There have been many reports, newspaper articles, books, etc. written about the disaster that occurred at Egg Island Lighthouse station November 2nd, 1948 – none of which tell the true story. A few of the newspaper reporters of that time interviewed my father, many more got their stories second, third and fourth hand. None of the authors of the books written since have ever interviewed or talked directly to my father, Robert Laurence Wilkins, my mother, Ada Marie Wilkins or myself, Dennis Edward Wilkins. I mention the names in full to finally get the characters of the story straight.
Many of the stories in print are, in themselves, very interesting and intriguing – lacking only in the fact that that is not what or how it all happened. The fault may not lie with the various authors; the Government of Canada did much to avoid the truth from being heard then and later. Now that both my mother and father are dead, and most of the other players in the story are long since past, I feel reasonably safe in documenting the story. The purpose of this record is primarily for my family and friends, who have always shown a greater fascination for the story than myself (perhaps since I was there). Secondly, there may be the odd other person who has heard the story before and would appreciate knowing just what really happened that day.
To start the story, some background is required to set the scene. I will start just before the move to Egg Island early in 1948. Continue reading →
The full content of this pictograph is available here on Franke James website. Please read it, send a letter, even if you live outside Canada, to let the Canadian Prime Minister know that what he is doing is WRONG!
This story is not only about schooling! This is the whole family helping out to run the lighthouse while tending to daily living. Life on the lighthouse in the early days was anything but fun! – retlkpr
- Elizabeth Kate (Stannard) Smithman (Wife of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929)
Children get their schooling by correspondence courses and lessons are supposed to be sent to Victoria every month if its possible. The parents have to be the teacher. I took on that job for we had to have a plan so all of us could get a certain amount of sleep.
We would work it like this: Bert would go to bed right after supper after he lit the light. I would call him about 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. and he would get up and watch from then ’till the light could be put out at daylight. Continue reading →
I lived thirty-two years on the lighthouses bordering on the Pacific Ocean. As a lighthouse keeper, I was also aware of the ocean as a living habitat that should be protected. We voluntarily reported oil spills, garbage, etc. For me it was a beautiful place, but I saw what man could do to the oceans in just a short period.
One prime example which I will never forget was back in the 1970s when I was at Quatsino lighthouse (aka Kains Island) where a mining firm near Port Alice was given government permission to dump mine tailings five (5) kilometers off the coast.
If the weather was bad, they only went as far as the entrance to the sound, maybe one (1) kilometer, and dumped their barge-load of rock garbage.
My crystal clear fishing water around the lighthouse turned from 40 foot visibility to a murky brown colour with a visibility of about one (1) foot because of the tailings.
The oceans are not a garbage dump! Please watch Chris Jordan’s trailer video below and then read the news articles.
The Robert C. Seamans, a tall ship owned and operated by Sea Education Association (SEA) will leave port October 3, 2012, on a research expedition. The journey is dedicated to examining the effects of plastic marine debris in the ocean ecosystem, including debris generated by the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
October 02, 2012 – Plastics at sea – North Pacific Expedition
An area of plastic debris was first observed in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early 1970s, but in recent years, a similar area of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean has received the most media attention. Sea Education Association (SEA) has been studying both debris fields – in the North Atlantic for the past 25 years, and in the North Pacific the past eight. Click here…
Yet the biggest contamination problem in the Pacific Ocean existed long before the 2011 tsunami. It’s summed up in that word from The Graduate: “Plastics.”
Mary Crowley, founder of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a U.S.-based environmental group, says the tsunami debris poses a significant risk to the ocean, but it pales in comparison with the vast amount of debris already floating in the ocean. Most of that debris is plastic and most of it comes from this side of the Pacific.
Marine litter a growing problem, but cleanup plans are in the works
The tall ship Kaisei, seen here docked in Richmond after several weeks of tracking debris and gathering research on the Great Pacific Patch and the Japanese tsunami. The findings will be presented at the Richmond Maritime Festival Aug. 10-12. (Courtesy of City of Richmond)
Trash falls out of a full garbage bin on Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, July 24, 2012. According to New York City environmental protection commissioner, there is a chance that trash laying in the city’s streets could end up on New York’s beaches. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
June 12, 2012 – Kaisei sets sail for Steveston’s Ships to Shore festival Kaisei, a Japanese name roughly interpreted as “Ocean Planet,” has served as the iconic vessel behind research expeditions of Project Kaisei, a group that formed in 2008 to stem the flow of plastic and marine debris into the Pacific Ocean.
The 29-year-old student is still in shock that her mentor, Canada’s only marine mammal toxicologist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Vancouver Island, is losing his job as the federal government cuts almost all employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada.
Although the Japan Tsunami has created unprecedented amounts of ocean trash, marine debris from foreign and domestic sources has been washing up on the Alaskan coast for a long time. Most of this debris is caused by human choices. The solution to the global problem of marine debris is changing our habits and the way we dispose of our waste, and the first step towards that solution is creating an awareness of the problem.
Tiny pieces of plastic contaminate almost every sea in the world. Now scientists have found that marine creatures like fish and birds are eating this microscopic waste, which may be harming their health.
- Elizabeth Kate (Stannard) Smithman (Wife of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929). Story donated by her grandson Allen Smithman.
Sisters Island c. 1927 - photo Allen Smithman
A Near Miss at Sisters Island c. 1928
One evening while I was taking the night watch till 2:30 a.m. I was sitting writing a letter and all at once I heard a lot of noise like a big engine and lots of music playing. I jumped up and went outside and I was struck nearly speechless for there was a big Alaska liner so close to the lighthouse, just over the highest reef in the rocks that was there.
The music and singing sounded so close. I stood there waiting every second to hear it crash. I thought of the Titanic instantly and I was afraid to even move. My first thought was of course was that the light had gone out but just then I saw a flash go over the liner and I knew the light was OK. It gave me such a scare, I was shaking all over and I went and called Bert to look at the big liner that had just gone right over the top of the reef. He said “My God”! If those people had only known just how close they had come to disaster they wouldn’t be singing like that – of course they would have sung “Nearer My God to Thee” like the people on the Titanic did. (Strange he should think of that disaster too). It was really a pretty sight. (The liner itself I mean) for it was all lit up and it looked like a big long tall Christmas tree. Continue reading →
One of our responsibilities as a lighthouse keeper was to assist mariners in distress. This was not a written rule. The written rule was to maintain the light and foghorn.
There was one stipulation in our Rule Book where we could assist a mariner who ran out of gas or diesel by supplying them with enough fuel, free of charge, to get them to the next port of call where they could purchase their own.
One evening Walt Tansky, my boss on Pulteney Point at the time, was interrupted by a knock at the door and saw a young man there who informed him that he had run out of gas and could he get enough to get him to Port Hardy. Walt said he remarked that Port McNeil or Sointula was closer, but the man said he had just come from Alert Bay and was heading north. Continue reading →
Below is the first extract from The British Colonist with news other than from Victoria, BC
The department of marine and fisheries under date of November 28  has issued a circular notice to mariners regarding navigation in British Columbia waters. The two new lighthouses – on Point Island and on Dryad Point, Campell island, respectively-are described, together with hydrographic notes affecting the same. Notice is given of an unchartered rock in Methhlacatlah bay and also of the removal and change in color of the Hodgson Reefs’ buoy.
A lighthouse erected by the government on Pointed island, Fittzhugh sound, east entrance to Lama passage, was put in operation on the 5th instant, latitude 52 degrees 3 minutes 48 seconds, longitude west 128 degrees 58 minutes, and 40 seconds. The light is a fixed white light, elevated 42 feet above high water, and should be visible 12 miles over an arc 214 degreesw bewteen the bearings of S. 56 degrees E. (S. 31 degrees E true) through south and west to N. 22 degrees W. (N. 3 degrees E. true). The illuminating apparatus is dioptric of the seventh order.
A lighthouse, erected by the government on the extremity of Dryad point (Turn point) Campbell island, northern entrance of Main passage, Seaforth channel, was put in operation on the 7th instant latitzude north 52 degrees q11 minutes 14 seconds, longitude west 128 degrees 8 minutes and 24 seconds. The light is a fixed white light, elevated 36 feet above high water mark, and should be visible eleven miles over an arc 257 degrees, between the bearings E. 63 degrees E. (S. 37 degrees E. true) through south, west and north to N. 14 degrees E. (N. 40 degrees E. true). The illuminating apparatus is dioptric of the seventh order. The lighthouse is on the point named on the admiralty charts Turn point. In order to dostinguish it from Turn point, Stuart island, on which a lighthouse is already maintained, the geographic board will change its name tp Dryad point, commemorating the name of a brig belonging to the Hudson’s Bay Co., which was engaged in company with the brig “Lama” in 1833, in carrying materials, etc., for the construction of Fort McLaughlin, near the site of the nearby existing village of Bella Bella.
The captain of the D. G. S. Quadra reports, in connection with the establishment of the above lighthouse, that dryad points extends nearly 300 feet east of the shore line shown on admiralty chart No. 2.449; that the islaet shown east of the point is not visible in coming from the westward until the extremity of Continue reading →
“MV Queen of Prince Rupert” Aground in Gunboat Pass August 25, 1982
MV Queen of Prince Rupert - photo John Morris
Before you read the story, I must fill in a few details. My wife Karen and I were on McInnes Island lighthouse at the time of the incident. A week before the incident below we picked up the voice of the lightkeeper Henry Bergen at Dryad Point on our scanner in the house. In a loud and agitated voice he was calling “Queen of Prince Rupert! Queen of Prince Rupert! This is Dryad Point! Dryad Point! You are going the wrong way!” The reply came back that they were on a navigational exercise and they had everything in hand.
Now the story from Harvey Humchitt1 who was on board the ship a week later . . .
It was a typical Friday in Bella Bella. My mother and brother and I had been preparing for a day trip to Port Hardy before the start of school. The trip to Port Hardy was on the “MV Queen of Prince Rupert” which took 6 or 7 hours from Bella Bella to Port Hardy. For me back then it was a holiday in itself. Continue reading →