Cape Spear Drive

The Fast East of the Western World

One of the must-see places on any visit to them northeast Avalon is Cape Spear National Historic Site, the most easterly point in North America. To reach it, drive west on Water Street, keeping a keen lookout for the small brown Parks Canada sign indicating the road to Cape Spear, Route 11. Keep in the left hand lane. The turn onto Route 11 is just past Victoria Park and goes over a bridge. You'll come to a stop sign at the end of the bridge that says "Welcome to the Cape Spear Drive." Continue straight ahead up the hill, through the neighborhood of Shea Heights and to lighthouse about 8 km from Water Street. Built in 1835, the Cape Spear Lighthouse is the oldest existing lighthouse in Newfoundland. The two-story, wooden structure that served as a marine beacon from 1836 to 1955 is now a lifestyle museum. A modern lighthouse stands nearby.

The first lightkeeper at Cape Spear was Emmanuel Warre. Following his death in 1845, the government appointed James Cantwell to take his place. Members of the Cantwell family have tended the light ever since. World War II saw increased activity at the cape. Two gun emplacements were constructed and underground passages and barracks were built. Most of the installations were demolished after the war, but the gun emplacements still exist and the bunker has been used in summer as an amphitheatre where concerts are staged. Bring a sweater and a cushion if you attend a night time performance.

Return to St. John's by taking a brief excursion along Route 11 through Maddox Cove and Petty Harbour, a small outport that is just 18 km from the capital city. Here you'll see the old wooden stages that were used to dry the salt cod that Newfoundland once supplied to the world. Petty Harbour has been the location of several feature films. Continue on Route 11 to Route 10 and return to St. Johnís.

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