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Newfoundland Travel Blog - Cape Spear

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Many of us spend years "chasing the dream" in our 9 to 5 jobs. This was certainly the case for me but, after my retirement, I saw that life had more possibilities than previously imagined. As a lover of nature and owner of a small vacation rental in Pouch Cove, I often explore the outdoors, take photos, and share my experiences with guests in order to help them plan their vacation. This is my Cape Spear experience. #capespear, #lighthouse, #nationalhistoricsite

A boardwalk trail on Cape Spear, Newfoundland, provides picturesque coastal views, green spaces, and a lighthouse tower.
Cape Spear is renowned for its aesthetic views, its lighthouse, and its historical significance.

Most visitors to Cape Spear are excited to get their photos taken at the many popular landmarks, particularly at the "most easterly point" marker and the lighthouse tower overlooking the ocean. #northatlanticocean, #capespearlighthouse, #mosteasterlypoint, #lighthouse

A green plaque mounted to a large rock near the ocean's edge marks Cape Spear as the "most easterly point" in North America.
"Most easterly point" landmark at a lookout point at Cape Spear, Newfoundland.

The lighthouse tower at Cape Spear is erected on the rugged coastline overlooking the mighty north Atlantic ocean.
Lighthouse tower on the outer cliffs of Cape Spear overlooking the ocean.

However, few know that there are actually two lighthouses at Cape Spear. The first, originally opened in 1835, is Newfoundland's oldest surviving lighthouse. It was replaced by a lighthouse tower in 1955. Unlike the original lighthouse, the newer lighthouse tower does not have a residential component. #lighthouse

Cape Spear's original lighthouse, with its red and white dome, sits on a grass covered cliff surrounded by a white fence.
The original lighthouse at Cape Spear opened in 1836 and operated by the Cantwell family.

During your visit to Cape Spear, I highly recommend that you participate in one of the tours offered by Parks Canada. You will discover the vital role that Cape Spear played in territory defense during wartime, the climate and wildlife impacting the area, early communication techniques, and the life of the first lighthouse keeper. Explore this restored 19th-century lighthouse to observe its Neoclassical style construction and antique artifacts, and to gain a feel for the life of a lighthouse keeper in the early 1800s. #newfoundland, #lighthousekeeper, #parkscanada

The children's bedroom in the Cape Spear lighthouse has an old map, wax candle, old fashioned bed frame, and a chalk board.
Child's bedroom in the early lighthouse keeper at Cape Spear.

Lighthouse keeper's residence has an old fashioned, yellow, kitchen with kiln, antique furnishings, and wax candlesticks.
The kitchen in the lighthouse keeper's residence at Cape Spear is restored to 1839.

One of the things that I hadn't been aware of was that early lighthouse keepers were considered to be of an elite class and essential to the functioning of the province. It was the lighthouse keepers' duty to coordinate uninterrupted lighthouse operations to enhance naval safety and to communicate messages between land and sea by means of merchant flag systems. #lighthousekeeper, #navalsafety

This merchant map, used by the Cape Spear lighthouse keeper in the 19th century, identified merchants approaching the coast.
Merchant map used by Cape Spear lighthouse keeper in the 19th century.

Beyond the lighthouse, one can appreciate the awe-inspiring views of the rugged Cape Spear landscape, the distant horizon, and the endless expanse of ocean. A beautiful boardwalk trail parallels the coast and has many lookout points and informational billboards. In season, watch ships, whales, and sea birds off shore. #aesthetic, #oceanview, #seabird, #whale, #landscapephotography, #naturephotography, #ship

A boardwalk trail parallels the beautiful, grass covered, cliffs overlooking the ocean and distant horizon at Cape Spear.
A boardwalk trail parallels the Atlantic coast at Cape Spear, Newfoundland.

As you continue along the beautiful walking trail, you will notice canons, bunkers, and even a communication center hidden in the grassy cliffs. Explore the vital role that Cape Spear played in territory defense during WW2 and take a detour to view inside the bunkers. #nationalhistoricsite, #walkingtrail

A gravel path leads to the entrance of an underground bunker at the base of a grassy cliff.
An entrance to the concrete bunker is concealed from view by grass covered cliffs.

This is the entrance of one of the underground bunkers at Cape Spear. Located in rocky cliffs covered with vegetation, the bunkers were effectively hidden from view by the invading forces. In an intriguing move, a "dummy battery" was set up further up the coast to attract naval attention and give soldiers manning Cape Spear's guns the upper hand. #undergroundbunker, #dummybattery

The vegetation above and around Cape Spear's bunkers helped conceal detection by naval attacks during World War II.
Grass roofs and sides are designed to conceal the underground bunker within the Cape Spear landscape.

The interior of the bunkers consisted of long halls leading to single cells made of thick concrete which were capable of absorbing detonation. #WW2bunker

Inside Cape Spear's underground concrete bunker is an illuminated corridor.
Illuminated corridor inside an underground concrete bunker at Cape Spear.

Inside Cape Spear's underground bunkers are rooms with a dome roof and thick concrete walls that can withstand great force.
This is the interior of one of the rooms in the underground bunker.

The bunkers allowed for transportation and storage of ammunition to be accessed for use in the large gun located just beyond their entrance.

Within the grass covered cliffs on the coast of Cape Spear is an underground bunker and, at its entrance, a disappearing gun.
The disappearing gun at Cape Spear is located just a few feet from the bunker entrance for ease of ammunition access.

There are two "disappearing gun" at Cape Spear, one at the entrance of each of the two bunker entrances. These guns are operated by hydraulics. During firing, the guns rise above a concrete wall to expel the ammunition, then retreat back into a trench, hidden from view, afterwards. #gun, #bunker, #disappearinggun

Large, rust pitted, canon, concealed in a circular concrete trench, overlooking the open sea and distant horizon at Cape Spear.
One of the two disappearing guns located at Cape Spear, Newfoundland.

Further along the trail, there are two underground "chat rooms". During wartime operations, the rooms were equipped with radio operators who monitored naval activity and communicated imminent danger to soldiers guarding the coast.

Communication centers (chat rooms) hidden in the cliffs of Cape Spear helped soldiers anticipate advancing troops and prepare defensive action.
Communication centers (chat rooms) hidden in the grassy cliffs of Cape Spear.

A trip to Newfoundland's east coast just wouldn't be complete without a visit to Cape Spear. I usually visit there several times a year and, each time, am moved by its natural beauty and rich historical presence. I'm sure you will agree that Cape Spear is a must-see destination to include on your Newfoundland travel itinerary. Please follow my Newfoundland Travel Blog to see my work on some other popular tourist attractions in eastern Newfoundland. I'd be delighted to hear from you so why not contact me today?