Cabot Island: The Alex Gill Story.


154 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 978-1-897317-03-4
DDC 387.1'550922718





Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R. Gordon Moyles is professor emeritus of English at the University of
Alberta, co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities: British
Views of Canada, 1880–1914, and author of The Salvation Army and the


The importance of lighthouses and the ingenuity and courage of lighthouse keepers have been legendary ingredients of Newfoundland culture. This book adds yet another fascinating story to the many that already celebrate the men (sometimes the families) who braved loneliness, powerful storms, and death to keep the sea-lanes safe on those treacherous coasts.


In 1954 Alex and Bert Gill manned the lighthouse on Cabot Island just southeast of Cape Freels in Bonavista Bay. On November 27, Alex suddenly died, leaving his brother, Bert, to tend the light and “lay out” his brother in the midst of one of the worst storms of the year—a storm that prevented anyone from coming to his rescue. It is a story well-told. It’s meticulous in its detail, sympathetic (but not cloying) in its depiction of brotherly love, suspenseful in its description of the storm, and enlightening in its portrayal of the duties and challenges of the lighthouse keepers.


“’Tis an awful lonely way for a man to live,” says Bert—and it is made even lonelier by the knowledge that his brother lies dead nearby. But many families endured this loneliness both to make a living and to ensure the safety of Newfoundland’s sailors and fishermen. They deserve to be remembered.


Collins, Gary., “Cabot Island: The Alex Gill Story.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,