New life for lighthouse residence

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Bell Island tourism group turns keeper’s house into visitor centre

For years, the former residence of the lighthouse keeper on Bell Island was left vacant. Now thanks to a local tourism group, the 70-year-old building will once again be put to good use.

The former lighthouse residence on Bell Island, left vacant for several years, will soon be open to the public as a visitor information centre. — Submitted photo

With help from both the provincial and federal governments, Tourism Bell Island Inc. was able to refurbish the house and turn it into a new visitor information and interpretation centre.

“It’s like having a new baby,” said Tourism Bell Island chairman Henry Crane when asked how it feels to see the spruced-up building. “It is absolutely fantastic.”

It has been more than a year since the group first put together a new proposal concerning the lighthouse keeper residence, which was at one point acquired by the Town of Wabana. The lighthouse residence was always located on the northern tip of the island, but it was physically moved back from the cliff several years ago due to coastal erosion concerns.

“When they actually moved it, there was no lighthouse keeper in the residence,” said Crane. “The last lighthouse keeper was Bill Clarke — he passed away some time ago.”

According to Crane, the town council did not have the resources to repurpose the building. Tourism Bell Island, which came into existence six years ago, later agreed to take it over.

With a $223,750 government investment, the house was stripped down to its bare boards and rebuilt. Tourism Bell Island operated a small kiosk by the ferry terminal and has office space in the community, but the new visitor centre will serve a greater purpose.

“We know lots of walkers pass by there and lots of residents come down and take pictures of the lighthouse. It’s a focal point on the island, so we figured what better place to be the focal point for tourism than to have this lighthouse keeper’s residence opened.”

 

Mostly undeveloped

The area surrounding the lighthouse and the keeper’s residence is mostly undeveloped.

“There’s a beautiful paved road that goes down there, but there are no residents in the area, and the view from three sides is spectacular,” according to Crane.

“You’ve got one view going out towards that open area up around Baccalieu Island, and you’re looking over the bay towards Harbour Grace and Carbonear, and the other way you’re looking up to the far end of the island, so it’s a view that’s unparalleled.”

Tourism Bell Island expects the visitor information centre will open during the second week of July. Crane said its septic and sewer system is still a work in progress but close to completion.

With the lighthouse keeper’s residence revived, Crane hopes an opportunity will present itself down the road to make use of the lighthouse if the federal government decommissions it.

 

 

Organizations: Tourism Bell Island

Geographic location: Bell Island, Wabana, Baccalieu Island Carbonear

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • sarah inglehart
    July 05, 2014 - 07:49

    Congratulations on the brand new lighthouse and café. Keep up the good work. At least bell island is coming up in the world. As a former tourism worker I'm glad stuff is going on here for the next generation of tourism fills up the space of students with more grade twelve students

  • Michelle Hawco
    July 04, 2014 - 18:11

    Wonderful job giving the lighthouse a new breath of fresh air. ..just as a matter of fact... aka "some time ago" Bill Clarke ran the lighthouse for over 20s yrs... House and home and lighthouse were uprooted in 2004. and Mr Clarke passed away on June 22nd of 2008...He provided a great service and will be missed. I don't suppose we will be seeing something to commemorate his time spent in the lighthouse Mr. Crane??

  • Michelle Hawco
    July 04, 2014 - 17:48

    Wonderful job giving the lighthouse a new breath of fresh air. ..just as a matter of fact... aka "some time ago" Bill Clarke ran the lighthouse for over 20s yrs... House and home and lighthouse were uprooted in 2004. and Mr Clarke passed away on June 22nd of 2008...Hi provided a great service and will be missed. I don't suppose we will be seeing something to commemorate his time spent in the lighthouse Mr. Crane??

  • Llew
    July 03, 2014 - 09:46

    Congratulations & good job! :)

  • Lorraine Fowler
    July 02, 2014 - 16:32

    Tourism Bell Island has a devoted committee and Mr. Crane and his committee has worked many long hours and their determination and hard work is very visual in the community of Bell Island. Hats of to Mr. Crane and Bell Island Tourism Committee you are to be commended on a job well done.

  • Henriette Arsenault
    July 01, 2014 - 20:17

    This project has turned out to be one of the best thing for Bell Island. Congratulations to Henry Crane and all the people involved in making the "Keeper's Café" a beautiful place!

  • Hollie Neary
    June 30, 2014 - 08:00

    This group has done some amazing stuff on the island. My hat goes off to each one of them for a job very well done.