Lighthouse History – 07 – Carmanah Point (1888-04-21 to 1908-11-22)

Lighthouse History – 07 – Carmanah Point (1888-04-21 to 1908-11-22)

The following extracts taken from early Victoria, British Columbia (BC) newspapers are credited to Leona Taylor for her excellent work in indexing the papers. Full information can be found here: “Index of Historical Victoria Newspapers“, 2007-09.

As I was collecting this information from the newspaper archive website, I noticed that many articles were in consecutive order and applied to Carmanah Point (earlier planned at Bonilla Point), so I collected them all together here. It is a bit long, but interesting, as it describes the building of a lighthouse from the ground up as they say. Take note of the dates at the end of each article. it surely was not done overnight. More extensive information can be obtained from the actual scanned copies of the newspapers themselves on the above website.


Bonilla Point


“From all I [Colonist correspondent] can learn there is every prospect of a lighthouse and signal station being erected at Bonilla Point (eventually at Carmanah Point – ed.) at no distant day….  [Colonist, 1888-04-21]”



A lighthouse, steam fog alarm and signal and telegraph station will be erected at Bonilla Point. [Colonist, 1888-08-28]”

“William Smith, deputy minister of marine arrived for the purpose of visiting Bonilla Point and San Juan Harbour to determine the most suitable site for a lighthouse at the entrance to the Straits. Mr Gisborne, Superintendent of Government telegraphs will accompany him… [Colonist, 1888-09-02]

“Many old-timers will remember the gentleman Captain J R Hood, who in 1860 came to Victoria, British Columbia as mate of the British ship Grecian with supplies from London, and material for building the Race rocks and Esquimalt lighthouses (Fisgard lighthouse – ed.). On the voyage, Captain Hood and his crew were 28 days almost perished for water, the bursting of a tank having shortened their supply. A full report of the voyage was published in Aug, 1860 in The Colonist. [Captain Hood was visiting from Walla Walla, Washington Territory] [Colonist, 1889-09-26]”


Dominion government invite tenders up to May 20, for construction of a wooden lighthouse tower, with dwelling, and fog alarm building, at Carmanah Point, near Bonilla Point, on West Coast Vancouver Island. [Colonist, 1890-05-01]


“It is expected that the contract for the Carmanah Point lighthouse, near Bonilla Point, will be awarded by the Dominion Government in the course of the next week. The tenders were all in on the 20th inst. [Colonist, 1890-05-28]”


“W P Daykin, lighthousekeeper at Race Rocks, has been transferred to Carmanah Point, with a salary of $1,200, but he must provide his own assistant. [Colonist, 1890-11-18]”


Steamer Maude leaves tonight for Bonilla Point (Carmanah Point Lighthouse) with men and the finishing building material for the new material for the new lighthouse which is being erected at that point…. and Barclay Sound, with a small cargo of general merchandise. [Colonist, 1891-05-29]


Dominion Government Steamer ‘Douglas’ returned yesterday from Carmanah Point, where she conveyed materials for the new lighthouse. [Colonist, 1891-07-24]”


“Mr Frost, the contractor, has completed the tramway from the beach to the Carmanah Point lighthouse and fog horn station, which is expected to be in complete working order by the 15th inst. [Colonist, 1891-09-01]


Henry Fowke and Henry Pilcher arrived in Nanaimo by the mail stage from Alberni. They report that they belonged to a small trading Sloop which was wrecked near Carmanah lighthouse. They were in the water for 12 hours, and experienced a thrilling adventure. The owner of the Sloop remained on the West Coast and will endeavor to save the vessel. [Colonist, 1892-02-12]


Mr Daykin, keeper of the Carmanah lighthouse, has suffered considerably by thieving Indians, who have helped themselves to Government stores ‘cached’ by him along the telegraph line. 
Schooner Henrietta will probably leave this evening for the West Coast, where she will call at some of the stations, and deliver merchandise for the stores. She will then leave on a sealing cruise. 
Owing to the large quantity of freight to be delivered to the stations on the West Coast, the Canadian Pacific Navigation Co’s Steamer Maude will make 2 regular trips to Barclay Sound every month. 
Steamer Mystery will leave on Mon evening, with a cargo of flour from the Rice mills, for some of the stations on the West Coast. [Colonist, 1892-03-13]


The rough weather on Tues night was responsible for the destruction of 2 fine slps belonging to the San Juan Fishing Co, which went out in the morning, manned by 2 men each, and were dashed ashore near Carmanah lighthouse. The men, by swimming hard, saved their lives. Steamer T W Carter had not yet arrived at the fishing station last evening, but was hourly expected. [Colonist, 1892-03-24]


The little black Sloop Edith, owned and sailed by a fisherman named Stephens, is in trouble with the customs authorities, having been placed under detention yesterday, charged with certain violations of the law, which will be fully investigated before Collector Milne at 10am this morning. Edith, it is claimed, has been a frequent violator of the law, visiting and trading at the West Coast stations without any of the usual formalities being observed. Information is also in the hands of the collector of the operations of another Victoria Sloop whose trips to Barclay Sound and Cape Beale are supposed to have been for the purpose of discharging whiskey cargoes… 
Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas, Captain Walbran, returned from a 10 days’ cruise in Barclay Sound, yesterday afternoon. During her stay in the Sound the new town of Alberni was visited and the buoys, marking the channel across the bar of the Somass River renewed. Dominion Government Steamer ‘Douglas’, from Alberni, proceeded to Castle Islet [Tofino Inlet], and there built a new beacon, 50′ high. This beacon, in conjunction with the one on Round Islet, marks the fairway of the western channel into the Sound. Both beacons were whitewashed. While lying at anchor off Castle Islet a sea otter skin was brought on board for sale, but as the price asked was $100, no purchaser was found. On the return passage Cape Beale and Carmanah lighthouses were visited. Between Cape Beale and Carmanah a small Sloop was seen under the land; upon being examined site turned out to be a fishing boat from Victoria, British Columbia, out since Aug 5. Her crew reported having had a very poor catch. The weather, the first few days of the trip, was wet and stormy, with fog, but the latter part was very fine… [Colonist, 1892-08-20]


West Coast Indians reported to the keeper of the Carmanah lighthouse yesterday that a large ship was ashore in Clayoquot Sound, and likely to prove a total loss. Lightkeeper Daykin sent out one of his sons but was unable to obtain further particulars, which will no doubt be available today. The sum total of the original information is that the ship is ashore and that she is a big one. [Colonist, 1893-01-29]”

“Mr Daykin, the operator and lightkeeper at Carmanah Point, wired last evening that after a very short illness Mr Cox, the keeper of the Cape Beale light, had died at his post of duty during Wed night. Mrs and Miss Cox are at present alone in the lighthouse, where Mr Daykin will join them this morning, remaining until Dominion Government Steamer Quadra reaches the Point with relief. [Colonist, 1894-05-18]


Sep 19, 1894, 8 – Serious Accident – son of Mr Daykin, lighthouse keeper injured at Carmanah… [Colonist, 1894-09-19]


Tragic Accident…; Sep 20 – William Daykin, age 13, native of California, died at Victoria hospital after an accident at Carmanah. Buried at Ross Bay. Pallbearers: Masters F Merryfield, Christopher Loat, F Unwin, C Merryfield, J Renfue, C Urwin. This is the 2nd recent loss in the family, Mr Daykin’s eldest son having been drowned in the surf only a short time ago. Quadra returns to the lighthouse with the disconsolate parents early this morning. A 040 E 27 [Colonist, 1894-09-19]”

“William Daykin, died at Victoria hospital after an accident at Carmanah. Buried at Ross Bay. Pallbearers: Masters F Merryfield, C Loat, F Unwin, C Merryfield, J Renfue and C Urwin. This is the 2nd recent loss in the family, Mr Daykin’s eldest son having been drowned in the surf only a short time ago. Dominion Government Steamer Quadra returns to the lighthouse with the disconsolate parents early this morning. [Colonist, 1894-09-20]


Frank Bishop and William Franklin of Victoria, have been appointed to succeed the late Mr Daykin in charge of Carmanah Point lighthouse. They were taken down to their new quarters by Dominion Government Steamer Quardra. [Colonist, 1894-11-03]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra returned from West Coast Sun. After leaving Victoria a working party was landed at Carmanah lighthouse to build a water tank for the service of the fog alarm; after finishing that, the party was transferred to Cape Beale stn, where other necessary work was carried out during the week. On Quadra’s cruise along the coast the following sealing Schooners were visited: Dora Siewerd and Katharine, Eucluelt; Sapphire and Triumph, Clayoquot; Annie C Moore, Walter L Rich, Oscar & Hattie, Ahouset; Ainoko and Libbie, Hesquiot. Captain Walbran, during the cruise, located and examined the rocks in Barclay Sound not marked on the Admiralty chart. [Colonist, 1895-06-25]


At about 1am this morning Steamer Princess Louise, Captain John Irving, returned from the West Coast, bringing 9 of the crew of the wrecked bark Janet Cowan. The men had been brought to Carmanah lighthouse from the little cabin that for several days had sheltered them, by Lightkeeper Daykin, and at once taken on board ‘Louise’. The party includes JW Taylor, T Duggan, J Hanley, J Chamberlain, C Journeau, J Marshall, A Campbell, R Heron and W Walker. Their story is identical with that of the others of the ship’s company who reached Port Townsend … 
Tugs Pioneer and Holyoke were off the wreck when ‘Louise’ called and Tyee was seen heading that way. Representatives of the customs service were on the beach at the time protesting against the stripping of the vessel by the American craft, but unable to get on board, as Mr Daykin explained, on account of the Capts of the American tugs moving the ladder from the starboard to the port side. The bottom is reported to have fallen out of the ship early on Sun morning, but the wreck is still standing upright with heavy seas washing over her at high tide.  [Colonist, 1896-01-14]


 A dispatch was received from Lighthouse Keeper Daykin at Carmanah Point yesterday, stating that a considerable quantity of wreckage had drifted in there. Among it was part of a canoe, an oar and a mahogany door. From the general appearance of the material Mr Daykin was inclined to believe that it belonged to a sealing schooner, but he failed to find anything that could be identified. That fact that a mahogany door was found sets at rest any uneasiness that might otherwise have been aroused among sealers. Only 3 of the sealing fleet are yet out, Sadie Turpel, Thistle and Dolphin, and they have no such doors as that reported. [Colonist, 1896-10-28]


Tees left lat evening on a special trip to Clayoquot. She carried among her passengers Messrs Thomas Earle, MP, and A Magnesen, who are bound for their cannery, Mr Daykin, the lighthouse keeper at Carmanah, Mr Stone, the storekeeper at Clayoquot – besides a party of prospectors for Port San Juan. [Colonist, 1896-11-28]


Steamer Willapa returned yesterday evening from a trip to the North part of the Island, where she touched at Cape Scott to land a number of settlers for the little colony established there. On her return trip she called in at the West Coast ports and at Hesquiot, spoke the sealing Schooners Ainoka and Beatrice and reports that Otto is at Eucluelet and several sealers at San Juan. She brought back 12 passengers with her, including Mr Daykin, the lighthouse keeper at Carmanah. Word comes to the Colonist from Hesquiot to the effect that on Dec 28(1897) an Indian reported finding on the beach in Hesquiot Harbour the dead body of a man. Next morning Rev Father Brabant and Anton Luckovick went to the place and had the drowned man decently buried. The body was perfectly naked and there was nothing by which to prove its identity. The head was missing and to judge from appearances the body must have been in the water for a while. [Colonist, 1898-01-08]”

“New strikes of copper and coal are reported by arrivals from the West Coast on Willapa yesterday. W P Daykin, the lighthouse keeper at Carmanah Point, was one of those who arrived, and he gives news of one of these recent discoveries. The coal land of which he speaks is at Carmanah Point, close to the lighthouse. He has secured a large section of the land, and is quite enthusiastic over it, coal seams having been found, it is said, over a foot thick… The other strikes reported by Willapa were made at Ucluelet, and these samples of very rich looking copper ore have been taken for an assay to be made in this city. The ore was first discovered by an Indian named Jack Tye, after whom the mine is to be named. Subsequently C Binns and T Thompson located on it, and if the ore proves as rich as is expected, the mine will yet be one of the busy scenes of activity in that locality. Willapa brought back quite a number of passengers from the Coast. Besides Mr Daykin there were the following: J C Anderson, C Rowett, C S Penwill, A Noran, George Brown (who also has been staking off some mineral claims in the vicinity of Alberni), George Clayer, George Hamar, H Newton, E Lyle, J Bates and Captain Hackett, who had been down to Ucluelet to secure hunters for Schooner Walter L Rich. The officers of Steamer bring news of several of the sealing fleet… [Colonist, 1899-05-06]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra is back from a cruise to West Coast lighthouses after a very stormy trip. Quadra reports that Thomas Daykin, keeper of Carmanah lighthouse had a narrow escape from drowning while attempting to remove a quantity of goods from the wrecked barquentine Uncle John. Mr Daykin’s small boat was swamped by the workers and he was thrown into the sea, but he managed to get ashore safely. Uncle John is still visible to passing vessels, but her hull has broken in 2. [Colonist, 1899-12-17]


A telegram from W Daykin, lighthouse keeper at Carmanah gives further particulars of the wreckage found on the West Coast reported by Queen City. A number of planks besides the hatch already mentioned have been picked up, as also a quantity of painted boards. There this is nothing which will serve for purposes of identification.  [Colonist, 1900-01-10]”

In the big storm which raged at the entrance to the Straits on Oct 27, the assistant lighthouse keeper at Cape Flattery and a companion, who were out in an open boat, lost their lives. Their bodies and boat have been picked up on the Vancouver Island coast. On Thurs last Mr Daykin, lightkeeper at Carmanah, wired to the United States Consul that he had in his possession a boat with the words “Flattery Light” painted on it. It had been found by the Indians right-side up and with a number of articles in it. Although slightly damaged, the boat did not appear to have been through much, and the supposition was that it had simply broken from its moorings. This theory was dissipated on Sun, when a wire was received from Neah Bay to the effect that the assistant lightkeeper at Flattery and a companion had left the light in the boat on Oct 27, and had not been heard from since. About the same time a 2nd wire reached Superintendent Hussey, of the provincial police, from Carmanah, stating that the body of a man, without a stitch of clothing on it, had been found on the beach and that the officers of the United States revenue cutter Columbine, calling there in search of the missing boat, had recognized the body a that of the assistant lightkeeper. Yesterday news came from Cape Beale of the finding of the body of the other unfortunate man. When found the head was missing from the body.
The storm of Oct 27 was the worst of the season, even in this city the wind howling along at a 44-mile gait. Vessels which were in the Straits reported that the blow was a terrific one, so there is little wonder that the 2 men in the open boat met with disaster. They were probably washed overboard by the mountainous waves and carried over to the Vancouver Island shores by the wind and sea. The names of the men could not be obtained. [Colonist, 1900-11-06]


Queen City sailed tonight for Cape Scott, Quatsino and way ports of West Coast. On her down trip she will bring a consignment of clams from Quatsino. She will also have a consignment of gold from Wreck Bay. On her last trip she saved the lives of 2 men in the rescue of a Columbia River boat which was threatened with destruction on the breakers at Wreck Bay. A new propeller is being made which is calculated to increase the speed of Steamer 
An immense run of salmon in the Straits was reported by lighthouse keeper Daykin of Carmanah Point yesterday. [Colonist, 1901-07-20]


Quadra which was ordered by Captain Gaudin, local Agent of Marine to investigate the ghastly find reported by Indians near the scene of Valencia wreck returned to port yesterday. The government Steamer did not visit the caves in which the boat, life raft, and skeletons were reported found, but brought a report from Mr W P Daykin, lightkeeper at Carmanah to the department detailing the results of investigations made by his sons, Phil and Tom Daykin. The lightkeeper sent a plan of the caves in which the wreckage, the boat and its ghastly complement, was located by the Indians. Phil Daykin, his son, who went to the scene to make investigations and who entered the cave in which the life raft was found, although unable to get into the larger cave where the boat and victims of the sea was stated to be, arrived by Quadra, and he told a Colonist reporter yesterday regarding the find.
…The caves are not more than 200 yards from where Valencia was lost… 
Mr Daykin, in company with his brother visited the wrecked Steamer and found that the engines were still upright and the greater part of the hull was in position. The engines showed 5′ above water at low tide. There was 5 fathoms of water just alongside. 
Quadra supplied the various lighthouses with coal and oil. A call was made near the point at San Juan in accordance with instructions telegraphed by Captain Gaudin at the same time Quadra was ordered to investigate the caves to investigate the report of a Schooners mast and indications of a sunken wreck seen near there… [Colonist, 1906-09-01]


A 4-masted schooner, name unknown, was close to the rocks of the Vancouver Island coast yesterday morning, and but for a fortunate change of tide, would have piled up near Clo-oose, not far from where the barkentine Vesta and barks Uncle John and Janet Cowan went on the coast. The vessel, evidently a lumber Schooner, was sighted from the lighthouse at Carmanah Point yesterday morning, according to a message received here. She was then 3/4 of a mile distant from the shore and 2 miles South of Carmanah. All morning she lay close inshore and in danger of drifting on the rocks. She was becalmed and helpless, and it seemed that she was likely to be set on which at the change of the tide yesterday afternoon she drifted offshore. 
Clo-oose, near where Schooner was reported in danger of going on the rocks, has been the scene of many wrecks since the days when the old China trading packets of King George, and even before their day, Indians of the vicinity have traditions of Japanese fishing vessels cast ashore there before this coast was settled by the white man and before the wax-laden ship found near Nehalem, which has been a mystery since its discovery many years ago, was found on the Oregon coast. About a dozen vessels have gone ashore near the West Coast village in as many years. Uncle John, Janet Cowan, Atalanta, Vesta and others. The hull of Vesta is still to be seen on the shore. [Colonist, 1907-07-30]


 Wreckage indicating the loss of a large sailing ship, presumably with all hands, off West Coast Vancouver Island, near Carmanah Point, came ashore following the heavy gale of the 16th, 6 miles to East of Carmanah Point lighthouse. 
What craft is the last victim of the sea in this vicinity is yet hidden… the flotsam given from the sea includes a broken topmast, evidently from some large ship, and a lot of white-painted lumber… there were also 2 large boat chocks, hardwood tumbler racks, 4-18′ oars and the stern of a small gig without a mark on it… Included too, among the debris found by Indians, who carried the news of disaster to the lightkeeper, were 3 tin trunks. Whether these had been the receptacles of the gatherings of the sailormen is not known. It is unusual for tin trunks to be used for this purpose, the usual being wooden chests or canvas bags. 
All this wreckage came ashore last night, and it looks as if the wreck occurred recently, says Lightkeeper W P Daykin, in a telegram… 
Lightkeeper Daykin, in his quarter century of service at Carmanah Point, has been practically sexton of the graveyard of ships, in addition to his duties as lightkeeper. His laconic telegrams briefly describing wreckage that has littered the beach during winter gales year after year has been the only record of the passing of many vessels. He has succored survivors of many wrecks reported the disasters to vessels that have grinded to destruction against the rugged coastline, the identity of some of which he has been able to learn; others he has not. 
Near his light stn several winters ago a small amount of wreckage, including a nameboard marked Fawn told of the wreck off there of a local sealing Schooner with all on board when almost home. Not far from there Indians dug from the sand of the beach at Clo-oose the nameboard of the bark Dominion, which had evidently foundered with all hands off the nearby shore, when bound from Honolulu to Royal roads. Within a short distance Steamer Valencia hung on the reef near Darling Creek until the heavy in sweeping seas tore 140 of their passengers to death with the breaking of the vessel; Steamer Michigan piled up on Sea Bird’s and wreckage swept in to where the sexton of the graveyard of ships kept watch at the light. 
The West Coast has been the scene of many wrecks since the days of the old China trading packets of the days of King George and even before then as the finding of the wax-laden wreck Nahalem on the Oregon coast testifies. Some great disasters have occurred within a few miles from the scene, notably the Valencia disaster… [Colonist, 1908-04-18]


Bringing further detailed information concerning wreckage recently washed ashore in the vicinity of Carmanah Point, Steamer Tees, Captain Townsend, returned from West Coast. Robert Daykin, who investigated the wreckage scattered along the rocks to East and West of Carmanah, where, with his father W P Daykin, he who tends the light, was among the passengers who arrived here and he says there is no doubt the wreckage found is new. 
…a large amount of empty cases, whiskey and others have been found in vicinity of Nitinat. Stanley Wood, a timber cruiser who came from vicinity of Nitinat, said there were an unusual amount of these cases recently washed ashore. 
Mr Daykin said the wreckage seemed to indicate that some large sailing vessel, a ship or a bark, had met disaster… 
The 3 trunks found on the rocks to West of Carmanah Point, about 6 miles beyond the light, were of the usual American pattern, wood covered with tin. Little pieces of broken deckhouses, all painted white, some teak wood bits, rowlock chocks, 3 long oars were amongst the wreckage… 
Until arrival at Alberni, where news was learned of the safety of the crew, the officers and passengers of Tees from Cape Scott and vicinity believed they had learned from the settlers of a disaster which had involved much loss of life. Settlers at Cape Scott told of sighting a vessel on fire, Apr 19, and of witnessing 2 loud explosions, evidently the blowing up of a gasoline vessel. News was given at Alberni of the new Tacoma fishing Schooner Clara C, was the destroyed vessel and that her crew, who had rowed around the North of the island to Scarlett Point lighthouse, had been rescued and brought South by fishing Steamer Celestial Empire. [description by unknown Cape Scott correspondent, Apr 29, 15] [Colonist, 1908-04-29]


News indicating the loss during the gales of the last few days off the West Coast Vancouver Island of a small vessel, presumably an American Schooner, was received from Carmanah Point near which wreckage pointing to disaster but not sufficient to identify the victim was received. The wreckage came ashore yesterday on the rocks 2 � miles West of the lighthouse where W P Daykin is in charge. Included was a broken clinker-built gig with letters J D C alone showing, the rest of the letters being broken away. Shipping lists and registers give but one vessel with these letters beginning her name and that vessel is in the Atlantic. There was also a shield of sugar pine with United States coast of arms, stars in gilt and red, white and blue of the stripes and field in enamel. These things alone of the flotsam which came ashore offered any clue whatever to the victim of the gales. There was also a piece of ship’s rail of teak, about 15′ long, 8″ wide and 4″ thick, seemingly part of the rail of a small Schooner, and a few coconuts were also washed ashore amongst the wreckage. 
Lightkeeper Daykin sighted no vessels in any distress. Clo-oose reported a Schooner off there Fri, sailing inward. A Schooner was becalmed off there, but afterward she got a breeze and sailed away. [Colonist, 1908-11-22]


Mr W P Daykin, who for over 25 years has been in charge of the Carmanah Point lighthouse, has been transferred to the McLachlan Point fog stn, and Mr Woodbine, will move from this aid to Carmanah. Mr Daykin, during his stay at Carmanah, has been of great assistance to shipping, and many a shipwrecked mariner has been succored by him. Carmanah is a signal stn and inbound vessels have been reported for years by Mr Daykin. [Colonist, 1912-07-20]

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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