Fort Cape Spear

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

black and white image of a large cannon
One of the two 10" guns in firing position.

During the Second World War, a very different kind of danger focused activities at Cape Spear. On a direct convoy route from Europe to the North American continent, Cape Spear took on a whole new significance. German submarines and raiders off the coast of the Island posed a considerable threat.

Members of the 103rd Coastal Artillery of the Royal Canadian Artillery were based at Cape Spear to maintain the 10" guns.

A coastal defence battery, equipped with two 10" guns was constructed here to protect the entrance to St. John's Harbour. The gun emplacements were built at the tip of the Cape and connected by underground passages to magazine and equipment rooms.

From 1941 to 1945, troops were stationed here, and barracks, mess halls and canteens were built. With the end of hostilities in 1945, most of the fortifications were demolished but the gun emplacements stand as a sombre reminder of that important period in our military history.

Today, the bunkers and gun barrels provide a sheltered view of the ocean. No longer watching for the enemy, visitors survey the horizon for whales, icebergs, seabirds and ships headed in and out of St. John's harbour.

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