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Traditions excerpt: The Rose Blanche Lighthouse

During Christmas season of 1873, the people of Rose Blanche got what they had been asking for, for years, when the final lamp fitting for the Rose Blanche Lighthouse was completed on December 31st .

After several years of complaints, a petition to the government from P. H. Sorsoliel (the postmaster at the time) and residents of Rose Blanche, and advocacy for a light in Rose Blanche from J. T. Neville (Inspector of Lighthouses and Public Works), the Newfoundland government approved the project.

Considerable care was taken in planning the project; Neville pushed for longevity in project planning during his career as Inspector, and the Rose Blanche lighthouse was no exception. In fact, he was the one who recommended a cast-iron light tower for Channel Head – a light that has been in operation since 1895.

For the lighthouse further down the coast, he also wanted to follow a new plan he was implementing in public works throughout Newfoundland – he wanted to build it primarily from materials sourced from Newfoundland.

The first lighthouse built with this model was on Puffin Island, off the Northwest coast of the Avalon peninsula. The second was the Rose Blanche lighthouse.

Granite was quarried on the spot, the lumber came from local mills, and the roofing slates came from either Trinity Bay or Green Bay, many of which were reclaimed during the reconstruction project in the 1990s.

Construction began in 1872, with the bulk completed in the summer of 1873. The final light fitting was completed December 31, 1873 – a high quality light from David and Thomas Stevenson of Edinburgh, Scotland. The first light keeper, John A. Roberts, lit it for the first time on January 1st , 1874, well in time for Old Christmas Day.

The Southwest Coast Historical Society

(prepared by Melissa Samms)

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