Illness at Boat Bluff – c. 1970s

Illness at Boat Bluff – c. 1970s

The following memory was passed on to me by Margit Losel. It happened during their time at Boat Bluff in the years 1977 – 1980. They were lucky! They were able to get off and on the lighthouse. Some stations were too isolated for this method to work. – JAC 


Boat Bluff c. 1970s - photo credit - Ray Mackenzie

We were living on Boat Bluff Light and my oldest son Simon was an infant. He developed a very bad case of Croup. One stormy night he all but stopped breathing and we tried frantically to get some help. 

We finally managed to get a radio patch through Bull Harbour Coast Guard Radio with a doctor in Bella Bella. The radio reception was so poor that the connection with the doctor broke up all the time, but we did understand that Simon needed medical attention as soon as possible. 

Boat Bluff, Klemtu, Bella Bella & Dryad marked with small red arrows

Early the next morning we set out in the station boat to Klemtu (about 3 miles/4.8 kms distance). The weather was pretty rough. We waited in Klemtu for the Trans-Provincial Airlines (TPA) (now Harbour Air) scheduled flight out of Prince Rupert to take us to Bella Bella. 

After arriving in Bella Bella, we had to charter a water taxi to get us to the hospital. Simon was by then in pretty rough shape.
He was supposed to go in the oxygen tent, but theirs was not in working order and they only had the one at that little hospital. The facility was also pretty dirty and Simon was not cared for there any better than I could at home. The doctor suggested a humidifier to make Simon better. I explained to the doctor where we lived and that getting a humidifier from the Sears catalogue was going to take days at least. They let me purchase one of the hospital’s humidifiers, which was very nice. 

CG 253 in 1970s colours - photo credit Rand Grant

We took the water taxi to Dryad Point lighthouse afterwards to await a pick-up by the Coast Guard Sikorsky helicopter that was in Port Hardy for something or other. They were fogged in! We waited all day at Dryad Point. Not expecting to be stranded there, we had no diapers, bottles, or change of clothing with us for our son. 

The keepers, Henry and Harvey Bergen and both their families, were very helpful and gracious. They suggested to hire a friend of theirs from Bella Bella to take us home, since we had no idea how long we were going to be stuck on Dryad. This chap was a native American fellow from Bella Bella and a super nice guy. He agreed to a price and the four of us set out in his boat. 

He took us as much as possible through the narrow channels to avoid Queen Charlotte Sound since there was a gale warning out. But we still had to cross some of it before we got into the Inside Passage. The swells were huge! 

Simon sat on my lap, and feeling my distress never moved or cried. We got home after many hours and the native American fellow radioed us from Bella Bella after he made it back safely. Just in the nick of time too, because Queen Charlotte Sound was not navigable anymore for a boat of his size. 

– Margit Losel (wife of keeper Dieder Losel, on Boat Bluff 1977 – 1980)

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

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