A Travellerspoint blog

Cape Spear Lighthouses

Continuing on down the peninsula, past Fort Amherst, the next stop is Cape Spear which is one of the two main attractions that every tourist must see when they come to Eastern Newfoundland. We visited Signal Hill on our first day in Newfoundland. On our second day we drove down to Cape Spear, a nice 20-minute drive to the south.

It was relatively easy to find our way out of town, although the windy roads that seemed to have a new name every couple of blocks were a bit confusing. We were used to driving in the metropolis of Toronto with its millions of people. St. John’s has a population of just over 100,000.

The weather was again quite beautiful. We did not realize how lucky we were to be having such beautiful sunny days at that time of the year.

The road to Cape Spear passes the small community of Black Head. After climbing a bit, the trees open to a lovely view of the two lighthouses sitting out on the treeless terrain. Cape Spear is the most eastern point in North America, (repeating the caveat that you need to disregard Greenland).

There are two lighthouses. The original lighthouse was built in 1836 and was the second one built in Newfoundland. In 1955 the lighthouse now referred to as the “New Lighthouse” was built. The original building, which include living quarters, was designated a National Historic Site.

The job of lighthouse keeper at the various locations tended to stay within families. The Cantwell family manned the Cape Spear light for over 150 years. We later found out that our B&B was named after the family.

We took a short tour of the original or "old" lighthouse before taking the walk on the path towards the ocean. There are signs warning visitors to stay on the designated walkways. Not everyone listens. Many folks get rescued when they look for the best photograph or just want to show off. Some do not survive.

We also visited a building that contained a collection of lighthouse paintings by a local artist named Leslie Noseworthy. His paintings and book of the same have been an inspiration to my attempts to photograph the lighthouses of Newfoundland and Labrador. Of course, at the time of our first visit, we still did not suspect that we would come back again and again.


Newfoundland’s location made it an important site during World War II. There were thousands of allied troops based there. It was important for both air and sea purposes. St. John’s was especially important as the naval convoys stopped there en route to Europe. This made Cape Spear a strategic site, so underground passages and bunkers were built for troops who were stationed there. Some of the structures are still there. Even with the relatively mild weather on our first visit, I imagined that the weather made this a rather unpleasant posting.


With its close location to St. John’s, we have made many visits to Cape Spear over the years, both to bring family and friends, and to use the nearby hiking trails. We have been there during times when you could hardly stand up in the strong winds. At other times it has been a great place to see whales and icebergs.


Visits to Cape Spear usually include a stop in the picturesque fishing community of Petty Harbour.


Posted by Bob Brink 15:03 Archived in Canada Tagged lighthouses canada newfoundland

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Great photos - love the whale sightings! Presumably whale-watching trips are available in your parts, and often successful?

by ToonSarah

Sarah, of course there are whale watching trips available from many locations in Newfoundland. We can help you book one when you visit. My next post will include the boat ride from Bay Bulls with some whales and icebergs taken on different days.

by Bob Brink

'when you visit' ... One day, I hope!

by ToonSarah

My husband loves to paint lighthouses. I think he'd love it up there. We have a lot of lighthouses in California too. Love your photos.

by Beausoleil

Thanks again, Sally. My wife is an artist. She loves to paint the rocky coastline. Her site is pochunlau.ca.

by Bob Brink

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