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Old Perlican, NF  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Old Perlican Lighthouse

The fishing village of Old Perlican is located on the Avalon Peninsula not far from the entrance to Trinity Bay. The settlement started in the seventeenth century as a summer fishery station for migratory fishermen from England and was the largest such station on Trinity Bay. Known originally as Parlican and then Perlican, the settlement became Old Perlican after New Perlican was established farther up the bay.

Perlican Island, which is nearly circular in shape, is situated just offshore from the village and affords some protection to the harbour. In 1910, a lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling were built on Perlican Island. A 1912 almanac provides the following description of the new light station:

Occulting White light, 4th order dioptric, with alternate equal periods of 2 ˝ seconds light and dark. Octagonal Tower (wood) with sloping sides, painted red and white vertically; drum and lantern white. A flat roofed dwelling house at S.E. angle of, and a store a short distance southward from tower, painted white.

Stephen Cram served as the first keeper of the light, and he was followed by his son William, who looked after the light until 1931, when the light was automated. The keeper’s dwelling on the island was demolished in 1936, but the wooden, octagonal tower remained standing until at least 1960. At some point, a red-and-white-banded circular tower was placed on the island, as a 1995 Light List describes such a structure. A square, skeletal tower, with a red-and-white-daymark was displaying a flashing white light on the island in 2020.

Frank Cram, son of keeper Stephen Cram, wrote this poem about his childhood on the Perlican Island:

There are houses built for pleasure
And monuments stand for fame,
But a lighthouse stands for something
Far greater than a name.
To guide the ships and sailors
In storms as they sail on,
Gives joy to overflowing,
They set their course there from.

From sundown until sunrise,
As the lonely hours go by,
The light sends out its previous beams
Across the northern sky.
The sea gulls and the night hawks
Fly pass the window pane,
To break the lonely silence,
But gives company just the same.

As night and day, day and night,
Continue into years.
They keep their lonely vigil
With all their doubts and fears.
The storms beat on the windows,
And whistle in the grooves,
But the family nestles around the fire
In ecstasy of love.

I spent some years in a lighthouse,
And the lines I write are true,
And I'll never, never forget it
Though my years be long or few.
The keeper of this lighthouse
With his angelic wife
Had sailed the seas for many years
In storms and sunshine bright.

The tending of a lighthouse
On an island in the deep
Seems simple to many landsmen
As they rest in their gentle sleep.
But the weary sleepless sailors,
They sometimes cry for joy
When the man up in the lookout,
Hails the Captain- "Light ahoy."

The memories of those happy days
Makes one break into song,
Although there was no radio
To pass the time along.
But we had the stars and the big round moon
To cheer us on our way,
And were happy as we waited
For the mail to come someday.

As we read aloud and sang the songs,
Of many long years ago,
The waves would gently wash the beach
And set the heart aglow.
So soothing to the nerves and brain,
Words cannot express
The wonderful tranquility
Of peace and happiness.

High winds and storms did not upset
The lives within those walls,
With shutters to the windows,
We listened to the squalls
And prayed for all the mariners
That came from- Oh so far.
The light shone like a beacon,
To be their guiding star.

As years passed on, this haven of rest
No longer held me down.
For war clouds started to gather
And mothers began to frown.
God bless you all, as I said good-bye.
They kissed and shook my hand,
The bells rang out come back again
To dear old Newfoundland

Keepers: Stephen Cram (1910 – 1922), William Cram (1922 – 1931).

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Pictures on this page copyright Canadian Coast Guard, JACLAY, used by permission.
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