Exploring 47 Must-Visit National Historic Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador

Historic sites of newfoundland and labrador


Embark on a captivating journey through the storied past of Newfoundland and Labrador as we explore 47 must-visit national historic sites scattered across this captivating Canadian province. From ancient indigenous settlements to colonial-era landmarks, each site offers a window into the region's rich cultural heritage and historical significance.

1. Basilica of St. John the Baptist:

Basilica of St. John the Baptist-NL

Nestled in the heart of St. John's, the Basilica of St. John the Baptist stands as a testament to the enduring faith and architectural splendor of Newfoundland and Labrador. This magnificent cathedral, constructed in the mid-19th century, boasts stunning Gothic Revival-style architecture and is adorned with intricate details both inside and out. Visitors can marvel at the soaring spires and exquisite stained glass windows, as well as explore the rich history and spiritual significance of this iconic landmark.

2. Battle Harbour Historic District:

Battle Harbour Historic District-Newfoundland-Labrador

Step back to the golden age of Newfoundland's maritime industry with a visit to the Battle Harbour Historic District. Situated on a remote island off the coast of Labrador, this meticulously preserved historic district offers a glimpse into the bustling life of a 19th-century fishing community. Wander through charming wooden buildings, including the restored fishing stages, salt stores, and merchant premises, and imagine life in this remote outpost during its heyday. Guided tours provide insight into the area's maritime heritage and the role it played in the economic and social fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador.

3. Boyd's Cove Beothuk:

Boyd's Cove Beothuk-Neofoundland heritage site

Delve into the ancient history of Newfoundland and Labrador at the Boyd's Cove Beothuk Site, where archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of one of the island's earliest indigenous cultures. This National Historic Site features a reconstructed Beothuk village, complete with traditional dwellings and interpretive exhibits that shed light on the daily life and cultural practices of these indigenous peoples. Guided tours offer insight into the Beothuk way of life and the challenges they faced in the wake of European contact.

4. Cable Building - Bay Roberts:

Cable building - bay robert- NL

Constructed in 1913, the Cable Building in Bay Roberts in Newfoundland served as a vital telecommunications hub in the early 20th century. It played a crucial role as the main relay for the transatlantic network of the Western Union Telegraph Company, connecting North America to Europe. Today, visitors can explore this historic building and learn about its significance in shaping global communication networks.

5. Cape Pine Lighthouse:

Perched on the rugged cliffs of Newfoundland's southern coast, Cape Pine Lighthouse has guided sailors safely through treacherous waters for generations. Built-in 1851, this iconic landmark offers stunning panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and serves as a reminder of the region's maritime heritage. Visitors can tour the lighthouse and learn about its history, as well as enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

6. Cape Race Lighthouse:

Cape_race_lighthouse_Newfoundland historic sites

Located on the southeastern tip of Newfoundland, Cape Race Lighthouse has played a crucial role in maritime navigation for over a century. First lit in 1907, this historic lighthouse has witnessed countless ships passing through its waters, including the ill-fated Titanic in 1912. Visitors can explore the lighthouse and museum, and learn about its role in maritime history, as well as enjoy sweeping views of the rugged coastline.

7. Cape Spear Lighthouse:

Capespear_lighthouse_newfoundland historic site

Perched on the easternmost point of North America, Cape Spear Lighthouse stands as a beacon of maritime history. Built in 1836, it is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador, guiding ships safely through the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic. Visitors can explore the lighthouse and museum, learn about its storied past, and enjoy breathtaking views of the rugged coastline.

8. Castle Hill:

Castle_Hill_newfoundland historic site

Nestled on the shores of Placentia Bay, Castle Hill is a testament to Newfoundland and Labrador's colonial past. This National Historic Site was once a strategic military outpost, serving as the site of numerous conflicts between European powers vying for control of the region. Visitors can explore the ruins of the fortifications, learn about the area's military history, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

9. Christ Church / Quidi Vidi Church:


Immerse yourself in Newfoundland's rich musical heritage with a night of traditional music and storytelling. Whether it's a lively kitchen party in a local pub or a performance by talented musicians at one of the province's many festivals, Newfoundland's music scene offers a unique blend of Celtic, folk, and maritime influences that is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

10. Colony of Avalon:

Colony of avalon_Historic sites of newfoundland - labrador

Located in the picturesque town of Ferryland, the Colony of Avalon is a meticulously reconstructed 17th-century settlement that offers visitors a window into Newfoundland's early European history. Founded by the British in 1621, this historic site features archaeological digs, interpretive exhibits, and reconstructed buildings, including a stone fort and a merchant's house. Visitors can explore the site's rich history and learn about the daily life of its early inhabitants through guided tours and interactive demonstrations.

11. Crow's Nest Officers' Club:

Established as a seafaring officer's club amidst the tumult of the Second World War, this establishment provided solace and camaraderie to men hailing from Allied navies. Each vessel's crew was granted the opportunity to embellish a section of its walls, thereby immortalizing their ship's memory. Today, this club, adorned with military memorabilia and artwork, stands as a poignant testament to the valiant naval efforts of wartime.

12. Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries:

Fleur de Lys-Newfoundland

Located on the northern coast of Newfoundland, the Fleur de Lys Soapstone Quarries are a testament to the island's rich geological history and indigenous heritage. For centuries, the indigenous peoples of Newfoundland quarried soapstone from these cliffs to create tools, carvings, and ceremonial objects. Today, visitors can explore the quarries and marvel at the ancient carvings and petroglyphs that adorn the rock faces, offering a glimpse into the lives and traditions of Newfoundland's earliest inhabitants.

13. Former Bank of British North America, St. Johns:

Former_Bank_of_British_North_America_Historic Sites Newfoundland-labrador

As you visit the Former Bank of British North America in St. John's, step back in time. This three-and-a-half-story brick building, adorned with Italianate features and a mansard roof, was home to many of Newfoundland's major banks from 1849 to 1985. It is a testament to the evolution of banking in Newfoundland, bearing witness to the province's economic growth and development over the years.

14. Former Carbonear Railway Station (Newfoundland Railway):

CarbonearNL_RailwayStation_newfoundland historic sites

Experience the charm of Newfoundland's railway history at the Former Carbonear Railway Station. This one-story, wood-frame building with a hip roof and overhanging eaves is a quintessential example of early-20th-century rural railway stations across Canada. As you explore its corridors, you'll be transported to a bygone era, where the rhythmic chug of locomotives echoed through the countryside.

15. Former Newfoundland Railway Headquarters:

Delve into the legacy of the Newfoundland Railway at its former headquarters. This two-and-a-half-story stone building, showcasing both Second Empire and Château design elements, commemorates the railway's pivotal role in shaping the social, economic, and political landscape of the province. From transporting goods to connecting communities, the Newfoundland Railway left an indelible mark on Newfoundland and Labrador's history.

16. Fort Amherst:

Perched at the mouth of St. John's harbor lies the site of Fort Amherst, a British fortification with a history that stretches back to the 18th century. Although the fort itself has left no visible remains, its legacy is deeply intertwined with the military history of Newfoundland. Named after William Amherst, the commander who recaptured St. John's from the French in 1762, Fort Amherst played a crucial role in protecting the harbor from foreign invasions. Today, visitors to the site can immerse themselves in the stories of past conflicts and the strategic importance of this location in the defense of St. John's.

17. Fort Townshend:

Site_of_Fort_Townshend_historic sites Newfoundland labrador

Hidden beneath the modern facade of The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador's largest public cultural space, lies the archaeological remnants of Fort Townshend. This site once housed a British fort that served as the nerve center for the Newfoundland garrison from 1779 until 1871. Although the fort has been replaced by contemporary structures, the archaeological site offers a unique glimpse into the military operations and daily life of the soldiers stationed here. Exploring Fort Townshend allows visitors to connect with the strategic military history of Newfoundland and the role it played in the broader context of British colonial defense mechanisms.

18. Fort William:

Harbour_from_a_Little_Below_Fort_William-Newfoundland - labrador

The original military bastion of St. John's, Fort William, marks a site of significant historical and military importance. Established as the headquarters of the British garrison in Newfoundland, Fort William was a focal point of defense that experienced three French attacks. Its presence underscored the strategic military importance of St. John's as a fortified location. By the 1770s, Fort William was overshadowed by the more strategically positioned Fort Townshend and was eventually demolished in 1881. The site of Fort William serves as a poignant reminder of the early military presence in Newfoundland and the ongoing conflicts that shaped the history of this region.

19. Government House:


The original military bastion of St. John's, Fort William, marks a site of significant historical and military importance. Established as the headquarters of the British garrison in Newfoundland, Fort William was a focal point of defense that experienced three French attacks. Its presence underscored the strategic military importance of St. John's as a fortified location. By the 1770s, Fort William was overshadowed by the more strategically positioned Fort Townshend and was eventually demolished in 1881. The site of Fort William serves as a poignant reminder of the early military presence in Newfoundland and the ongoing conflicts that shaped the history of this region.

20. Harbour Grace Court House:

Harbour_Grace_Court_House_historic sites NL

The Harbour Grace Court House stands as the oldest surviving public building in Newfoundland and Labrador. This two-storey stone structure, distinguished by its unique split staircase leading to the main entrance, embodies the architectural and historical essence of the province. Located in the scenic town of Harbour Grace, the courthouse has witnessed numerous significant legal proceedings that have shaped the course of local history.

Today, the Harbour Grace Court House serves as a powerful reminder of the province's legal and civic history, drawing visitors who are keen to explore the intricacies of Newfoundland and Labrador's past. Its enduring presence and architectural beauty make it a must-visit landmark for anyone interested in the province's heritage.

21. Hawthorne Cottage:

Hawthorne_Cottage_Brigus_Newfoundland_historic sites

Hawthorne Cottage, once the home of famed Arctic explorer Robert Bartlett, offers a picturesque view into the life of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most celebrated sons. Located in Brigus, this charming cottage, complete with a wrap-around verandah, is enveloped in the tranquility and beauty that must have provided solace and inspiration to Bartlett upon his return from the harsh Arctic.

Today, Hawthorne Cottage serves as a museum, celebrating the adventurous spirit of Robert Bartlett and the explorations that contributed significantly to our understanding of the Arctic. Visitors to the cottage can immerse themselves in the life of an Arctic explorer and the rich maritime history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

These sites are just a few of the historical treasures found in Newfoundland and Labrador. Each offers a unique window into the province's past, from the governance and legal proceedings to the adventurous spirit of its people. Visiting these sites provides not only a deeper appreciation for the province's history but also a connection to the stories and legacies that have shaped Newfoundland and Labrador into what it is today.

22. Hebron Mission:


Situated amidst the breathtaking scenery of Labrador, Hebron Mission stands as a testament to the Moravian Church's influence on the local Inuit community. Comprising a cluster of interconnected buildings, including a church, mission house, and store, the mission served as a hub for religious instruction, commerce, and healthcare. Its distinctive Germanic-influenced architecture reflects the cultural exchange between European missionaries and indigenous peoples, making it a fascinating site for visitors to explore.

23. Hopedale Mission:

Hopedale mission-NL historic sites

Located on the shores of Labrador's pristine coastline, Hopedale Mission is a striking example of Moravian Church architecture. The complex of large, wooden buildings, constructed by missionaries in the 18th century, bears witness to the enduring relationship between the Labrador Inuit and the Moravian Church. Visitors can learn about the history of missionary activity in the region, as well as explore the beautifully preserved buildings and grounds.

24. Indian Point:

Indian point-NL historic sites

Nestled along the rugged coastline of Newfoundland, Indian Point is a well-documented Beothuk site that offers a glimpse into the lives of Newfoundland's indigenous peoples. This ancient campsite, where the Beothuk wintered in multi-sided mamateeks and hunted caribou, provides valuable insights into their culture and way of life. Visitors can explore the archaeological remains of the site and learn about the Beothuk's rich heritage through interpretive exhibits and guided tours.

25. Kitjigattalik - Ramah Chert Quarries:

Torngat Mountains National Park

Located amidst the breathtaking landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Kitjigattalik - Ramah Chert Quarries offers a glimpse into the region's ancient past. This quarry, once active from 5,000 to 600 years ago, produced unique chert that was widely traded in eastern America. Linked to Late Archaic burial complexes and belief systems, it served as the basis for long-distance exchange between eastern Canada and New England, highlighting the intricate networks of trade and culture in prehistoric times.

26. Kitjigattalik - Ramah Chert Quarries:

L'Anse Amour burial mound-Historic Places NL

Steeped in history and mystery, L'Anse Amour stands as a testament to Newfoundland and Labrador's rich heritage. This site is home to the first known settlement established by Vikings in North America, dating back over a thousand years. It contains the earliest evidence of Europeans in Canada and has been designated as a World Heritage Site, attracting visitors from around the globe to explore its ancient ruins and unravel the secrets of its past.

27. Mallard Cottage::

Nestled along the picturesque coastline of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mallard Cottage is a charming example of vernacular housing built by Irish immigrants in the 19th century. This wood-frame house with a hip roof and central chimney reflects the architectural style typical of the era and offers a glimpse into the daily life of early settlers. Visitors can tour the cottage, explore its historical artifacts, and immerse themselves in the rich heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador

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