Cape Spear, Newfoundland


Cape Spear is the easternmost point in Canada, which meant its lighthouses are the easternmost traditional manned lights in North America (Greenland has several lights built in the middle of the last century, but they’re just metal cones on rocky promontories.) There are two lighthouses on Cape Spear—one built in 1836, which is the oldest extant lighthouse in Canada. The ‘new’ one was built in the 1950s.

It was a raw November morning when Mary dropped me off along Blackhead Road to paint the lighthouses from a distance. While I was puttering, she drove back to St. John’s to find us coffee. I heard the occasional report of a rifle, but I was wearing hi-vis clothing and standing on the shoulder of the road.

It was one of the longest coffee runs in history. I finished my painting and she still hadn’t returned. I left my kit by the roadside and hiked down a short trail that pushed through scrub to a swampy area. There is quicksand in Newfoundland, and there was enough fresh bear scat that I decided it would be prudent to turn around. As I climbed up the embankment, I noticed a pile of cigarette butts and smiled to myself. First, bear droppings, then human droppings. I was quite the tracker.

The trail continued on the other side of the road. A few yards in, I came face-to-foot with a freshly dismembered moose. A bull moose can weigh up to 1500 lbs., so it’s customary to cut them up on the spot and take just the parts you want. Never mind those pesky laws; that hunter had stood on the opposite shoulder of the road, patiently waiting for his quarry, smoking cigarettes.

I beat feet out of there. It didn’t seem smart to stand between black bears and fresh meat, especially during bear season.

In 2016, my daughter Mary and I set off across Alaska and Canada on a Great White North Adventure, which you can read about starting here. We arrived in Anchorage at the beginning of September and got home in mid-October. In between, we visited every province but PEI (been there, done that), and Yukon Territory. In retrospect, it might have made more sense to do this during the summer, since Alaska and Canada threw a mess of strange weather at us.

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Cape Spear, Newfoundland is 8X10, oil on archival canvasboard.

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