At the end of the twentieth century and beyond

The 1990s saw a number of changes at the lighthouse. Point Atkinson Lighthouse was designated a National Historic Site in 1994. A few years later, however, the lighthouse was automated and light keepers were phased out. As well, Point Atkinson is part of the territory being negotiated in treaties between First Nations and local, provincial and federal governments to settle longstanding disagreements about land, resource, social, and citizenship rights. As well, the adjacent park has been a focus of community and municipal government attention as they negotiate plans for the ongoing care of the area around the Lighthouse.


Visitor book from 1986, when tours of the lighthouse were offered to visitors.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Lighthouse Park

The heritage assessment of the lighthouse notes Point Atkinson has become a popular tourist attraction due to its proximity to the major tourist destination of Vancouver and its accessibility. Don Graham describes it as follows: "The beacon at Point Atkinson is one of Canada's most familiar lighthouses. Its tower is synonymous with Vancouver for foreign seamen and residents alike. Balancing their tripods precariously upon the Lighthouse Viewpoint, or on rocks along the shore, photographers have, over a century, exposed miles of film to capture one of the country's most spectacular seascapes. The people of West Vancouver have a nearly mystical attachment to 'their' lighthouse, and to the 185 acre park around it which contains the last stand of virgin coastal timber to be found in that part of the province."

Point Atkinson on average receives at least 4,000 visitors a year (Don Graham, Keepers of the Light, 1985, p. 65).


This is the first page of the 1973 lease agreement.


Lighthouse Park is leased from the federal government by municipality of West Vancouver as a park. West Vancouver developed a long-term plan for the park in 2004 to manage the diverse uses of the park.


Map of Lighthouse Park from 1973 lease.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Phyl Munday Nature House and Native Plant Garden.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


The park is also used for school outings, summer day camp groups and the Girl Guides. The Guides have set up one of the former army barracks as a "Nature Hut" to present displays to educate young people about the flora and fauna of the southwest coast of British Columbia. The Phyl Munday Nature Hut is open to the public some Sundays and has a Native Plant Garden behind the building to provide examples of local flora.


The interior of the Phyl Munday Nature House
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Garden at Phyl Munday Nature House.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Courtesy of the Phyl Munday Nature House Committee.


Plaque indicating Point Atkinson Lighthouse is a National Historic Site.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


National Historic site

In 1994, Point Atkinson Lighthouse was declared a national historic site. The light tower was considered significant because it was the first building in the port and is a good example of buildings designed by William P. Anderson, the Chief Engineer at the Department of Marine. Anderson was known for talent in designing reinforced concrete buildings. Among its aesthetic qualities were "the incised lines of the ribbed buttresses [that] provide a clean and uncluttered look to these towers. Continued reliance on pure functionality suggests the ascendancy of new design influences at this time…echoing Le Corbusier's 'purist sensibility'" of modernism. In addition to its historic and aesthetic qualities, its accessibility to the public and prominent place at the entrance to the port of Vancouver made it important to Canada's heritage.


Inside of invitation to ceremony to designate Point Atkinson Lighthouse a National Historic Site.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


On September 18th, 1994, a ceremony was held to designate the Point Atkinson Lighthouse a National Historic Site. The ceremony included presentations by:
· Dr. Charles Humphries, BC Member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada,
· Mark Sager, Mayor of West Vancouver,
· Don Graham, Assistant Light Keeper at Point Atkinson,
· Bill Dancer, Director General of the Western Region of the Coast Guard,
· Bob Robertson, Director, BC District, Pacific and Yukon Region, Canadian Heritage, and,
· Anna Terrana, Member of Parliament for East Vancouver.