Why We Need MORE Lighthouses in British Columbia

Why We Need MORE Lighthouses in British Columbia

One of the arguments for destaffing the lighthouses in British Columbia (BC), Canada is that they are no longer needed because all vessels have the Global Positioning System (GPS). Canadian mariners must move into the 21st Century they say!

Have you ever looked at British Columbia? The size of British Columbia?

Note the three roads to Vancouver, Bella Bella, and Prince Rupert

British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, bordered by the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 944,735 square kilometers (364,764 sq mi) it is Canada’s third-largest province. The province itself is eleven times the size of Austria, where I live; nearly four times the size of Great Britain, two and one-half times larger than Japan and larger than every U.S. state except Alaska. 1


The aerial distance (as the crow flies) from Victoria on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Stewart, BC (just north of Prince Rupert) on the Alaska border at the head of the Portland Canal is 965 kilometres (600 miles) in length. – Wiki

However, because of its many deep inlets and complicated island shorelines—and 40,000 islands of varying sizes, including Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii — the total length of the British Columbia Coast is over 25,725 kilometres (15,985 mi), making up about 10% of the Canadian coastline of 243,042 kilometres (151,019 mi) – the world’s longest coastline.

Without the coastline of the 40,000 islands it is only 7,022 kilometres of inlets and fjords from Vancouver to the Alaska border

The coastline’s geography, which is shared with the Alaska Panhandle and adjoining parts of northwest Washington, is most comparable to that of Norway and its heavily indented coastline of fjords and mountains.

Through that mass of fjords and mountains there are only three roads that reach the coast – one to Vancouver, one to Bella Coola and the last, far in the north, into Prince Rupert.

In between Victoria and Stewart (cities mentioned above) we have a total of twenty-seven (27) manned lighthouses, half of them around, or on, Vancouver Island. The rest are found scattered on islands along the fjords and inlets of the coast, or on small islands.

Now, remove the lighthouse keepers and replace them with automated equipment for lights and weather reports. Now we have 7,022 kilometres (25,725 kilometres in fact) of coastline with no protection when the automated equipment breaks down, as there is no one there to repair or report.

The Coast Guard will say they have helicopters and ships to bring technicians for repairs, but take a look at how long a winter storm lasts – sometimes weeks. No helicopters flying. Nothing moving to repair the outages. The Coast Guard also say that they will issue a Notice to Mariners (NOTMAR) for disabled equipment, but that does not help the mariner who depends on these navigational aids.

The lightkeepers are the eyes and ears of the coast. They are also the repairmen. Given the vast distances of the BC coast, we need more lighthouses – not less!


Does anyone know where to find the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) response times to emergency incidents on the BC coast? I have seen it. It starts off with something like one-half hour around Vancouver, to something like 8 hours or more to the west side of Haida Gwai. I would appreciate a link. Thanks. – JC


British Columbia (944,735 kms2)  divided by Austria (83,855 kms2) equals 11.26 times as large 

British Columbia (944,735 kms2)  divided by UK (243,610 kms2equals 3.8 times as large

British Columbia (944,735 kms2)  divided by Japan (377,923.1 kms2equals 2.5 times as large

British Columbia (944,735 kms2)  divided by Texas (695,621 kms2equals 1.4 times as large

British Columbia (944,735 kms2)  divided by Alaska (1,717,854 kms2equals 0.5 times as large

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


  1. Your areas on Canada are wrong……it is almost 9.9 million square km.

    Not 945,000..which is BC. Canada should be substituted for Canada

    1. Thanks Dave, guess I lost my train of thought there, or two many figures in my head. Corrected now. Nice to have online proof-readers. 🙂

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