Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 124 – Marlene O’Connell Russell, Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland, Canada

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The Bonavista Peninsula is on the east coast of Newfoundland, Canada, separating Trinity Bay to the south from Bonavista Bay to the north. At the peninsula’s northeastern tip is the headland known as Cape Bonavista. It’s believed that the navigator Giovanne Caboto, better known as John Cabot, may have landed at the cape during his first expedition to North America in 1497. It’s said that when he caught site of the high bluffs at Cape Bonavista, he exclaimed, “O Buono Vista,” meaning “Oh Happy Sight,” which gave the cape its name.

Cape Bonavista Light Station, Newfoundland.
U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Ralph Eshelman.

The lighthouse at Cape Bonavista was established in 1843 to help mariners entering Trinity Bay and Bonavista Bay, and to aid navigation heading down the coast for Labrador. The original lamps and reflectors came from the famous Bell Rock Light in Scotland. That system was replaced in 1895 by a catoptric lighting system that had been designed by the renowned Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson. The apparatus was originally used at Isle of May Lighthouse in Scotland. It was installed at Harbour Grace Lighthouse in Newfoundland in 1847, and finally at Cape Bonavista in 1895.

The lighting apparatus at Cape Bonavista. U.S. Lighthouse Society photo.

In 1970 the station was declared a Provincial Historic Site, and the lighthouse was restored by the provincial government a few years later. The historic 1895 lighting apparatus was returned to the lantern room, and it’s on display there today. Marlene O’Connell Russell is the site supervisor for Cape Bonavista Lighthouse and also for Mockbeggar Plantation in Bonavista.

Marlene O’Connell Russell

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