Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse sits at the entrance to Bonne Bay
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse
"In 1871, the Canadian Government erected beacons at Point Riche and Cape Norman to guide shipping through the Strait of Belle Isle. However, the rest of the coast remained for years dark and dangerous to fishermen and mariners. An old man in Bonne Bay spoke of the great need for a lit beacon to warn fishermen away from the rocks, especially on the northern entrance to the Bay. "While the tears rolled off his cheeks, he recounted with a husky voice, how often he had spent sleepless nights as the wind moaned
around the house, because his brave sons were on the banks, and no light to guide them home.
A stately old dame offered to keep the lighthouse (when erected) free of salary, and said she, 'You may be sure it will always be burning, for I have my three boys on the banks.’
For some years local settlers donated a pint of oil each week to a local fisherman who kept a light burning in his home near Lobster Cove Head. Then, in early 1894, the people of the Bay got news that work would begin in the spring to build a beacon here, but it was not until the spring of 1898 that the first warning light shone out from the 25-foot cast-iron tower, built in St. John's and equipped with a lantern from England.
The first keeper was Robert Lewis, from Dorset, first a fisherman and "Master Mariner," was living in Bonne Bay by 1862. Described as "right tall and thin", and his wife, Sophia, as "right big and short", they had fourteen children. Upon retirement from fishing at the age of 68, Lewis became the first lighthouse
keeper at Lobster Cove Head in 1898. He operated the light until his death in 1902, when William Young moved over from Silverton to replace him.
Young's daughter Annie (Walters) recalled that the light had to be lit every night. "Pop used to have to blow it out by his breath, there was no way to stop it. That got wore out, and they put in a light that used to wind up like a clock. It'd go for six hours." Even this was an arduous task, for it was necessary to keep an eye on the light all night. When William died in 1941, his son George became the lighthouse keeper, a job that ended when the light was automated in 1970."
Excerpted from “The Good and Beautiful Bay: A History of Bonne Bay from Confederation and a Little Beyond”, Antony Berger, Flanker Press.