St. Jacques Island Lighthouse
St. Jacques - Coomb’s Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
South of Belleoram, Fortune Bay, St. Jacques - Coomb’s Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1908 to 1908
1908 to 1908
Event, Person, Organization:
Birmingham, England factory Chance Bros and Co. Ltd. (manufacturer / designer)
Fortune Bay Lighthouse
Description of Historic Place
The St. Jacques Island Lighthouse, also known as the Fortune Bay Lighthouse, is a 12 metre (39 foot) white, cylindrical, castiron tower. Built in 1908, the lighthouse is the first on site. The lighthouse is situated on a 30-metre (100-foot) cliff on St. Jacques Island overlooking Fortune Bay, on the Southern coast of Newfoundland not far from St. Pierre and Miquelon. The island’s high visibility has made it a location marker for mariners for centuries.
The St. Jacques Island Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
The St. Jacques Island Lighthouse is an excellent example of the system of lighthouses that was initiated in 1811 on the coast of Newfoundland and grew rapidly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pre-Confederation lighthouses built in Newfoundland during this period were typically pre-fabricated cast-iron towers. This design was preferred for the climate of the Newfoundland coast because the towers were durable, relatively inexpensive and easy to erect on remote sites. The St. Jacques Island lighthouse illustrates the expansion and development of the lighthouse system during this period, when the British colony was still almost entirely economically-dependent on aquaculture.
The lighthouse also illustrates Newfoundland’s relationship with industrial England, where the pre-fabricated lighthouse was manufactured by the renowned Chance Brothers and Company. The St. Jacques Island Lighthouse was fundamental to the socio-economic development of the communities surrounding Fortune Bay. The lighthouse aided in providing safer navigation for a local fishing fleet that tripled in size at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It
facilitated the use of Fortune Bay as a safe harbour for off-shore fishing vessels during stormy weather, a role it had served since the early 17th century, and made local and
transitory navigation more secure for small inshore vessels, mail boats, passenger ships and commercial vessels.
The St. Jacques Island Lighthouse demonstrates excellent aesthetic design with its elegantly tapered, cylindrical tower with a well-proportioned and attractive lantern. There are only two openings on the tower: a small window located a third of the way up the shaft and a rounded iron door at ground level. The lantern features and “crow’s nest”-inspired gallery, reminiscent of the enclosed lookouts found on the mast of ships.
The lighthouse exhibits very good functional design in its pre-fabricated, cast-iron construction technology typical of the Newfoundland coast during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The cast-iron tower consists of rounded rectangular sections that were pre-fabricated in England, and subsequently assembled on site. Seems were filled with lead and caulking, creating a smooth exterior and eliminating any edges or seams where water from the harsh maritime climate could collect or infiltrate the building and lead to corrosion.
The lighthouse establishes the coastal maritime character of its setting, and is a local landmark in Fortune Bay, as evidenced by the picturesque qualities of its design and form. Its location on a steep 30-metre cliff and the lack of vegetation surrounding it make the lighthouse highly visible from all around the bay.
The town of St. Jacques-Coomb’s Cove is comprised of six communities nestled within various inlets that incorporated in 1972: St. Jacques, English Harbour West, Mose Ambrose, Boxey, Coomb’s Cove and Wreck Cove. When the town incorporated and its boundaries were drawn up, it did not include St. Jacques Island, which was under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The town of St. Jacques-Coomb’s Cove is currently in the process of having its boundaries redrawn to include St. Jacques Island specifically for the purpose of having the lighthouse designated as a municipal heritage site, reinforcing the importance of the lighthouse to the community.
There are four related buildings on the site that contribute to the heritage character of the lighthouse: (1) the 1960 lightkeeper’s residence; (2) the 1960 Generator Building; (3) the 1960 Equipment Building #1; and (4) the 1999 Equipment Building #2.