>

A Language Problem

A Language Problem

– story from Candy-Lea Chickite

My grandmother loved to tell this one to me. I think she may have had the wrong name of the lighthouse keeper. She said it was her father, or maybe she said her father told her the story – I was young when I heard it but I think it may have been a Mr. Grafton who was the fellow involved. I believe the story is true . . .  (a Thomas Grafton was on Point Atkinson lighthouse from 1889 – 1910 and his dates are right for this story – JC)

Back before the days of radios, when a ship entered the Vancouver Harbour they would use a megaphone and call in the name of their ship to the lighthouse at Point Atkinson

One pitch black evening a horn sounded, the keeper hailed his welcome and asked the vessel to identify itself. 

“Wat-a-matta Maru” was the echoed reply in a heavily accented Oriental voice. 

“I say again, what is the name of your vessel?” hollered the keeper enunciating each work emphatically. 

“Wat-a-matta Maru!” 

“This is the Point Atkinson lighthouse, and I DEMAND you identify your vessel before entering the harbour!” replied the keeper of the light. 

Again, “Wat-a-matta Maru!” was the return call. 

Incensed now, the lighthouse keeper yelled back, “There’s NOTHING the matter with me, WHAT the HELL’s the matter with YOU!” 


Published by

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please identify yourself as human. *