The Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse is located between Fleet St and Lake Shore Blvd W (west of Bathurst St) in Toronto.
In 1837, for ease of unloading supplies heading to Fort York, the British Parliament granted funds for a wharf to be built at the foot of Bathurst St. Known as Queen’s Wharf, it was completed in 1838 and had a small lighthouse. At that time, the western entrance of the harbour was the only channel entering or exiting Toronto’s harbour (the Eastern Gap did not exist until 1858).
Little Red & the Wharf
In 1861, the original lighthouse was replaced with “Little Red” or the Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse. Little Red had a fog bell and projected a red light and worked in conjunction with a second lighthouse that projected a white light. When the red lantern was aligned with the white range light, that indicated to the vessels the approach to the harbour. Little Red and the keeper’s house which stood beside it on the wharf, was designed by architect Kivas Tully. Little Red is a wooden structure and while square, it has trimmed corners giving it an octagonal shape.
With their red and white beacons, the lighthouses helped navigate more than 300,000 vessels into the harbour’s west entrance, past the sand spit and into Toronto’s port. At the time, their lamps were fueled by whale oil.
The lighthouses were in service until 1911. They were no longer needed as the new western channel into the harbour was completed. In 1918, the white range lighthouse was destroyed by fire.
The Relocation of Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse
For several years, Toronto’s waterfront had been undergoing lake-filling. In 1929, to save Little Red from demolition during the lake-filling, it was moved using wooden rollers and pulled to where it stands today – about 450 m west of the original foot of Bathurst St.
Little Red received heritage status in 1973. The lighthouse underwent a restoration in 1988 and today, the lighthouse is medium brown in colour with a red top.
Did you know?
Queen’s Wharf was originally going to be called Government Wharf or King’s Wharf but because Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, the name was changed.