At 109 feet from the ground to the light itself, Point Amour
lighthouse is the tallest in Atlantic Canada and the second
tallest lighthouse ever built in Canada.
It is still a working lighthouse, automated off course. The lighthouse tower and surrounding buildings have been designated a Provincial Historic Site. The residential part of the lighthouse, now renovated and partially restored to the 1850s period, houses an extensive series of exhibits portraying the evolution of lighthouse technology and the maritime history of the Labrador Straits.
The Point Amour station has figured prominently in the lives of southern Labradorians for well over a century. Today, it stands as a symbol of our maritime heritage and diverse history - a history which has always been intimately linked with the sea.
The Point Amour light station is composed of a number of buildings, including the light tower and attached original keeper's dwelling and other habitations and work buildings associated with the operation of the station over the years.
Completed in 1857, the stone tower and attached keeper's dwelling is an historic structure. In subsequent years several buildings were added to the light station: an oil shed in 1875, a storage shed and fog alarm building in 1907 (since demolished), a second dwelling in 1954 and a third dwelling in 1967.
Other Noteworthy Facts:
•The lighthouse is the tallest in the Province and the second tallest in Canada.
•Point Amour was and still is a strategic location for shipping through the Strait of Belle Isle, on a shipping lane linking Canada and Europe.
•Point Amour has been a site of numerous shipwrecks, one of the more spectacular and recent being the HMS Raleigh.
•Point Amour provides an excellent vantage point for observing whales, sea birds and other marine life.
•The light station is near the L'Anse Amour Maritime Archaic burial mound, the oldest known funeral monument in the New World
Built from 1854 to 1857, Point Amour lighthouse went into service at the opening of navigation in 1858. It is a strikingly handsome structure built of local limestone, towering at 109 feet from base to light. As a major coastal lighthouse it is equipped with a light of the 2nd Order, projecting its beam for 18.5 nautical miles.
This impressive lighthouse was built under the authority of the Board of Works to allow for safer navigation through the Strait of Belle Isle, a shorter route from Montreal and Quebec to the United Kingdom than the Cabot Strait. This route was not much used in the days of sail because of the ice and narrow passage.
The advent of steamships in the mid-19th century gave the Strait of Belle Isle an increasing popularity. Four major lighthouses were built at the same time: Point Amour, Cap des Rosiers (112 feet and the tallest in Canada), West Point Anticosti and Belle Isle. All four lighthouses were built to the same design and by the same contractor, Francois Baby of Quebec, whose contract comprised all aspects of masonry, carpentry and joiner's work.
These light stations embodied the latest techniques in lighthouse construction and technology with their Argand concentric wick lamp burning whale oil, and dioptric lenses and prisms developed in France by Augustin Fresnel.
Construction at Point Amour was a major 3-year enterprise. Building supplies and equipment had to be landed from schooners at L'Anse au Loup, four miles from the chosen site. Stone quarries were opened at Forteau Point and L'Anse au Loup. Roads had to be built and since the site had no suitable forest, all the timber had to be shipped from Quebec as well as shingle, cut stone and brick.
The light tower is 24 feet 6 inches in diameter at ground level, tapering to 8 feet 9 inches at the cornice. The walls at the base are about 6 feet thick with foundations carried down to solid rock. Also constructed of limestone, the two-storey keeper's house is 50 feet in length and 24 feet 6 inches in width.
A New Beginning:
In 1996, after 138 years of continuous operation, the light at Point Amour was converted to an automatic system. Point Amour has joined the ranks of lighthouse stations "destaffed" by the Canadian Coast Guard. Despite the fact the a lightkeeper will no longer be in residence at Point Amour, the site continues to be a focus of activity.
Each summer thousands of visitors embark on the climb to the top of the tower and browse through the extensive exhibits and restored rooms of the former keeper's residence. As an historical tourism site the Point Amour lighthouse has a bright future. In the past Point Amour lighthouse was an important part of social, cultural and economic life in the Labrador Straits. With this "new beginning" it will continue to make a significant contribution to the local region.
Facilities and Services: Interpreters in period clothing, guided tours, interpretive walking trails along the coastline, gift shop and public washrooms.
Season: Call for Dates 800-563-6353
Location: L'Anse-Amour Road off Route 510
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL
Off Season Telephone: 709-729-0592
Off Season Fax: 709-729-0870
Getting Here: Driving from Gros Morne and the Northern Peninsula on the Island of Newfoundland:
1.Take the car ferry from St. Barbe, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula to Blanc Sablon, Quebec. St. Barbe is on Route 430, 563 km north of the Port aux Basques ferry terminal. Crossing time: 1 3/4 hours. St. Barbe-Blanc Sablon ferry schedules
2.From Blanc Sablon, drive approximately 17 km (15 minutes) north on Route 510 to the Town of Forteau.
3.Continue on Route 510 8 km past Forteau. Look for signs and a pull off onto a gravel road on the right.
4.Drive along the gravel road for 4 km. Continue past the small settlement of Davis House. Parking for the lighthouse is located at the end of the 4 km gravel road.
Arriving by air?
By car, the site is about 30 minutes north of the nearest airport at Blanc Sablon, Quebec