Once European settlements were established in Northeastern Canada, ships transporting goods needed to be safely guided along the rocky coasts of Newfoundland & Labrador. So the province is home to many historic lighthouses that enrich the character and the coastal landscape of this pristine region, providing glimpses of its seafaring past. In a Discovery Tours small group, you’ll visit these national treasures, listed here by order of their appearance on the coast.
Cape Spear, Newfoundland (1836). Perched on a hill overlooking St. John’s harbor at the easternmost point of Canada, Cape Spear was the second lighthouse to be built on the island but is the oldest surviving one. During World War II, a gun battery was installed on the site to defend the harbor. Barracks were added for troops. Cape Spear National Historic Park was opened to great fanfare by Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1983.
Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland (1843). Marking the entrances to Bonavista and Trinity Bays, this historic lighthouse is the fourth-oldest in Newfoundland. Its original lamps and reflectors were shipped here from Scotland. It operated for about 120 years until an electric light on a nearby skeleton tower was illuminated to serve the same purpose. Today, Cape Bonavista Lighthouse is a museum with period furnishings and whaling and ecological exhibits, and still boasts the vertical red and white stripes of the island’s original lighthouses.
Point Amour, Labrador (1857). The tallest in Atlantic Canada and the second tallest in the entire country, Point Amour Lighthouse was built of limestone from local quarries at a time when steamships sailed through the Strait of Belle Isle, the stretch of sea that separates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador. The cylindrical tower is a Provincial Historic Site and was one of a series of “Imperial Towers,” so named as they were financed by the British Empire.
Lobster Cove Head, Newfoundland (1898). Before construction of the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse in Bonne Bay, a simple oil lamp burned in the private home of G.C. Fearn to alert ships to the perils of the rocky coast. The townspeople, convinced that a stronger light was needed, got together to arrange for this iron tower to be built. Signal flags were also used here to convey messages between ships and the shore.
Fox Point, Newfoundland (1906). This charming square tower on a rocky promontory is quite modern, completed in 2003. When a light was originally placed here, in 1906, it was a round iron tower just a couple stories tall. It was replaced by another around 1960, at which point the first tower was lowered down the cliff face, presumably to be disposed of in the sea. The structure jammed in a crevice until the continual lash of waves washed it away.
Cow Head, Newfoundland (1909). The Cow Head Peninsula was long a summer destination for families, but not for vacationing. Before roadways were modernized, many Newfoundlanders lived on the ocean in warm months and sheltered themselves inland during winter so they had easier access to fishing in summer. When the Cow Head Lighthouse was completed, it became a gathering place where locals enjoyed picnic lunches and gazed out to sea.