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Cape Race Lighthouse

Cape Race, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2015/05/29

Historic photograph offering a dramatic view of Cape Race Lighthouse, which testify its visual prominence in relation to the water, cliffs and landscape, 1933.; Library and Archives Canada \ Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, Clifford M. Johnston, PA-056705
Historic photograph
Postage stamp showing Cape Race Lighthouse, 1932.; Library and Archives Canada, Canada Post \ Bibliothèque et Achives Canada, Postes Canada, 1989-565 CPA
Postage stamp
General view of Cape Race Lighthouse, 1990.; Parks Canada Agency \ Agence Parcs Canada
General view

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1907/01/01 to 1907/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2017/03/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Cape Race Lighthouse is a 29 metres (95 ft) tall reinforced concrete cylindrical shaft, topped by a circular lantern with a dome roof. Built in 1907, this landfall light was the first lighthouse in Canada to be built with reinforced concrete and its lantern houses a very rare hyper-radial Fresnel lens. The lighthouse is located along Newfoundland’s rugged coastline, in a remote location on a headland of the Avalon Peninsula.

There are six related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the c. 1900 lightkeeper’s dwelling; (2) the 1909 fog alarm building; (3) the 1965 equipment building (old); (4) the 1960 garage; (5) the 2000 lightkeeper’s dwelling / office (new); and, (6) the 1965 beacon building.

Heritage Value

The Cape Race Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.

Historical values
As Canada’s most prominent landfall light, Cape Race Lighthouse is an excellent example of the system of navigational aids that have been erected along the waterways of Canada. Built on the dangerous and fog-bound southern shore of Newfoundland’s Avalon peninsula, the light station guided ships heading through the Cabot Strait for Canada. When the new lighting apparatus was installed on the lighthouse in 1907, it was one of the most powerful lights in the world.
Its strategic location on the Atlantic coast made it highly visible to maritime traffic and enabled Cape Race Lighthouse to play an important role in the development of the international maritime trade in Newfoundland and Canada.

Architectural values
The Cape Race Lighthouse is the first lighthouse in Canada to be constructed with reinforced concrete. Built by the Steel Concrete Co. Ltd., an important early builder of concrete structures in Canada, it was the prototype of a standard design repeated in several other locations. It is characterized by a simple unadorned cylindrical shape topped by a well-proportioned and impressive prefabricated lantern.
The Cape Race Lighthouse demonstrates the Government of Canada’s pragmatic approach to using up-to-date technologies to erect suitable lighthouses on some of the most difficult and rugged sites. Though it was built at an experimental stage, its concrete construction proved to be strong, durable, fireproof and cost efficient.

Community values
The Cape Race Lighthouse reinforces the character of its rugged setting on the Newfoundland coast. Its location, height and powerful lens make it the first and last sighting of land by many mariners crossing the Atlantic. The Cape Race Lighthouse is Canada’s most prominent landfall marker and a significant maritime landmark.
Recognized as a national historic site of Canada, the Cape Race Lighthouse is a significant symbol of the community and the province as a whole. It is a major tourist attraction that supports the economic development of the region.

Related buildings
Six related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Cape Race Lighthouse should be respected:
— its location on a remote headland on the Avalon Peninsula;
— its intact, as-built structural form, height, profile and balanced proportions;
— its reinforced concrete construction;
— its tall cylindrical tower with unadorned exterior walls;
— its exterior concrete gallery with a metal railing;
— its large, prefabricated, circular lantern;
— its small square windows and door;
— its traditional red and white exterior colour scheme, with the white tower and the red lantern and gallery railing;
— its visual prominence in relation to the water, cliffs, and landscape.

The following character-defining elements of the related buildings should be respected:
— their respective built forms, profiles, and proportions;
— the traditional red and white exterior colour schemes;
— their contextual relationships to the lighthouse within an historic lightstation setting.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act

Recognition Type

Heritage Lighthouse

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type


Navigational Aid or Lighthouse


Architect / Designer



Steel Concrete Co.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Conservation and Commemoration Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Quebec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

Exterior photo

Cape Race Lighthouse

The Lighthouse at Cape Race is a straight, unadorned, concrete cylindrical shaft, topped by a well-proportioned prefabricated metal circular lantern of impressive scale and a dome…

General view

Cape Race Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada

The Cape Race Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada is situated on a remote headland on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. The stone and reinforced concrete tower…


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