., 1998) ISBN 0-932212-98-0.
  • Penrose, Laurie & Penrose, Bill T., (1994-05) A Traveler's Guide to 100 Eastern Great Lakes: Lighthouses (Paperback), Friede Publications, 125 pages ISBN 0-923756-09-4.
  • Wright, Larry and Wright, Patricia. Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia Hardback (Erin: Boston Mills Press, 2006) ISBN 1-55046-399-3

External links[edit]

Media related to Gibraltar Point Lighthouse at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 43°36′49.2″N 79°23′07″W / 43.613667°N 79.38528°W / 43.613667; -79.38528