Lightstations of Newfoundland and Labrador

History

Point Amour coastal lightstation
Point Amour

Most coastal residents have heard the somber cry of a foghorn or seen the sweep of lantern light stretching from a lightstation along their coasts. In Newfoundland and Labrador these symbols are embedded in our history and heritage.

Lightstations were established in this province during the early 1800s to provide a beacon to mariners at sea and in some cases, to provide a communications link between ships and shore. Over the last century, these basic services were modernized and enhanced. Today, all lightstations are equipped with modern, solarized equipment that requires minimum human intervention.


Lightkeepers

In the past, lightkeepers worked in isolated areas, battling harsh weather conditions to provide safe guidance to mariners. Peace and seclusion was tempered by a severe maritime climate, and limited resources of food and heating fuel, which had to be delivered during summer months and hoisted up over rugged cliffs. Semi-detached lighthouses sheltered lightkeepers, their assistants, and their respective families. Today, most lightkeepers live in neighboring communities and commute to work. Their duties include regularly inspecting navigational aids (main light, foghorn) and buildings on site. When they are not logging daily weather conditions or reporting the status of ice floes, lightkeepers are scanning surrounding waters for flares, boats in trouble or other unusual sights.

Eastern Region - Cape Race

Cape Race coastal view
Cape Race

Cape Race was deemed a national historic site because of its important role in wireless communication and international navigation. It was the first landfall for ships sailing from Europe to destinations in North America. Built in 1856, the light tower contains a rare 20 ton hyper-radial lens that can be seen for 24 nautical miles, making the Cape Race light one of the most powerful in the world. The 2.3 metre high light floats in a half-ton mercury bath and is the only hyper-radial lens in North America.

Cape Race is home of the Marconi Wireless Station where wireless operators heard and relayed Titanic's distress signals as it went down less than 400 miles away. Both Marconi Station and lightkeeper's residence are open for viewing.

Other lightstations of interest in the Avalon and Eastern Regions:
Bell Island, Fort Amherst, Powles Head, St. Shotts, Cape St. Mary's, Tides Cove Point, Lamaline (Allan's Island), Green Island (F.B.), Fortune Head, Green Island (T.B.), Cape Bonavista, Fort Point

Western Region - Cape Anguille

Cape Anguille lighthouse
Cape Anguille

Set against a spectacular mountain backdrop and lush green grass, Cape Anguille boasts stunning views from its many trails.

Cape Anguille was built on the most Westerly point of Newfoundland, near the town of Codroy, following a marine disaster in 1905. It provided marine navigation for steamships traveling along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and up the Strait of Belle Isle.

The lighthouse, a quaint red and white duplex, was recently transformed into the Lighthouse Inn.

Other lightstations of interest in the Western Region:
Cape Ray, Rose Blanche, New Ferolle Peninsula, Point Amour, Red Bay, Fox Point, Lobster Cove Head, Pointe Riche, Keppel Island

Central Region - Long Point Twillingate

Long Point, Twillingate lighthouse
Long Point, Twillingate

Built in 1876, Long Point lightstation is situated atop of a cliff called Devil's Cove Head in Notre Dame Bay (a.k.a. Iceberg Alley).

The 8.8 metre high tower was originally constructed with brick but was encased with concrete after a 1929 earthquake threatened its stability. The aero-beacon style lens can be seen from 22 nautical miles.

An enclosed passageway connects the lightkeeper's house, fog horn building and light tower. One of the original dwellings was converted into a craft store, coffee shop and interpretation centre. Interpretive signage, boardwalks, and viewing platforms overlook the steep cliffs and volcanic rocks.

Other lightstations in the Central Region:
Northwest Head (Ramea), Puffin Island, Pass Island

Lightstations of Newfoundland and Labrador

Ferryland Head lightstation
Ferryland Head

Newfoundland and Labrador has 55 major lightstations, 23 are staffed.

Lightstations are an important part of our marine culture and heritage that must be preserved and protected. Canadian Coast Guard is working with the Lighthouse Society of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Canadian Coast Guard Alumni to maintain these lights so that the general public can continue to learn from their enduring legacy.

Please note, The Lobster Cove Head, Pointe Riche, Ferryland Head and Rose Blanche lightstations are not considered major lightstations thus are not counted in the 55 above. However, the are still historically significant and should be mentioned.


Location of Lightstations of Newfoundland and Labrador

Unstaffed Lightstations

  • Camp Island
  • Point Amour
  • Pointe Riche
  • Keppel Island
  • Lobster Cove Head
  • Devil Head
  • Channel Head
  • Colombier Island
  • Cain’s Island
  • Rose Blanche
  • Boar Island
  • Harbour Island (Penguin Island West)
  • West Point (Francois)
  • Dawson Point
  • St. Jacques Island
  • Middle Head
  • Little Burin Island
  • Pointe Verde
  • La Haye Point
  • Cape Pine
  • Bear cove Point
  • Ferryland Head
  • Cape Spear
  • Cape St Francis
  • Horse Chops
  • Cabot Island
  • Peckford Island
  • Burnt Point
  • Bacalhao Island
  • Surgeon Cove Point
  • Gull Island
  • Cape Bauld
  • Belle Isle South End
  • Belle Isle North End
  • Marticot Island
  • Baccalieu Island

Staffed Lightstations

  • Red Bay
  • New Ferolle Peninsula
  • Cap Anguille
  • Cape Ray
  • Northwest Head (Ramea)
  • Pass Island
  • Fortune head
  • Green Island(F.B.)
  • Lamaline (Allan’s Island)
  • Tides Cove Point
  • Cap St.Mary’s
  • St Shotts
  • Powles Head
  • Cape Race
  • Fort Amherst
  • Bell Island
  • Fort Point
  • Green Island (TB)
  • Cape Bonavista
  • Puffin Island
  • Long Point
  • Fox Point
  • Cape Norman

This document is also available for download or viewing as a
Lightstations in Newfoundland and Labrador [PDF - 6144 KB]

Published and produced by:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Communications Branch
P.O. Box 5667
St. John's, NL A1C 5X1

©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada
2005
DFO/2005-167
Catalogue Number: Fs23-459/2005E
ISBN: 0-662-39626-X