The Ghost of Point Amour

By Lori-lee Thomas

Point Amour Lighthouse

The Strait of Belle Isle has seen its fair share of sea vessels in its murky waters. A narrow channel of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) separates the island of Newfoundland, Canada, and its provincial counterpart of Labrador. It has been used for centuries to transport goods to and from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, and for fishing its rich waters. I grew up in this area, with a fisherman father and mother; saltwater is in my veins.

So upon completing my fine arts degree in 2010, I returned to my childhood stomping grounds to host a series of art exhibits honoring the area which I called home. One of my exhibitions was held at Point Amour Lighthouse, where I got to stay for two nights…alone.

You see, there were talks of ghosts in this area, specifically at this lighthouse; the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, and second tallest in the country. It was the rough waters and jagged rocks of the straits that required a beacon 108 feet (33 meters) high to safely guide ships on their destination. But not all of these ships were so lucky—which brings us to the shipwreck of Captain Johnson.

There is word of a Nova Scotian sea captain that ventured the straits around 1860. It was a stormy night, and for some reason Captain Johnson could not view the lighthouse beacon. It was said that he, along with his entire crew, ran aground and perished in the deep waters off the southern coast of Labrador where Point Amour is located. Why did this happen? Well the story I have heard is that the lighthouse keeper at the time had recently received his yearly supply of rum, and obliged himself—perhaps a little too much. That blustery evening, instead of climbing the 132 steps to re-light the lighthouse beacon, he was fast asleep down below at his home and station. Captain Johnson was doomed.

Since that horrible night, the locals and lighthouse keepers thereafter have been seeing things at Point Amour Lighthouse. Reports of Capt. Johnson’s ghastly apparition appeared on wild and stormy nights dressed in a sou’wester hat and oil cloths. Some heard sounds of anchor chains clinking and clanking as he roamed the premises looking for the lighthouse keeper who sealed his doom with one too many glasses of rum. I have also learned that if you ever run into this ghostly captain, to simply say, “I am not the lighthouse keeper,” so that his spirit can continue his quest.

During the two nights in which I stayed at this forlorn place, it was both foggy and sunny. Though it had an eerie look about it, it was equally majestic. I walked the shorelines well into the evening, searching for something, anything to make evident that this apparent ghost was still there. I saw nothing. Hopefully one day I will get to meet the ghost of Capt. Johnson, whose body, ship, and crew lie in a watery grave in the Straits of Belle Isle.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Volume 38 September/October 2023.

Photo by Lori-lee Thomas.

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