The Island Lighthouse is the oldest landmark in Toronto. From its site on Gibraltar Point, it has watched most of Toronto's history unfold. For over 150 years its light beam has been a welcome guide into the Harbour of Toronto for mariners.
At a very early date it was realized that a lighthouse on the peninsula (now Toronto Island) was essential to the safety of the vessels sailing Lake Ontario. In March, 1803, the following Act was passed: Section 7 - "and whereas it will be necessary and essential to the safety of vessels, boats, rafts and other craft passing from Lake Ontario into the River Niagara and passing by the island called Isle Forest and likewise into the port of York that there should be a lighthouse erected near each of the said last mentioned places.... One to be erected and build upon the.... and the other upon Gibraltar Point."
There appears to be no direct evidence of the date that the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was started, but in 1808 the Upper Canada Gazette reported that: It is a pleasure to inform the public that the dangers to vessels navigating Lake Ontario will in a great measure be avoided by the erection of a lighthouse on Gibraltar Point which is to be completed in compliance with an address in the House of Assembly to the Lieutenant Governor." The address referred was dated March 9, 1808, and on April 6th the Lieutenant Governor visited the peninsula and chose a site for the lighthouse.
The mystery of Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Like most other historical buildings, the lighthouse has had its days of tragedy, giving rise to tales of the macabre. January 2nd, 1815 was such a day. On this day the lighthouse keeper, Radan Muller, died in circumstances which left two forever unanswered questions - how did he die, and by whose hands?
- J.P. Radan Muller 1809-1815
- William Halloway 1816-1831
- James Durnan 1832-1853
- George Durnan 1853-1908
- 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