Culture of Outports is an initiative that uses cultural planning and architectural thinking to contribute to communities in Canada’s historic outports. In 2012 we led a “community build” project in Brigus, Nfld., a historic fishing community looking to develop new, sustainable strategies for its post-fisheries culture and economy.

In this project, we worked with Brigus residents and a group of Ryerson University students to study the history and significance of the town and to build a small-scale intervention on a historic lighthouse trail. This intervention, a bright red deck on a rocky outcrop, has inspired increased use of the trail and various programming initiatives for locals and tourists. Modest interventions like this can be the first step in stimulating local cultural and business activity.

Founded as an English Colony in 1612, Brigus is one of the oldest European settlements in Canada. It was long a fishing and sealing port, but with the cod moratorium in 1992, Brigus, like many outport communities, lost its economic base and began to see a steady decline in population and activity.

At the time of our research, the lighthouse trail, despite its cultural history and rich possibilities, had become underused and difficult to identify. In consultation with the community, our team decided to attempt to bring more awareness to the trail to encourage its use and stimulate local and tourist engagement in this important cultural resource. The site we selected is nestled in the trail’s the rocky terrain, affords views of the ocean and town, and is surrounded by low-lying bushes and berry patches.

View GPS data trail by pasting this link into Google Maps:

The decking we built is meant as a destination point, a gathering place, a lookout, and a visual reminder of the trail itself. Its design plays off local wood construction such as docks, boardwalks, and piers, and incorporates the use of traditional drystone walls. The bright red colour refers to the red of the lighthouse and makes the deck visible from many points on the trail and across the bay.

View our time-lapsed construction video on youtube:

Since the structure was built, the Brigus community has taken the initiative to further develop the lighthouse trail, allowing greater accessibility and awareness of a significant cultural resource and heritage landscape.

© Copyright © 2013 ERA Architects Inc.