Since early settlement, Harbour Grace’s Point of Beach has been a notable landmark for mariners. In the 1700s, when surveying Newfoundland’s coastal waters, Capt. James Cook erected as ‘head of stones’ at Point of Beach to aid navigation.
In 1850, shipbuilder Michael Condon Kearney, with help from his Scottish foreman John Gunn, constructed a lighthouse at Point of Beach. Timber for the building was brought from St. Margaret’s, Nova Scotia, and Mirimachi, New Brunswick. Known as the ‘Beacon Light,’ the structure was originally lit by oil. The light soon switched to gas in 1852 and eventually moved to electricity. The beacon was a double light, one being placed over the other. It held this appearance for six miles. Further than this distance, up to ten miles away, the lights appeared as one.
The first light keeper was Capt. George Brown, known as ‘Bully Brown’ in Harbour Grace.
In November 1960, as a cost-saving measure, the federal government decided to replace the century old ‘Beacon Light’ with an open-tower steel structure. Transport Minister Léon Balcer said the wooden lighthouse was in such condition that it would cost $16,000 to replace the structure, but only $2,200 to build a new one.
Do you have any memories of the ‘Beacon Light’ in Harbour Grace?
Pictured: 1910 Ford Model T owned by Babb’s Service Station, located at the top of Cochrane St (facing Harvey St), 1947. The driver is Donald Pike, with passenger Margaret Reynolds (Queen of the Fair, 1947). Pictured alongside the car: Alonzo (Lonz) Babb and Nick Perry.
Do you have any memories of Babb’s Service Station in Harbour Grace?
Did you ever visit our grounds and wonder about these gigantic concrete circles? For years these rings have been a feature in our park on Water Street East, though their original location was much further to the west, at Riverhead, where predominantly Irish labourers tilled the land for subsistence agriculture, to supplement their work in the fishery.
During the nineteenth century, Harbour Grace merchants John Munn and Thomas Ridley invested in various local enterprises outside of the fishery. In 1850, the two financially backed a flour mill at Riverhead. The mill was located at Bannerman River (also known as Dawley’s Brook) and utilized the waters’ substantial force to power the mill’s grinding stones (or “runnerstones”). A Scotsman by the name of Cockburn was the miller and Thomas Kitchin was superintendent.
Decades after the mill’s closure, two of the grinding stones once used at the Bannerman River mill were salvaged and brought to the museum grounds for public display, where they remain to this day.
Source: Munn, William A. “The Town Goes Ahead–1845 to 1855,” NQ, vol. 37, no. 2, p. 22.