The sun was still shining when we got back from Bell Island so we decided to head south and check out Cape Spear.
This is the site of the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland (only the second one built on the Rock), and this wee point of land is actually the eastern-most geographical point in North America. We like to go to extremes here, obviously.
You can literally stand on the edge of the world here, and the view is incredible.The Pie doesn’t like me standing so close to the edge of the world, however, so he turned his back on the whole thing and checked out the old lighthouse.The old lighthouse has been restored to its 1839 appearance, and they’ve got it set up inside just like someone would have it if they lived there. Rumour has it that when they were doing the restoration, contractors discovered that the rooms were plastered six inches deep in wallpaper. Not having much else to do so far from civilization, lighthouse-keepers’ wives would simply redecorate. Often.
The light itself wasn’t a brand spanking new addition when the lighthouse was constructed between 1832 and 1836. It had been shipped from Scotland, second-hand, and had been in use since 1815.
This is verbatim from Parks Canada:
“Curved reflectors concentrated and intensified the light rays from seven Argand burners, named for their Swiss inventor. Lamps and reflectors were arranged on a metal frame, which rotated slowly to produce a 17-second flash of white light, followed by 43 seconds of darkness. The movement of the light was controlled by a clockwork mechanism.
As technology progressed, the light underwent many changes. The last of the lights that resided in the old Cape Spear lighthouse was a glass dioptric system, installed in 1912. First lit by oil, acetylene was adopted in 1916, and electricity in 1930. In 1955, the dioptric system was moved to a new light tower, not far from the original lighthouse.”
Seems complicated.There are all sorts of winding trails in and around the lighthouses. Some of the trails lead through bunkers left as a reminder of the Second World War. They were constructed as defense posts and barracks when German submarines and raiders threatened the island between 1941 and 1945.
Today the barracks and bunkers serve as sheltered places to observe the immense natural setting around you. The exposed environment of the Cape has made everything around here tough and weathered, and all the vegetation grows bonsai style.From Cape Spear you can see the whole world stretching before you in an immense span of blue sea and blue sky. You can really get a feel for what it felt like when the first European explorers landed here and surveyed the vast unknown.