Quirpon Island's Cape Bauld

Northern Newfoundland

Summer 2010.

There is a company which purchased the buildings at two separate Newfoundland lightstations. At these lightstations, the company doesn't own the lighthouse, but they offer unique accommodations in the keeper's quarters.

One of these lightstations is just about as north as you can get in Newfoundland. To reach it, you need to go north & you'll eventually reach the viking site at L'Anse Aux Meadows; where you need to turn right and visit the community of Quirpon.

Quirpon is where you meet Captain Nelson for the boat ride to Quirpon Island.

As you can see from the above picture, the boat is not exactly an ocean liner, but thankfully the harbour is mostly sheltered. We shared the boat with Captain Nelson, his deckhand & a couple of 20-somethings (a guy from near Gros Morne, an Australian girl).

I have well documented my uneasiness with the ocean on this website. As we boated a bit further out of the Quirpon harbour, the boat started to jump waves a bit & my knuckles started to whiten (quite) a bit.

Thankfully, as we rounded the tip of Quirpon Island towards the wharf, there was a school of whales which made Nelson bring the boat to a standstill.

The giant mammals couldn't have been more than 15 feet away and it was very intimidating to think of their size in relation to our boat. It seemed like there were 2 or 3 of them feeding around this Cape Bauld and I kept imagining one coming up from underneath our boat and flinging us into the frigid ocean.

Also, I know my whale picture is again weak, but they weren't the most gregarious Minkes or Humpbacks - they seemed focused on feeding on the large amounts of fish which swim from the St. Lawrence Seaway, through this area, and onto the Atlantic Ocean.

After a few minutes of whale watching, we continued to the harbour of Quirpon Island.

After dropping off our stuff at the accommodations building, Nicole laughed as I hurried over to the northernmost tip of the island so I could finally see the Cape Bauld Light.

Newfoundland lighthouse #38!

There has been a lighthouse here since 1884, with the 1908 version being an amazing flying buttress, one of my favourite types of lighthouses0. That 1908 lighthouse was destroyed and replaced in 1964 by a Canadian Coast Guard Cookie Cut 1960s style lighthouse (just like here, here and here).

0 - Well they are favourites from pictures anyway.
Newfoundland destroyed 3 of their 4 flying buttresses; so I've never seen one.
I need to get to Anticosti Island.

We had a couple of hours to burn before dinner, so we could either hike or sit in the glass room waiting for whales.

We didn't hike the entire 7km length of the island, but enough to solidify memories of sunny fog conditions over barren northern lands. The Aussie/Newfie couple was also hiking nearby, so we didn't feel that desolate...but it didn't exactly feel like we were in a bustling metropolis either.

A Horned Lark flew around us.

They actually look pretty cool when you have a real camera to take pictures of them.

We ate dinner in the 1922 keeper's house, which has the kitchen, dining room, living room & 1/2 of the accommodations.

The other visitors included two middle aged couples & a trio of women. I made friends with one of the Americans and we talked about Virginia. One of the women asked about my career and after I trailed off, she told me that it didn't seem like I held much of a job. I wanted to tell her where to go, but I also realized that it's because I hate talking about my work & it shows whenever I'm forced to.

I initially thought of coming to this lighthouse alone, but I was now happy to have Nicole there to deflect some of the old woman career/life discussion.

Our accommodations were in the more modern keepers house, so we had to walk back after dinner.

They try to sell the simple lifestyle with the Quirpon Inn tour, so the room didn't have a television or radio or anything. Neither of us cared, we read our books and hit the hay after a couple of hours.

After the next day's breakfast, it wasn't long before it would be time to leave Quirpon Island. At $225/night, one night was good enough for us.

It was sunnier this day, but still not sunny enough to burn off all of the fog. The two of us ventured onto various rock outcrops & I was finally somewhat pleased with a Cape Bauld shot (I would have still liked that fog to completely burn off).

I wasn't looking forward to it, but since the weather was nicer today, that meant we would get our 30 minute tour through "iceberg alley" (on the other side of Quirpon Island, i.e. the ocean side of the island).

Where I had seen my lighthouse, I would have been happy to zip back to the wharf in the town of Quirpon.

Although after the tour was done, I was happy that I went. We saw more whales, more islands off these northern shores & I even saw a seal pop his head up as our boat motored along (he was up & back down before I could even think of taking a picture).

We also went right up to an iceberg!

Well, I guess I should say a growler, as it wasn't much of an iceberg (icebergs are unsafe to approach anyway).

Anyway, we bumped into the growler, touched it & some people even broke off parts and drank a bit of the water as the ice melted in their hands.

Eventually we passed the town of Quirpon and safely returned to our cars.

On the way home, I pulled off onto Hwy 436 as Nicole had never seen one of my favourites - the New Ferolle Lighthouse. On the way out to the light, we passed a car which turned around and followed us. The woman in the car asked if we were in town for the celebrations, but we explained that we only stopped to see the light...which worked out well because she was the lightkeeper!

She was excited to let us see inside and guided us up into the lantern room & even out onto the balcony.

We thanked her & we were happy that we decided to choose today for this detour.


1 - Cape Bauld Light - Lighthouse Depot

2 - Quirpon Inn - Linkum Tours

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