Lighthouse at Cap-des-Rosiers, 1965
Canadian Government Travel Bureau
Les Amis des Jardins de Métis Collection
What manmade feature near Gaspé is almost as popular as Percé Rock? The correct response is: the lighthouse at Cap-des-Rosiers.
At 34.1 metres in height, the Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse is the tallest in Canada and the highest structure for miles. Because the bay in Gaspé was such an important and accessible anchorage, ship traffic was particularly heavy in this region of the coastline. This lighthouse had special importance and was positioned to be seen from afar. Built in 1858, it is one of the oldest in Canada. Its unique stone exterior set it apart from other lighthouses, built either of wood or cement. It is also one of the few lighthouses that still has all of its original equipment intact.
For all of these reasons the Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse was one of the first to be recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. Built as navigational aids, with the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS) to guide vessels, lighthouses are no longer essential for ships or shipping. Most have been sold by the government of Canada to local organizations dedicated to their maintenance and preservation. Because of their age and exposure to the elements, lighthouses are among the most fragile buildings and very costly structures to maintain, requiring scaffolding or cranes for most of the work. Even lighthouses as popular as Cap-des-Rosiers have difficulty making ends meet, because the cost of maintaining such historic structures is significant.
Few features of the coastal landscape have more allure than lighthouses. Built for mariners, most landlubbers like them too.