Belle Isle South End Lower Lighthouse
St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador
(© Transport Canada | Transports Canada, 8080-810, vol. 2.)
Belle Isle, St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador
Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (S.C. 2008, c 16)
1908 to 1908
1878 to 1878
Description of Historic Place
The Belle Isle South End Lower Lighthouse was built on the southern tip of Belle Isle, off the coast of Labrador and north of Newfoundland in the Strait of Belle Isle. It consists of a circular metal lantern mounted on a square reinforced concrete platform on a stone foundation anchored into the side of the island’s cliffs, 125 feet above the sea. The lantern is 5.7 metres (19 feet) in height.
Establishment of the first lightstation on the island dates back to 1858, when a lighthouse was built on the upper point. A second lighthouse was built half-way down the cliff in 1878, following numerous complaints from mariners, who found it impossible to see the light from the upper lighthouse in foggy conditions. The first lower lighthouse was built of wood, but was replaced in 1908 by the current structure.
The Belle Isle South End Lower Lighthouse is a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural, and community values.
Built in 1908 to replace the wooden lower lighthouse dating from 1878, the current lighthouse is associated with the improvement of the navigation system in the Strait of Belle Isle. A first lighthouse was built on the upper south end of the island in 1858 as part of the construction of a series of four lighthouses in Newfoundland by the government of the United Canadas in the 1850s.
The Strait of Belle Isle marks the northern outlet of the Gulf of St. Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean. With the increase in marine traffic by steamships in the strait, it was necessary to build lighthouses to speed up passage through the strait and improve navigation. The Belle Isle lightstation is also associated with the regular use of the Strait of Belle Isle by commercial vessels and local fishermen.
The Belle Isle South End Lower Lighthouse is a very fine example of an atypical and unique lighthouse. Sober and essentially functional in design, it is a rare example of a Canadian lighthouse which has a lantern, but no tower. The lighthouse consists of a massive concrete base with an exterior masonry wall, to which is affixed a red metal lantern topped with a dome. At 5.7 metres in height, this is certainly one of the smallest lighthouses in Canada.
The unusual design of the lighthouse is particularly well adapted to its environment. It demonstrates well thought-out design by being tailored to the geology of the cliff.
Belle Isle South End Lower Lighthouse reinforces the maritime character of the surrounding landscape and fits in very well with the island’s rocky and desolate setting. The light is located on the cliff on the southern extremity of the island, not far from the upper lighthouse and its ancillary buildings. An iron staircase clinging to the steep slope links the two lighthouses on the southern end of Belle Isle.
Owing to the island’s isolation, the lighthouse, together with the others on the island, particularly the Belle Isle South End Upper Lighthouse, constitutes a highly valued landmark for the marine community using the Strait of Belle Isle, including commercial vessels and local fishermen.
The following character-defining elements of the Belle Isle South End Lower Lighthouse should be respected: its isolated location on the bare and rocky coast at the southern extremity of Belle Isle, Newfoundland; its placement on a cliff near the Belle Isle South Upper Lightstation; its structure, height, profile and original proportions, characterized by its circular metal lantern on a square reinforced concrete platform; its atypical and unique style, with a massive concrete base complemented by an exterior masonry wall on which is set a metal lantern topped with a dome, accessible by a small wooden door; its well proportioned red cylindrical lantern; its design, well adapted to the environment; its atypical exterior colour scheme, with a red lantern and a base of natural coloured concrete; and, its visual prominence in relation to the water.