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Lighthouses of Newfoundland and Labrador

When you’re blessed with over 29,000 kilometres of coastline that twist and turn in every way imaginable, as well as rocks that protrude through the surface of the shore in the most precarious of positions – it makes sense that you may need some way of navigating vessels through what can sometimes be a labyrinth of stone.

Lighthouses have been part of that navigation for centuries. They’ve stood here long before the advent of GPS, the coast guard, or even the put-putting of a motorboat.

In many cases, they were painted either plain white or candy-striped so as to stand out, making them easier for sailors to spot from a distance. As a kid I remember thinking they looked like giant barbershop poles, minus the twisting of course.


Cape Race Lighthouse

The first lighthouse was erected in Fort Amherst in 1813. It stands tall at the south side of the Narrows, the entrance to St. John’s Harbour. I was born and raised here, and I only ventured out there for the first time last year. There are a series of trails (part of our East Coast Trail system) that rise above the lighthouse as well to give you a view you won’t forget of one of the oldest cities in North America.


View of Fort Amherst from Signal Hill

Fort Amherst was just the beginning. Shortly after, lighthouses began popping up everywhere. I guess one could say they were “trending”. From Cape Spear to Battle Harbour, these beacons of light were the new fad – like the hoola-hoop or the slinky. Well, maybe not like the hoola-hoop or the slinky, but they were certainly popular.


Cape Spear Lighthouse, National Historic Site

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Fort Amherst you’ll find Cape Spear. The most easterly point in North America. That lighthouse was featured in one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s television commercials. I’ll go grab a cup of tea while you watch.

Beautiful, isn’t it? I just realized something — if Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America, then it stands to reason that the lighthouse that stands on top of it is the most easterly too. That’s a fun fact I never thought about before.

Do you like picnics? The Ferryland Lighthouse is the perfect setting for a picnic. Enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the ocean while chowing down on a slice of peach shortcake and slurping back an ice-cold lemonade. Just thinking about it makes me want to jump in my car and go (I’m a fan of the peach shortcake).

Over the years, with the advent of modern technological advances, the ingenious spirit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians began to shine through. Pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist – not my best effort.

Recently, people began to view lighthouses as destinations. Becoming drawn to the history and romance of these structures.

The Coffee Cove Seaside Retreat rests in a community that has a population of 12 people. Imagine waking up, high atop a cliff, and greeting the day to the sights and sounds of the Atlantic Ocean rolling against the shoreline. Makes me want to stop writing this blog and go.

But alas, I will continue. Perhaps I’ll make some time this summer.

Then there are places like L’Anse Amour, on Labrador’s southeast coast. Here you will find the Point Amour Lighthouse, a Provincial Historic Site, and the tallest of its kind in all of Atlantic Canada. Around here, you’ll enjoy coastal hikes, fossils, wildflowers, and the oldest burial mound in North America. It’s a place where the history is palpable. I swear you can almost feel it in the air.


Point Amour Lighthouse, Labrador

Perhaps it’s the sense of mystery they evoke, or the connection to shipwrecks and long nights on the water, or maybe it’s just the view — whatever the reason, people are drawn to these structures, almost magnetically.

And fortunately, for those who follow the light, we’ve got plenty of it to go around.

If you’re looking for some great packages why not check out Seascapes: Above and Beyond in Cape Broyle. In Labrador there’s the Trip Back In Time in Battle Harbour, or a little farther east towards Quebec, you can check out Cross Border – Land and Water.