Provincial Historic Site
 
Shipwrecks
The 19th and 20th centuries carried with them much activity relating to maritime history. The people who have worked and lived at the lighthouse in Point Amour have witnessed several marine disasters over this time, and have played a key role in some of the rescue missions.
 
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On September 16, 1889, the 720 ton British Naval vessel, HMS Lily, was attempting to intercept a mail ship en-route from Montreal to Great Britain. Powered by sails and engines, the Lily had left Brig Bay, Newfoundland, and was steaming into Forteau Bay in a thick blanket of fog when it ran aground near Point Amour. The nearby fog horn could not be heard above the roar of the sea and the noise of confusion aboard the boat. Thomas Wyatt, the light-keeper at the time, along with his assistants, heard the firing of the guns from the distressed ship, and ran to assist with the rescue. Although the ship was only 150 feet from shore, seven men lost their lives in the heavy sea. As the Lily sank to the bottom, with only its masts above the ocean, Thomas Wyatt got a line to the ship and rescued four men who were clinging on to the gear. The British Admiralty credited Mr. Wyatt as being a hero, and presented him with a clock in appreciation of his help with the rescue, and his care of the survivors of HMS Lily.
On August 08, 1922, the wreck of the 12,000 ton British warship, known as the HMS Raleigh, became the most famous marine disaster in the history of the Strait of Belle Isle.
 
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Launched just three years before, this 605 foot, 700 crew vessel was on its way from Port Saunders, Newfoundland, toward Forteau Bay where officers would go for salmon and trout fishing. In heavy fog, the Raleigh approached its destination, barely missing a massive iceberg that was in its path. While avoiding this collision, the ship went into shallow waters, and the rocks of Forteau Bay ripped a 360 foot gash through the belly of the Raleigh. The speed and size of the ship grounded it near Point Amour Lighthouse, just 200 yards from shore. Eleven lives were lost as a result of this wreck. The remaining officers and crewmen, some 680 plus individuals, spent that night scattered about the buildings of the Point Amour Light-station.

To commemorate the wreck of the HMS Raleigh and its significance to the history of Point Amour, a re-enactment of the event takes place at the site every year on its anniversary. Throughout the rest of the season, one can follow the "Raleigh Trail" to the site of these two famous wrecks.
 
Other Marine Disasters
On September 24, 1895, the SS Mariposa was en-route from Montreal to Liverpool, carrying 24 passengers, 2164 sheep, and a load of grain. Strong currents near Grassy Point (between L'Anse au Clair and Forteau) pushed the ship on a reef as it was travelling at a reduced speed in heavy fog. The following day, all passengers and crew were brought to shore, one by one, using a narrow board that was suspended from a rope and attached to a "block and tackle" rig. With a distance of 600 feet from ship to shore, there were thankfully no casualties from this wreck.

During World War I, enemy submarines were a threat in the Strait of Belle Isle region. The keepers of Point Amour Lighthouse were compensated to be on guard for potential sightings. Although nothing was reported during this time, World War II brought many German "U" ships to the Labrador Coast.

On September 26, 1941, a convoy passing through the Straits was alerted that a submarine had been sighted. Amidst the panic and confusion, four ships ran aground on the same day in the Point Amour area.

  • The Empire Kudu and the South Wales went ashore where the HMS Raleigh had grounded. One ship was carrying a load of scrap iron, while the other had a load of grain.
  • The Empire Mallard sank just south west of Point Amour, while a fourth ship, the Culebra, went aground on the other side of Forteau Bay toward L'Anse au Clair.

It is also important to note that many small fishing vessels and local lives have been lost in the stormy waters of the Strait of Belle Isle. But time and time again, the Point Amour Lighthouse has fulfilled its purpose of guiding ships safely to shore.
 
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