Illness at Sisters Island c. 1929

Illness at Sisters Island c. 1929

As told to me by РAllen Herbert Smithman (Grandson of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 Р1929)

Sisters Island lighthouse c. 1929

Henry Herbert Smithman was a keeper of the lighthouse at Sisters Island (November 30, 1927 – February 27, 1929) until he became sick and was moved to a hospital in Victoria, B.C. where he died. I believe, although unconfirmed, that he died of rheumatic fever because my father, one of the four boys that were living at the light alone with their mother (my grandmother) Elizabeth Kate, contracted the same illness but was nursed back to health at home on the light.

My grandmother told me the story that when my grandfather died the “powers that be” would not allow her to stay on at the lighthouse as women were not strong enough to take care of a lighthouse. The cute part was that she was the one looking after the light for the past weeks as well as taking care of her four sons ranging in age from about three to ten.


Here is an account direct from Henry’s wife. If you wish to read more about her life on the lighthouses in her own words,¬†please go to: Life on a Lighthouse

We were all sorry when we had to leave the lighthouse. I tried to get the Government to let us stay on them even after Bert passed away but a new law had come out. No widows could stay and run a lighthouse. No doubt if Teddie had been a young grown-up man we could have kept on then. Teddie eventually went back on lighthouses as assistant and in the end was running a lighthouse while the light keeper was in hospital and made out swell.

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

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