Jutting out into the cold and violent North Atlantic, Cape Spear is the most easterly point of North America. Originally named “Cabo da Esperança” by Portuguese sailors, then “Cap d’Espoir” by the French, and eventually Cape Spear by the English, this point of land has been an important navigational aid from the earliest days of Newfoundland’s exploration to the present.
Built in 1836, Cape Spear features Newfoundland’s oldest surviving lighthouse, which is based on a square two story building with the tower and light in the middle. The light and technology in the lighthouse changed over time until 1955 when a new concrete lighthouse became operational. As it stands now the lighthouse has been restored to its 1839 appearance and is set up to show how a mid-nineteenth century lighthouse keeper and his family would have lived.
Cape Spear’s location near the convoy routes of the Second World War made it a strategic point in the Battle of the Atlantic. To provide protection for convoys from German submarines a battery and garrison was stationed at Cape Spear featuring bunkers, underground passages, and two 10-inch guns. Today this outpost is no longer used by any military and the remains of the bunker stand as a reminder of the impact of the war.
Along with its history Cape Spear is an excellent place to see seabirds, icebergs, ships, and whales in the spring and summer months. Sightings have included Dolphins, Humpback Whales, and even on rare occasions Orca Whales. Along with its opportunities to see wildlife on the sea and land the East Coast Hiking Trail passes through Cape Spear, offering access to some of the island’s best hiking trails.
With its outstanding history, natural environment, and outdoor activities Cape Spear is a must see for any visitor and a treasure for any local to enjoy.
The Visitor Centre on the hill contains a Heritage Shop where you can purchase items specific to the site and craft representing the natural wonder found in this historic place.
Header Photo Credit: [Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism]
Cape Spear Heritage Shop
Cape Spear Lighthouse NHS
Cape Spear, NL
Closed for the Season
Open: May 13 - Oct 15
Historic Sites Contributions:
In 2008, HSA provided $75,000 towards the conservation and restoration of the Cape Spear Lighthouse Dome