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Visiting Cape Spear

Cape Spear national historic site is a popular tourist destination in eastern Newfoundland. The site earned its historic status because of its importance as a defensive military post during WW2 and because it is home to the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland. A boardwalk trail parallels the coastline and, at their own pace, guests can enjoy a nature walk and view the many military relics found along its course. Many people take the opportunity to have their photo taken at the "most easterly point" landmark at the ocean's edge.

Atop a wooden staircase leading up a cliff, Cape Spear lighthouse can be seen under ominous clouds.
Cape Spear lighthouse at the top of a wooden staircase near St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Cape Spear Lighthouse

Since 1836, the Cape Spear lighthouse has enhanced the safety of ships approaching St. John's harbour. The design consisted of a central, concrete, core for the lighthouse and a two-storey family home encircling the core. The lighthouse keeper lived in the residence with his family and could access the lighthouse from the second floor of the residence. The original lighthouse, restored to 1839, is open for public tours during the summer season. A separate blog showcasing the lighthouse keeper's residence can be accessed here.

The Cape Spear lighthouse is located atop huge coastal cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Cape Spear lighthouse / lighthouse keeper residence, has been restored to 1839 is available for public tours.

With technological advancements, the lighthouse's oil operating system went through evolutionary changes and the fuel source transitioned from an oil source to acetylene and, finally, electricity. In 1955, a light tower, built within a few hundred feet of the original lighthouse, replaced the former structure. The light tower does not have housing quarters and, to the best of my knowledge, is managed by Parks Canada officials. For those interested, here is a list of other lighthouses in NL.

The lighthouse tower at Cape Spear is erected on the rugged coastal landscape overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
The light tower on the outer cliffs of Cape Spear, NL, replaced the original lighthouse in 1955.

Cape Spear: Military History

Cape Spear, Newfoundland, being the eastern-most land mass on Canada's coast, played an important role in country's military history during WW2. The barracks and mess hall were demolished, and much of the ammunition was removed, since the garrison retreated after the end of the war in 1945. However, two 10 inch M1888 guns remain on location in close proximity to underground bunkers as grim reminders of the battle of WW2.

Large, rust pitted, mounted gun, concealed within a concrete trench overlooking the ocean at Cape Spear.
This is one of two 10 inch guns used at Cape Spear during WW2 and now serving as war memorabilia for tourists.

At Cape Spear, Newfoundland, there is an underground bunker and a disappearing gun close to the ocean's edge.
At Cape Spear, a disappearing gun & nearby bunker played important roles in NL land defense during wartime.

More detail about the military history of Fort Cape Spear can be found in a separate blog by following the link.

The red walled, underground, bunker rooms at Cape Spear, NL, stored ammunition for use by the disappearing guns at the entrance to the bunker..
Cape Spear underground bunkers stored ammunition for the disappearing guns at the bunker entrance..

Cape Spear: Nature Trail