Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia


448 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55046-399-3
DDC 386'.8550977




Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.


With the publication of this, their third work on the subject, the
husband and wife Wright team are well established as the popular voice
of Ontario lighthouse legend and lore. This encyclopedia is an
organized, systematic look at every known lighthouse on the
shores—Canadian and American—of the five Great Lakes: Ontario, Erie,
Michigan, Superior, and Huron/Georgian Bay. It covers 650 lighthouses as
well as all types of lights—those used to indicate landfall, warnings,
and markers; lightships; pier headlights; range lights; and the more
traditional beacons.

For nearly every lighthouse there’s a colour photo, an essay, and
frequently, an archival view. The photos are well composed, descriptive,
and professional, if not particularly artistic. They do a workmanlike
job of illustration and on occasion also capture the beauty of the
setting or structure.

The text on the individual lighthouses ranges from a few lines to a few
pages, with most coming in around the 400- to 500-word mark. Content
covers location, architectural design, construction, material, dates,
type of illumination, purpose, features (e.g., fog horns), measurements,
history, and the names of lighthouse keepers, when known. Wright uses
the material discovered by her research to supplement basic descriptions
with accounts of heroic rescues performed by lighthouse keepers and the
details of everyday life at remote, isolated lights.

The organization of the work includes colour-coded sections for the
Canadian and American sides of each lake, tables assigning a number to
each site, and an extensive index.

Lighthouse preservation is growing in popularity as a subgroup of local
history. Regardless of their location, practitioners will value this
work for the massive amount of information it contains on the subject in
general. It also has considerable value as a consolidation of material
specific to the Great Lakes area, and will be welcomed as a useful
reference work.


Wright, Larry, and Patricia Wright., “Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,