Triple Island Lighthouse – Manned!

Triple Island – Staffed    List of Lights #752

Latitude 54 17 40.7N, Longitude 130 52 49.8W

Established: January 1st, 1921

A very interesting history and a description of present day Triple appears on the Lighthouses of British Columbia webpages under Triple Island. But what about the earlier days before radio, central heating, monthly helicopter transportation and paid vacations?

The light was first manned on January 1st 1921 and has been occupied by families and single men ever since that time despite Nature’s wish to destroy the place and it’s people.

 

The photos above were taken summer of 1945 when Joe Osborne was radio operator on Triple for three months along with Gordon and Jean Odlum.

“Quite an experience for a 19 year old,” he said. “I used to enjoy getting out fishing after a ride down the high line with Gordon running the winch using a pair of binoculars to see when to drop the boat. His eyesight was not too good.”

 The photo below shows Triple about 1950. The highline is still in place but the buildings and landings are not erected as shown in the 1955 photo below this one. 

Triple Island c. 1950 – photo Canadian Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans

 

Triple Island c. 1955 Photo – Dennis Hull

The photo above was taken about 1955 when lightkeeper Ed Hartt and his family were living there together with an assistant keeper. All those wooden buildings and wharves. The two single guys now on station sometimes find it hard to get along. What happened back then?

See the Hartt family photos from the above era in the album below:

 

Now take a look at the next two photos which show the station approximately twenty years later. Where are the docks and outbuildings?

 

Triple Island c. 1970s Lightkeeper Larry Golden standing at left Photo – Rand Grant Flickr pages.

 

Triple Island c. 1970s Photo – Rand Grant Flickr pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the 1960s Triple had no more families. Two single men rotating on a twenty-eight day shift from Prince Rupert, BC replaced them. They were transported by helicopter when weather permitted. In the two photos above, note the direction-finding (DF) radio beacon antenna on the roof (now discontinued).

The original helicopter pad was on another one of the Triple Islands separated by a gully which was filled with surging seawater at high tide or in storms. To get to the helicopter pad when you could not walk through the gully the staff rode the cage.

Many people lost their lives in the construction and maintenance of Triple Island. The last was Prince Rupert Coast Guard mechanic Paul Pouliot in February 1978 when he was swept away by a freak wave while walking across the gully to repair the cage.

 

Now, the helicopter landing pad has been moved closer to the tower as can be seen in the present day photos below.

 

There are many stories of damage to Triple Island light. Things like logs through bathroom windows, light tower windows and other damage from storm and wave-driven projectiles.

The photos below show some of the damage inflicted by a storm in September 2005.

 

The duties of the lightkeepers on Triple are now reduced to minor maintenance and painting and the all-important weather reports. The foghorns are silent, the radio direction-finding beacon dismantled, and the main light has been reduced to a flashlight; as someone called it. The lightstation has been designated as a Canadian National Historic Site.

More photos of the old 3rd order lens.

KEEPERS (PLK=Principal; ALK=Assistant)
Thomas Watkins PLK (1920-1923)  
John Thomas Moran PLK (1929-1930)  
Gordon Odlum PLK (1942-1952)  
Joseph H. Osborne RO (1945-1945) radio operator
? Perrie ALK (1948-?)  
Gil Fetterly PLK (1948-?) relief keeper
Russ Botham PLK (1953-1954)  
Dennis Hull ALK (1953-1954)  
Edward Albert Hartt PLK (1954-1957)  
John Milton, Sr. PLK (?-?)  
John Milton, Jr. ALK (?-?)  
Remite Ernest Vargas PLK (c. 1960) relief keeper
L. M. Clifford PLK (c.1960)  
John Paul Turcotte ALK (?-?)  
Doug Franklin ALK (?-?)  
Peter Redhead PLK (?-1978)  
Ray McKenzie ALK (?-?)  
Bruce Grant ALK (1977-1981)  
Randall Wade Grant ALK (1978-1978) relief keeper
P. McAnn ALK (1978-?)  
Kip Hedley PLK (? – ?)  
Doug Rogers ALK (? – ?)  
Edward Beard ALK (1986-?)  
Robert Akerstrom ALK (1974-2002) relief keeper
Shawn Rose ALK (?-?)  
Larry Golden PLK (1978-2006)  
Mike Higgins ALK (1995-1995)  
Bill Bemister ALK (1996-1999)  
Erik Milton ALK (2000-2012)  
Glenn Borgens PLK (2006-2013)  
Gerry Toner ALK (?-2004)  

Find lighthouse keepers from other stations here in the Lightkeeper Database.

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