Guess What!

Back in 1969 on my first lighthouse at Pulteney Point we had a third keeper on station. Wayne and Beth were a very friendly couple who lived the hippie lifestyle. One of the things Wayne used to do every morning at daybreak was wander down to the shoreline right in front of his house, bend over and look at the sunrise between his legs, and then scoop up a few handfuls of seawater and drink it. To each his own I guess!

water

A Single Drop of Seawater, Magnified 25 Times

OK, you’ve seen the title of the photo above taken from the website This is Colossal. On there they state:

You know when you’re horsing around at the beach and accidentally swallow a nasty gulp of salt water? Well I hate to break it to you but that foul taste wasn’t just salt. Photographer David Littschwager captured this amazing shot of a single drop of seawater magnified 25 times to reveal an entire ecosystem of crab larva,diatoms, bacteria, fish eggs, zooplankton, and even worms. Read more about what you probably don’t want to know at Dive Shield. We do admit the little crab larva in the lower right-hand corner is pretty darned cute. (via Lost at E Minor) Prints of this photograph are available at Art.com.

Mise Tales Thirty-Six

 

For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One.

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Here is a great video taken on board the Coast Guard ship CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier as it services the mountain-top radio sites using the onboard helicopter. Great shots of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwai) and the old lighthouse and radio station at Cape St. James.

It is titled on Youtube as the “Big Red Restaurant“!

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More Messages in Bottles!

When I wrote the story Message in a Bottle I was just using what information I had on hand. The last quotation in the story was from a news source on the British Columbia (BC) coast where a Tofino, BC man found a one hundred and seven (107) year old message in a bottle.

I wanted to keep that story updated but the local media seemed to have lost track of the story as the man wants to donate?/sell? the bottle to a museum without opening the bottle.

While Googling the story of the Tofino man I found the news video of his find on Youtube . . .

Message in bottle from 1906

Continue reading

McInnes Island Lighthouse – a Tale from the 1950s

 

I published a report January 04, 2012 on the building of McInnes Island lighthouse in 1953 based on the adventures of Ken Stewart who was part of the construction crew. I updated that post later with more information in the form of a PDF file.

1977

When I arrived with my family in the winter of 1977 the first thing we did was explore the island. Pictured left is a small log cabin buried back in the woods on the trail to the SW tip of the island.

Now let’s skip ahead to December 09, 2012 when I received an email from Mrs. K. Marshall with another photo of the same cabin taken about twenty-two (22) years earlier! What a delight to see what she had written on who built the cabin and also for her to see my photo taken so many years later.

In her email she said:

My grandfather James “Jimmie” Smith was a junior lighthouse keeper on McInnes for a few years in the late 1950s.
He was there with my grandmother Mildred “Millie”, and their 2 daughters who were teenagers at the time, my mother Carol and her sister Sharon.

These photos are of a driftwood log cabin that my Mom and her sister built on the island. I’ve been scanning old family photos this past week and have quite a few from the lighthouses.

I’d be really curious to know if the cabin was still standing while you were stationed there.

Well, as I told her the cabin was there in the winter of 1977, but by the summer of 1978 we had burnt it down as it was very unsafe for anybody to venture inside and could not be repaired. An email from her Mom, the Carol mentioned above, says: 

Pool area – labelled

[To build] the cabin I pulled and carried the logs from just below the cabin from the beach. The shakes I cut those with a hand saw to length. Split them with Mom’s best butcher knife and a hammer on the back of the knife….that didn’t go over at all well…believe me.

McInnes island – no labels

That end of the island where the cabin was. No one had trails there at all. Sharon and I started to explore that area. Dad, Bruce and Tony when they realized where we where disappearing to, they cut the logs of the trail so the adults could get into that area.

The swimming pool was past the

The swimming pool

cabin. You went up the hill and there was the natural crater in the rock. Dad and Mom used a washing soda to clean it all. Then the guys had a pump and hoses. They pumped new sea water up into the basin. Dad made up a bag of concrete to sort of plug one end of the crater. We just lived in that area all good days. Lots of nights we spent in the cabin. Continue reading

Illness at Sisters Island c. 1929

As told to me by – Allen Herbert Smithman (Grandson of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929)

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. Continue reading

The True Story of Egg Island November 2, 1948

The author, Dennis Wilkins, Green Island 1947

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

Incidents at Sisters & Ballenas Islands c. 1920s

– 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

Life on Nootka Lighthouse c. 1950s

Here is another story from Ms. Juanita (Swanson) DuLong. She was a young girl on most of these stations, but living there, and hearing stories from her parents, she has created   lighthouse memories from the 1950s time. Her older stories are found herehere and here. One more to come she says. 

It is said that for every person on earth, there is a place our soul will recognize as home.

Nootka lighthouse

Sometime in 1955, I was lucky enough to find that Nootka was mine. Ever since, no
matter where or how I was living, I went home whenever possible. Today, my husband
and I live on the West coast of Vancouver Island, not far from Nootka Island.

Nootka Lighthouse is picturesque, with 360 degree views of scenery. The area is steeped in history, being the true birthplace of B.C. Brick fragments are still sometimes found from the Spanish fort that so long ago enjoyed those same views.

But , I wasn’t yet ten years old, and history wasn’t uppermost in a little girl’s mind. Continue reading

Life on Pine Island c. 1950s

Here is another story from Ms. Juanita (Swanson) DuLong. She was a young girl on most of these stations, but living there, and hearing stories from her parents, she has created   lighthouse memories from the 1950s time. Her older stories are found here and here.

Her husband Roy scanned some nice photos of Pine Island station, but unfortunately they are way too small to show here. When he has time to make larger ones, I will add them.

Roy sent some more scans, but they are limited, but I have posted them because they show details not available before – e.g. the A-frame highline setup.

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Pine Island houses - photo Juanita Swanson

There may be somewhere in the world a place foggier than Pine Island lighthouse, but it’s hard to believe. The horn was often on for days on end, and became only another background noise. A lighthouse tender could arrive in clear weather, and radio that Pine was under a doughnut of fog. Continue reading

Sisters Island Lighthouse c. 1927-1928 – Short Stories

 

Sisters Island c. 1927 -

Groceries at Sisters Island c. 1927 

– Elizabeth Kate (Stannard) Smithman (Wife of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929) 

Light keepers have to take a four-month supply of food when they go on as there’s no way of getting anything otherwise. No stores to run to and no neighbours to borrow from, ha ha. The government boat called the lighthouse tender [probably the CCGS Estevan which was built in 1912] calls around every 4 or 5 months. Light keepers order groceries from wholesalers in Victoria and it is delivered to the government wharf and loaded on the tender and they bring it when they are coming up that way. 

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