A decade later, Ferryland lighthouse is still dining success
Tourists flock to Newfoundland in the summer to see whales, seabirds and icebergs. But freshly-made picnic lunches have also been luring tourists and locals to the Ferryland lighthouse for the past decade.
The lighthouse began operating in 1870 as a navigational beacon. The federal government wanted to tear down the lighthouse and the accompanying house in 1969 until the local community objected. The lighthouse then became fully automated in 1970.
The automation meant that lighthouse keepers were no longer needed. So the house fell into disrepair until Jill Curran stepped in to lease and restore the buildings. They also saved the lighthouse with a culinary plan for a picnic service there.
"It's been a large part of Newfoundland tradition to have picnics," says Curran. "So we just put a unique twist on it."
People dine on ham and brie sandwiches on homemade bread, bakeapple tarts and freshly-squeezed lemonade. Without any advertising, the lunches from Lighthouse Picnics have become so popular that reservations are necessary.
Besides the food, visitors are also thrilled by scenery.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Beverley Dean, a tourist from Lexington, Kentucky. "It's absolutely breathtaking. Beautiful. We've seen whales and we've seen puffins. It's just beautiful."
Lighthouse Picnics was inspired by a love of Ferryland and Curran's family connection to the lighthouse.
Her great-grandfather, William Costello was the lighthouse keeper and her grandmother was born in the lighthouse.
The federal government transferred ownership of the lighthouse and residence to the town two years ago. Curran now leases the house from Ferryland.
Throughout Canada, there are hundreds of lighthouses the federal government has deemed as surplus.
Curran hopes that more towns and community groups will step forward to save them.
"They're stunning buildings in stunning locations," said Curran. "There is life for these buildings after they've housed staff for the Coast Guard. I'm sure of it."
With files from Vik Adhopia