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Next morning I was back on the road comparatively early. And the first thing that I noticed along the extreme east of Newfoundland was the autumn. It's definitely here as all of the leaves have changed colour - yes, they are all deciduous trees here, all of them that I can see - and for the most part they still have their leaves and here we are on the 19th October. It really is marvellous and you wouldn't believe this after all that I've been driving through just recently.

atlantic storm cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

first place to stop of course is only a 10-minute drive from the bed-and breakfast and that is Cape Spear. And the reason why we have come here is because this is the most easterly point in the whole of North America.

And look at the storm out there to sea on the right-hand edge of the photograph. I wouldn't like to be having to come by ship through that lot. Even here on land the wind was so strong that it slammed my car door shut on me.

And no wind turbines either. It's astonishing.

strawberry moose cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

And why is it called Cape Spear? The first Europeans to come here in any numbers were the Portuguese, who gave it the name "&#Cabo da Esperança34;, the Cape of Hope. The French translated that as "Cap d'Espoir", which became corrupted into Cape Spear by the English settlers. In fact there is a Bay d'Espoir along the south coast of Newfoundland, just to confuse matters.

Of course Strawberry Moose has to get in on the act and have a photocall just here, to prove that he made it to this point.

For those of you who are unaware, he was formerly the unofficial and highly controversial mascot of the Open University - a distance-learning University in the UK for ... errr ... mature students. He goes from place to place being photographed in ordee to establish his credentials as the world's best-travelled moose.

What I was doing, though, in a University for mature students was always a matter of some considerable debate.

signal hill st johns cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Across the bay to the north is Signal Hill, the headland that shelters the inlet that leads into the harbour of St John's. We shall be going for a wander over there in due course.

If you look behind the headland to the land in the backgorund you will be able to make out the buildings of the town just there. And it's quite a nice, pleasant change to have a morning where there are such good conditions for photography. It isn't every day that this happens, as you know.

cabot tower signal hill cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

One advantage of having a decent camera with a decent telephoto zoom lens is that you can crop sections out of photographs and enlarge them, and the loss of quality is acceptable. This is really useful if, on examining your photos at a later date, you see something of interest in the background. You are able to enlarge it so that you can see what it is.

This building was on the headland and it caught my eye. And I'll tell you all about it later as it is one of the places that we are going to see.

lighthouse cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

There are a couple of exciting things to see here on Cape Spear, and the collection of lighthouses is just one of them. And that's hardly surprising. Here we are, the farthest easternmost land in North America with the next land to the east being Ireland some 1900 miles away, and a couple of rocky headlands right by an important sheltered harbour. A lighthouse would be mandatory just here.

In fact there isn't just one lighthouse here - there are in fact two of them

lighthouse cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

This one is the original lighthouse. It was the second lighthouse to be built in Newfoundland, being built in the period 1834-1836, and the oldest still surviving. The light originally functioned on oil, and one can immediately suggest that that it might have been whale oil that was used, given the amount of whaling that used to go on around here. It was converted to run on acetylene in 1916, but in 1930 electricity finally arrived.

The lens that was in it during its final years of operation was not the original, and the original lens was not new. That particular lens was bought second-hand from a lighthouse in Scotland.

There was (and maybe still is, for all I know) a diaphone here - a two-tone compressed air foghorn of the type that was common in Newfoundland and Labrador. This was added in 1878.

Many of you will have travelled with me on my various journeys around the coast of Maritime Canada and will have seen enough lighthouses with me to know that each light has its own distinctive flash sequence, so that mariners in the dark will be able to tell which light is which. This one had a light cycle of one minute, of which 17 seconds was a continuous flash followed by 43 seconds of darkness. You might be interested to know that the mechanism worked by clockwork. It must have been a pretty big key.

The light was retired from service in 1955 and has been restored to its original condition. It is now a museum and was probably closed, knowing how the tourist season seems to work around here. Mind you, I do admit that I made no effort to find out.

modern lighthouse cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

The second lighthouse on the site was built as recently as 1955, and is an unmanned (or maybe I should say unpersonned) tower. An interesting fact is that the light itself was not new - they took the light out of the older lighthouse. It must be quite a coincidence, two lighthouses being on the same site at different periods and both being built with second-hand lights.

I once saw a photograph of this lighthouse, dating back quite a while, and in the background was one of the very tall red-and-white radio masts that I've been seeing all over Newfoundland and Labrador and which I've come to recognise as Loran C radio masts. However, there was no trace of it here today, even though the Loran C system was still (but only just) working.

10 inch gun battery fortifications cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

As well as the lighthouses we have one of the many gun batteries that are to be found all along the coast of North America. The UK, as you know, is not at all self-sufficient and in the old days relied heavily upon its colonies to supply the food and raw materials that it needed and to supply a market for manufactured goods. After all, what are colonies for? The principle still works even today, as the Americans are demonstrating in their new colonies of Iraq, Afghanistan and lately Libya.

The possession of colonies requires a very strong maritime presence and that of the UK in the first part of the 20th Century was the strongest of all. But its military might was stretched to the limit and the Germans knew this. The major battle-plan of the German forces in World War II vis-a-vis the British was to starve them into submission and with the U-boat fleet they had the capability to do it.

In the first half of the war they were in with a fighting chance of doing it too and the North Atlantic was a happy hunting ground indeed for many a U-boat. Some of the more daring skippers took the fight right up to the North American coastline and there were even reports of U-boat torpedoes running ashore having missed their target.

Having lost a large part of its military hardware in Northern France in 1940, the UK was obliged to turn to the USA to purchase replacement equipment and we have already talked about the Atlantic Ferry . The Americans had a good scrape around and found all sorts of obsolete equipment for the British. After all, a 99-year lease on a pile of British naval and military outposts was a good deal for outdated equipment that the Americans were never likely to be using.

10 inch gun battery fortifications cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

Here at Cape Spear is a coastal battery consisting of two guns, said to be of 10-inch calibre - that were made in 1891. As part of the lend-lease agreement between the UK and the USA the Americans sent them here in 1941 and they were installed on the headland just here above the entrance to St Johns Harbour.

The guns could be raised and lowered and were mounted on a kind of turntable so as to give an arc of fire around the mouth of the harbour.

10 inch gun battery fortifications cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

This is the second gun position and the gun pit here is covered over. I'm told that the gun is down there somewhere but I can't remember now whether I saw it or not.

It is said that prior to coming here the guns were being used to protect the city of Philadelphia. Although to protect it against whom and what exactly, I never did find out. Philadelphia is miles up the Delaware River from the coast and for a hostile fleet to penetrate that deeply into the interior of the USA there would have had to have been a calamity.

10 inch gun battery fortifications entrance tunnel cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

A little further round the headland there was a tunnel that had been carved into the rock and then reinforced. I suppose it was considered dangerous for military personnel to be running around in the open when there was a possibility that someone might be likely to fire at them.

Mind you, while the guns of U-boats were much more impressive that is commonly given credit, at this height and angle of elevation there wouldn't be much risk of any serious damage.

10 inch gun battery fortifications subterranean storage chamber cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

This is some kind of storeroom I reckon. It's dug well into the back of the rock face and roofed over by corruged iron, I suppose, in the nissen hut style. There was some kind of grille across the entrance that prevented me from going any closer to take a better look.

It's not in direct line of sight of the open air and so my guess, if I have to give one, is that this may well be the explosives store. You don't want a stray shell or a lucky hit from a hostile vessel offshore to find its way into here. That would be a calamity too.

10 inch gun battery fortifications subterranean office cape spear newfoundland canada october octobre 2010

This room is in direct line of sight of the open air. It's right behind one of the guns and you can tell its relative position by looking at one of the photos of the guns above.

For that reason I imagine that it would be the accommodation of the Officer of the Watch. He would be in there in command of a platoon of soldiers, some of whom would be patrolling the headland to keep saboteurs and Fifth Columnists away, and the remaining soldiers would be scanning the horizon for ships - logging friendly ones and firing at hostile ones.

There were many other buildings here too for the benefit of the troops that were mann ... errr ... personning the gun here. These were however of the typical temporary army nissen hut type all scattered around the area. They were all flattened after the war.

There is no doubt that the U-boats scared the Newfoundland and Labrador government to death. Just to give one example of many, on the night of 4th September 1942 under cover of a storm, U-513 (Rolf Ruggeberg) brazenly sailed on the surface into Conception Bay and torpedoed two freighters, the Saganaug and the Lord Strathcona. He would probably still be there now had he not been rammed accidentally by an unknown freighter fleeing "any old how" from the carnage.

And now, having fully explored Cape Spear as best as I can, my next port ... "Groan" - ed ... of call will be the across to the other side of the bay.

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