Ed and Pat Kidder Retire from Nootka Lightstation
When a water taxi took the latest Coast Guard retirees from Friendly Cove to Gold River on May 3rd, a lightkeeping era ended. Over their 42 year career on the lights—the last 33 at Nootka lightstation—B.C.’s senior keepers Ed and Pat Kidder have seen many technical and political changes.
Two of the lights they tended have been destaffed. Ed was 19 and Pat 18 when they brought their newborn son Dean to Gallows Point in Nanaimo Harbour. The light was an Aladdin-type that sometimes smoked when the pressure changed, and blackened the tower walls.
At Quatsino Sound’s Kains Island, the only way off was from the rocks by the ship’s surf boat. “When they said ‘jump’ you jumped,” Pat recalls.
At Carmanah, everybody “the boss and the wife and the kids,”rode up and down in the coast’s longest highline (350 feet).
Following Scarlett Point Ed rotated two week shifts at Sandheads Light by Steveston. Pat, Dean and their daughter Petronella lived in Nanaimo.
On May 3rd , while forty (40) staff from the Coast Guard Base at Huron Street and the Bartlett red crew watched, Senator Pat Carney presented Ed Kidder with a Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, one of 17 awarded to veteran lightkeepers for their role in keeping B.C.’s coast safe for mariners.
“Lightkeepers keep people connected,” said Carney, “and no one has done that better than Ed and Pat Kidder.” Article and photographs by Shirley Hewett
Reposted from the Canadian Coast Guard Association (CCGA) Newsletter June 2003