Centre Island is a popular destination during Toronto’s summers but did you know it’s also home to one of Toronto’s oldest landmarks? Gibraltar Point Lighthouse has been around since the 1800s and if you make a trip to the Toronto Islands you can still check it out today.

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gibraltar point lighthous
Image via Toronto Public Library

The location for Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was picked by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793.

Simcoe chose to make Toronto, then known as York, the military centre of Upper Canada (southern Ontario) and named the tip of Centre Island “Gibraltar Point”.

In his eyes, adding a blockhouse there, combined with Fork York on the opposite side of the water, would make York “impregnable like the Rock of Gibraltar.”

In 1803, the Upper Canada Legislature passed an act to establish lighthouses at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Gibraltar (Toronto) and Isle de Forest (Kingston) with the completion of Gibraltar Point Lighthouse happening in 1808.

The original lighthouse was 52 feet high, including the lantern.

Several changes were made throughout the 19th century. In 1832, the lighthouse was raised to 64 feet of stonework.

In 1878, the lantern structure was replaced with steel and a lightning rod was placed on top of the tower which was pretty good timing as the lighthouse was struck by lightning in 1879. Without the rod, the tower may not be here today!

More changes took place in the 20th century including May 23, 1958, when the lighthouse operation was given to the Municipality of the Metropolitan Toronto Parks department who made slight modifications to it in 1961 and 1962.

Toronto Public Library states that the landmark is also rumoured to be haunted.

According to TPL, “A party of soldiers visited their friend, the first lighthouse keeper John Paul Radelmüller in 1815. When the lighthouse keeper saw his guests were becoming too drunk, he refused to produce more liquor. The enraged soldiers beat Radelmüller to death and escape along Blockhouse Bay. His body was allegedly cut into pieces and buried around the islands.”

Visitors believe that Radelmüller still haunts the area to the day.

Want to check it out for yourself? You will have to take the ferry from the Mainland Ferry Docks in Toronto to Centre Island.

Once at Centre Island, Follow Avenue Of the Islands south to Lakeshore Road and you’ll find it about a 2 KM walk from the ferry station to the lighthouse.

Check it out and don’t forget to snap some photos!

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Where: Centre Island, Toronto, ON