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.
The Cape Race Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community 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.
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.
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.
Six related buildings, as listed in section 1, contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse.
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.