East Ironbound Island Lighthouse

East Ironbound is a Coastal Light, built to guide coastal shipping and fishing boats along the South Shore. It marks the entrance to Mahone Bay, a popular cruising destination.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Dan Conlin and Kathy Brown
Photo - © Kathy Brown, East Ironbound Island Lighthouse, 2004

Early History

East Ironbound Island wharf and cove, 2004, with the lighttower appearing above the trees.
The white-painted rocks help boats pick out the breakwater when visibility is poor.
The first lighthouse, built in 1867, was a simple square wooden building located at the south-east end of the island, with two lights, one twenty-five feet above the other. It was destroyed by lightning on January 3, 1870.

The second and current lighthouse was built in 1870 and is a square wooden tower with an attached dwelling. It is sited on the highest point of the Island, with an the extra-high tower of 14.02 meters (46 feet).

This is one of the last surviving lighthouses in Nova Scotia with an attached keeper's dwelling, a design greatly favoured by the newly created Canadian lighthouse service after Confederation in 1867. The standard Department of Marine 1870 design was modified for this island by an extra-high tower because the adjacent landowner did not want to cut down his trees. This fifth-oldest surviving lighthouse in Nova Scotia marked an extension of the coastal lighthouse network along Nova Scotia's south shore to guide shipping between the major landfall lights of Sambro and Cape Sable.

Later History

The lighthouse was the location of an early and unsuccessful experiment in automation. In 1928 the keeper was replaced by an automated acetylene lantern. The keeper was returned in 1930.

Most of East Ironbound Island is privately now privately owned. This lightstation is intact, complete with out- buildings, and is one of the best kept in the province.

The island has important literary association with the novel Rockbound by Frank Parker Day. His fictional depiction of island life was inspired by his stay on East Ironbound. The book was controversial when published in 1928 but it has remained in print and won the CBC "Canada Reads Award" in 2005.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Dan Conlin and Kathy Brown
Photo - © Kathy Brown, East Ironbound Island Lightstation, 2004



  • Location: Center of island, entrance to Mahone Bay
  • Standing: This light is no longer standing.
  • Operating: This light is no longer operating.
  • Began: 1867
  • Year Lit: 1867
  • Structure Type: Tower

History Items for This Lighthouse

  • 1870 - Jan - struck by lightning, burnt


  • Location: Center of island, entrance to Mahone Bay
  • Standing: This light is still standing.
  • Operating: This light is operational
  • Automated: All operating lights in Nova Scotia are automated.
  • Date Automated: Automated by 1990
  • Began: 1870
  • Year Lit: 1870
  • Structure Type: Square wood tower on oblong dwelling, white
  • Light Characteristic: Isophasic White (1990)
  • Tower Height: 040ft feet high.
  • Light Height: 146ft feet above water level.

History Items for This Lighthouse

  • 1870 - replaced original tower of 1867 - 1883 - dioptric lens
  • 1922 - 1943 - 4th order dioptric lens, fixed white, 16m, 46ft, 150ft, fog horn
  • 1960 - 1965 - listed at 46ft, hand fog horn in answer to vessels
  • 1990 - listed at 36ft, isophasic white (6s), electric lantern, fog horn

Lightkeepers for East Ironbound Island Lighthouse

  • Wolfe, Mr. XX1880XX
  • Finck, Mr. 1930-19XX
  • Finck, Paul 19XX-1990


  • County: Lunenburg
  • Region: South Shore
  • Body of Water: Mahone Bay
  • Scenic Drive: Lighthouse Route
  • Site Access: By Boat
  • Characteristic: Isophasic White (1990)
  • Tower Height: 040 ft
  • Height Above Water: 146 ft
  • Latitude: 44~26~22.4
  • Longitude: 64~04~59.7
  • Off Shore: Yes
  • Still Standing: Yes
  • Still Operating: No

Contact NSLPS


C/O Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
1675 Lower Water Street
Halifax NS, Canada B3J 1S3