In all, Newfoundland and Labrador has a combined total of 28,956 km (nearly 18,000 miles) of coastline, much of which consists of hidden coves, rugged cliffs, submerged rocks and narrow rocky inlets shrouded in fog and mists. For centuries this rugged Atlantic Canada coastline and passing Newfoundland Icebergs posed major shipping hazards to Newfoundland’s early fishing and trade industries so in 1832 the Lighthouse Board was created to identify locations that required the construction of Newfoundland lighthouses. The first Newfoundland lighthouse was built in St. John’s harbour in 1813, nearly two decades prior to the creation of the Lighthouse Board (1832) and three decades before the construction of Bonavista lighthouse (Newfoundland’s second lighthouse), which became operational in September 1843. There are over 400 Canadian lighthouses (and hundreds more navigational lights) that keep ships from being dashed against Canada’s 243,000 km (151,000 miles) of coastline. Newfoundland and Labrador have over 90 Canadian lighthouses; most of the 40 or so Newfoundland lighthouses still remain operational.
Bonavista Peninsula on the north-eastern coast of Newfoundland is considered to be the first place in North America where John Cabot docked his ship The Matthew in June of 1497, over five and a half centuries ago. It would take nearly 300 more years before the original two-story Bonavista lighthouse would be built in 1843 housing a revolving red and white light beacon that originally belonged to Scotland’s Bell Rock Lighthouse (since 1811). The reflecting Bell Rock light fixture was replaced in 1895 by another Scottish light beacon; one that flashed 2 white lights followed by a red light and had a range of up to 30 miles. This too, was replaced in 1962 by an electric light, which was then moved to an adjacent metal tower in 1966. The old wood and masonry Bonavista lighthouse, which was originally restored in 1870, now houses the original 1895 light beacon and the entire structure was designated a Provincial Historic Site in August of 1978.
Bonavista Lighthouse Commemorates 500 Years
To commemorate 500 years since the arrival of John Cabot in Newfoundland the original Bonavista lighthouse, which is only about 5 km (just over 3 miles) from the town of Bonavista Newfoundland, underwent a facelift in the late 1990′s. Restored to reflect life in the 1870′s, the structure is now painted in its signature wide-striped red and white colours, in honour of the red and white light beacons that made this Newfoundland lighthouse so unique. This is one of the most beautiful and perfectly preserved Newfoundland lighthouses in the province. Guests who stay at our Luxury Newfoundland Cottages can explore the lighthouse tower and the Bonavista Lighthouse Museum any time between mid-May and October. Near the Bonavista lighthouse, guests can also explore Newfoundland Hiking Trails that follow the rocky coastline. These hikes provide excellent views of passing icebergs, Newfoundland Whales and the habitat of our beloved Atlantic Puffins.
Come Discover Bonavista Lighthouse
Stand in this fully restored 19th century Newfoundland lighthouse and observe the power and majesty of the Atlantic Ocean in Bonavista Bay. Bonavista is home to one of Canada’s most historic lighthouses, a place where you can experience history, adventure and nature in perfect communion. We invite you to visit us in Bonavista and explore one of our finest Newfoundland lighthouses. Spend your days discovering the rugged north-eastern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the evenings relax in your “home away from home” in one of our two Self Catered Newfoundland Cottages complete with fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and private deck. To book our luxury Newfoundland cottages please Call Us: 1-709-468-5035 or Email Newfoundland Cottages for more information. I look forward to meeting you!
How Newfoundland Lighthouses Operate
The higher a lighthouse is situated above sea level the further out to sea the light beacon can be seen. For instance, a lighthouse beacon positioned at 10 meters (33 ft approx) above sea level can be seen 7.5 miles from shore. However a lighthouse beacon at 50 meters (164 ft) above sea level can be seen almost 17 miles out to sea! The light beacon from Bonavista lighthouse can be seen up to 30 miles from shore.