Sister’s Island c. early 1950s

Here is a continuance of the tales of Juanita (Swanson) DuLong. Somewhere around the early 1950s, probably after a year at Fiddle Reef lighthouse the family was moved to Sisters Island. Juanita says:

Sisters Island

Fiddle Reef’s plumbing was a cistern and hand pump. Cold water only. 

Sisters was a little tamer and had a bathroom. When we arrived we found the tub full of coal. The running water was cold only . A reservoir on the wood and coal stove heated enough water for small tasks.

At that time  the lighthouse tenders also burned coal. The smoke could be seen well off.

While on the subject of heat, Dad nearly took a finger off chopping kindling. Mom patched it up, and a doctor later told her he “couldn’t have done it better himself”.

Here there were more and bigger buildings. I actually had a bedroom instead of my little pallet in the angle of the hallway (on Fiddle Reef). I cannot remember much about the day to day station workings, but I do remember the foghorn had a very brassy sound. Continue reading

Hurricane on Langara Island – 1962

– Jeannie (Hartt) Nielsen (daughter of Ed Hartt, Senior Keeper on Langara 1957 – 1963) 

Langara Point - photo Jeannie Nielsen

I had gone by myself to the cabin for a weekend, and in the evening of the second day I was sitting in front of an open campfire watching the sun set. As the sun sank in the sky, a fast moving band of black cloud moved in. 

By midnight that night, the wind was screaming, and the sound of the ocean was ferocious. I could see nothing in the black night, and shone my flashlight toward the bay. All I could see was spray and white water. I watched anxiously for any sign of water coming in under the cabin walls, as the cabin was not far from high tide mark. And from the sound of the ocean, it was wild out there. I was scared. I laid awake all night listening to the sounds of crashing branches, and just hoped that one of the giant trees around the cabin wouldn’t come down. It would have been foolhardy to try to go home in the dark, so all I could do was wait it out.  Continue reading

Surviving on Fiddle Reef Lighthouse c. 1950s


View Larger Map

On January 21, 2012 I wrote about a family that lived on the lighthouses in the 1950s up to the 1960s, all in the days of no electricity – only kerosene lamps. I now have another installment from Ms. Juanita (Swanson) DuLong. She was only four years old at the time on Fiddle Reef, but memories are hard to erase – especially Lighthouse Memories!

List of Lights #215 - Fiddle Reef Sector

The map above shows the location of Fiddle Reef (1898 – 1978) just off Oak Bay, Victoria, BC. The lighthouse was on the rock under the green arrow. The lighthouse is long gone and is replaced with a white cylindrical tower with a white light and a red sector. Continue reading

Day of Departure – Going on Leave c.1970s

MBB-105 - photo J. Coldwell

In the days before portable radios and instant communications, we were always apprehensive about the day we headed out for holidays. 

First there was the weather which as everone knows on the West Coast of Canada is always unpredictable even with modern weather forecasting. We observed the weather but rarely got any weather forecasts. 

Next came the Coast Guard. Our long-awaited flight could be diverted for search and rescue, maintenance, or any of a hundred other reasons.  Continue reading

The Wind Speed Indicator Episode c.1935

– Roy Carver (son of C. E. Carver on Kains Island 1933 – 1944) 

One of the daily duties of a light house keeper was to estimate the wind speed during each day and record it, along with other meteorological observations and measurements, which also included sea water temperature, and a sample of sea water which was taken at a depth bellow the surface, weather permitting of course.1

Average Seawater Temperature Kains Island 1935 - 2011 - Fisheries & Oceans

The small glass bottles with cork stoppers of sea water were stored in wooden boxes with many little squares, one for each bottle. These boxes would be shipped out when the supply ship re-supplied the station once a year, usually in July. As far as I know Father never did find out what happened to the bottles of sea water after they left the station.2

For an individual to estimate wind speed is a pretty tall order, especially on the edge of an island. If the wind is blowing in your face one would judge the wind speed higher than if it was blowing from behind you (behind the island), so wind speed estimating was not very accurate, even with the crude wind speed indicating instruments supplied at the station. Continue reading

Before the Manuals – Applying for the Job c.1930s

– Roy Carver (son of C. E. Carver on Kains Island 1933 – 1944)

Qualifications for 2nd Class Fog Alarm Engineer - scan Sandra Vigna & Roy Carver

 

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) of Canada was a very imposing body of bureaucrats who controlled the hiring and firing of government employees. It was a bit intimidating when I applied in 1969, and from the evidence on the documents that have been given to me, it was equally, if not more so, in 1933. 

 

Clarence Edgar Carver applied for temporary employment as a lighthouse keeper on Quatsino  lighthouse (aka Kains Island) and was accepted.  

Continue reading

Life on the Lighthouses c. 1950s to 1960s

Nootka light

I receive links to lighthouse stories in the most unbelievable ways. This one arrived in the middle of an email addressed to someone else, which was then passed on to me.

After contacting this first writer I was passed on to another. To keep track of all my contacts I think I will soon need a secretary!

The first writer was Ms. R. Dawson, and her grandparents were on five British Columbia lighthouses for a total of twenty plus years staring in the 1940s. Ms. Dawson describes herself as an activist and I believe she is onboard with the lighthouse keepers against automation as she says: “Lighthouses have been under attack for decades by federal government politicians who have no idea as to their worth and see them as an easy target.”

After contacting Ms. Dawson, I was told that her Aunt Juanita was older and had more stories to tell, and that Aunt Juanita is the sole surviving child of Ms. Dawson’s grandparents/Juanita’s parents. So, Ms. Dawson contacted Aunt Juanita, and I then received an email from Juanita’s husband Roy DuLong. Continue reading

Life on First Narrows Lighthouse and Fog Station c. 1915+

Capilano Lighthouse behind the Empress of Japan - photo Dudley Booth

 

– a letter written by Dorothy Mawdsley (Harris) Harrop (daughter of first light keeper, George Alfred Harris, at Capilano 1915 – 1925),  with special thanks to Alfred Harrop, grandson of George Alfred Harrop, for letting me post the text of the letter.

*******************************

This letter is a bit long, as people were prone to write a lot before the advent of computers. If you have the time, this is a fascinating story of life way back then. – JAC

********************************

Perhaps my grandchildren will take time to read this when I am long gone. We came to Vancouver  in 1909. I had just turned my 13th birthday. My father could not get work of any description. He had a Chief Engineer Ticket from Liverpool [UK]  but owing to the B.C. laws he was not allowed to work as an engineer even on a small tug in the inlet. It must have been very hard on both my father and my mother.  Continue reading

I Remember . . . c. early 1960s

Langara Point

 

– from Jeannie (Hartt) Nielsen (daughter of Ed Hartt, Senior Keeper on Langara 1957 – 1963) 

 

 

Smells
Growing up on a total of five different west coast lighthouses I remember certain things that were common to them all. The best day was always supply day (see also the Groceries & Mail Categories). When we were on Langara lighthouse in the early years (1957 – 1963) we received supplies every three months. I can remember the first thing I listened for in the early morning of landing day was the clicking sound of the damper in the chimney of the kitchen’s oil stove. When I heard that I knew that there would be no supplies landed that day as the wind was too high.

One December I heard that dreaded sound twenty (20) days in a row, and each day the ship tried to bring our groceries. We would watch as it would come into view just off Langara Rocks. They would assess the landing conditions, then we would watch with growing dispair as it turned back to the safety of a nearby harbour. Finally on the 21st day, the supply tender (itself running out of provisions) was able to deliver our supplies.  Continue reading

Mise Tales One

No, it’s not a misprint, but what is a Mise?

When I was a teenager I always had stuff to repair, and my Father had drawers of spare stuff  that I needed for the repairing.

In the wall of small drawers was one labelled Mise. These were very small drawers and the hand-written label on meical adhesive tape was also small and very hard to read.

In the Mise drawer were small nails. In my naivety I assumed that Mise was a special designation of Mice, and these small nails then became Mice Nails to me.

It was not until I was out and working did I discover they were actually called finishing nails, and the drawer label actually read Misc, which naturally stood for Miscellaneous!

So I will dedicate these pages to my Father, Alec F. Coldwell. This is Mise Tales One and I will post here miscellaneous things I find that are too short to make a full story. I do hope there will be many more Mise Tales later.

********************************** Continue reading