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

Shiny New Guest Blogger, Bearing a Letter

Hi all. Our lovely blog master asked if I would make a guest post now and then, and, since the world as I appreciate it is where everyone listens to me, of course I said “yes!”

By way of introduction, I’ll post a letter that I sent to Hon. Mr. Keith Ashfield, Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, on the topic of Marine Communications and Traffic Services cutbacks. This blog has already posted on this topic, but I thought I would add my voice.

I also sent a copy to my MP Jean Crowder. Ms Crowder responded promptly. She thanked me for my concern, and linked me to a letter her party has already sent on the matter. I have yet to hear back from Hon. Mr. Ashfield, or his office.

 

Dear Hon. Mr Keith Ashfield,

I am writing because I feel very concerned about proposed government cuts to Coast Guard’s Marine Communication and Traffic Services. In an effort to save costs, the Coast Guard has proposed slashing overtime and holiday time for its operators, leaving the BC’s MCTS stations vulnerable to understaffing. Continue reading

Humour – Government Policy

I received the following in an email today. Based on yesterdays’s MCTS announcement, I think this applies. Government thinking sometimes is so adverse to public wishes that I think government ministers must live in another universe.

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The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that; “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

However, those in government  will apply a more advanced strategy to solve the same problem.

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse’s performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more
to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course….

13. Promoting the dead horse to a Civil  Service supervisory position.


 
 

Howard Frazer Chamberlin Family Adventures c.1930s

– Narrated by Sharlene Macintosh with help from her cousin Zellie Chamberlin Sale (granddaughters of Howard Frazer Chamberlin, lighthouse keeper c. 1930 – 1941)

Nootka Light -photo - Bill Maximick of Maximick Originals

My grandfather was Howard Frazer Chamberlin who was lightkeeper at a few lighthouses around Vancouver Island  – Nootka , Pine Island , Quatsino , Trial Island  come to mind – my Mom knows them all. His brother, Charles Benjamin Chamberlin was also assistant at Nootka.

My Mom, Mina Peet (née Chamberlin) was born in Oct 1933 while her Dad was a lightkeeper. He originally did various jobs such as farming, prospecting, trapping, and logging with horses. He had a sawmill at Coombs, BC and he was injured while logging with horses on Vancouver Island. He was put into hospital where he met my grandmother Dora Anna Wordsell who was a nurse. 

They married December 12, 1928 in Nanaimo, BC. They had three daughters: Connie (who died in 1985), Pearl, and Mina. The first child, a son, died up near Prince Rupert, BC right after birth, so my grandmother was sent the next time to New Westminster, BC  to give birth (at a real hospital) where her parents lived, and the second two times to Victoria, BC.  Continue reading

A Posting to Isolation – Pachena Pt. 1949 – 1955

– Betty Healey (Wife of Arthur Healey – Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Pachena Point Radio station (VAD) 1949 – 1955)
– forward by editor Tom Racine (from his website History of Spectrum Management in Canada

D.O.T.’er Arthur Healey was officer-in-charge at Pachena Point  Marine Radio Station from 1949 to 1955. With his wife Betty and three children, Ann, John and Michael who were then 12, 8 and 7 years of age respec­tively, he spent six years at this isolated post. He went from there to Alert Bay and last summer took over as officer-in-charge at Victoria Marine Radio. 

Access to Pachena Radio, which was closed down in 1958 after 45 years of operation, was by lighthouse tender, or Bamfield lifeboat, and then by workboat through the surf to the bonnet-sling; then highline up the cliff. If one was a good hiker, it was possible to trek the nine miles from Bamfield to Pachena, and that was how the Healey’s first got there. 

Today, living once again in a large urban community, Mrs. Healey recalls the rewarding experiences shared by the family during that six year period. The children are now young adults: Ann is married and the mother of four children; John received a Bachelor of Education degree last year and is now teaching at Burns Lake, B.C., and Michael, working towards a Master’s degree in zoology at UBC, plans to go to Europe for Ph.D. studies.  Continue reading

Life on Kains Island 1933 – 1944

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

Roy Carver told me he “was born at the Bancroft Nursing Home at 705 Cook Street in Victoria, BC in mid 1930s. This nursing home was set up for expectant mothers that lived in out of the way places with no doctors, like his mother Evelyn Carver. They could come to the home a month before the due date and stay a few days or a week before returning home.” 

Quatsino Lightstation c. 1930s - photo BC Archives

And Roy definitely did live in an out of the way place with his parents, and later his sister. His father was Clarence Edgar Carver who was the principal lightkeeper, fog alarm operator and radio beacon operator on Quatsino Lighthouse (aka Kains Island) during the period 1933 to 1944. Kains Island is located far up the western side of Vancouver Island on Quatsino sound. Nearest neighbours were six (6) miles (9.7 kilometers) away at the small fishing village of Winter Harbour.  Continue reading

Was Nootka Lighthouse Also Attacked in WW2?

page 1 of H. F. Chamberlin letter letter courtesy of Zellie Chamberlin Sale

 

Howard Frazer Chamberlin was on Nootka lighthouse in 1942 according to the interview by the Naval Reserve (see letters at left). But there is a problem here.

When I received a copy of this letter I thought it was referring to the attack on Estevan Point which supposedly helped introduce conscription in Canada during the Second World War. But if you check the dates, this seems to have occured almost a month later to the day that the Estevan Point shelling happened. According to all records, the shelling of Estevan Point took place nightfall of June 20, 1942. 

page 2 of H. F. Chamberlin letter letter courtesy of Zellie Chamberlin Sale

This letter seems to show that there was another attack at Nootka lighthouse about a month later on the evening of July 18, 1942. In fact the lightkeeper states that he phoned Estevan Point Wireless station to see if they were being plastered again! (my emphasis – JC) But Estevan returned the call and said that they had heard nothing so it must have been nearer Nootka. From working with explosives in mining and prospecting, Howard Chamberlin knew the difference between industrial explosives and high-explosives. 

The only thing that appears to be at odds here is that he feels the vibration from the explosions as from underwater. I wonder if he was hearing depth charges going off? This is just one month later than the Estevan incident. I will bet that the Navy and the Naval Reserve were on high alert during this time and expecting the worse. Perhaps a floating log triggered the release of a few depth charges. 

A transcript of the original letter(s) follows:

                        From H.M.C.S. “Pryer”
To COAV
Esquimalt BC
                        Nootka Lighthouse
                        2200 / 19 / 7 / 42
Subject
            Interview With Mr. H. F. ChamberlinLightkeeper 

I was sitting in the kitchen of the Light
house, overlooking the sea, and having
a cup of Tea at 1902 hours July 18/42, when
I both felt and heard an explosion from
a southerly direction. (out to sea) and
this was followed by six other shocks
at intervals of about one (1) minute
between shocks.
I was naturally surprised and could
see the vibrations from the shocks in
the cup of Tea.
As an old Miner and Prospector I can
easily tell the difference between “blasting”
and “submarine” shocks, and the shock
I both heard and felt were definitely from
seaward, and from the “feel” of the vibration
I would say from underwater.
The first shock occured at 1902 and the
last shock at 1911, as I noted the time of last shock.
I phoned the wireless station at Estevan Point
and asked them if they had been “plastered” again, and
they informed me that they had felt or heard nothing.
It was at 1915 when I phoned Estevan Pt. Wireless.

Page 2
(same as Page 1 but with signature at bottom) 

Witness
      Chief Skipper J. D. McPhee, R.C.N.R.
            Commanding Officer
                  H.M.C.S. “Pryer”

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– Howard F. Chamberlin (Lightkeeper on Nootka 1936 – 1941) 

Langara Island 1943 – 1945

– Norma (Kinnear) Money and Willa (Kinnear) Studiner (daughters of William Norman Kinnear, Senior Keeper on Langara 1943 – 1945)

Original interview from the Pine Tree Line1 website which is now hosted on this site.

The duplex – light tower barely visible on right side

Comments by Ren L’Ecuyer 2 – The Kinnear family lived at the lighthouse complex on Langara Island in the 1943-1945 time period. I was fortunate to communicate with Norma Kinnear in February 2004. I had requested her assistance in trying to recreate what once existed at Langara Island. The following detail is a series of questions and answers – all of which provide additional information on what occurred at Langara Island during this period of time. 

Q#1 – Can you please provide the names of your parents, your sister and yourself? I assume there were just two children when you went to Langara Island. 

A#1 – Father: William Norman Kinnear. Mother: Doris May Kinnear. Sisters: Willa Margaret Kinnear and Norma Kathleen Kinnear. 

Q#2 – How old were you and your sister when you arrived at Langara Island? 

A#2 – My sister (Willa) was seven and I was eight. 

Q#3 – Was Langara Island the first location for your father as a light keeper? 

A#3 – Yes.  Continue reading

Radiotelephone Frustration – McInnes Island c. 1970s – 2000

What a convenience! What an expense! What a frustration!

Radio telephone

Anyone who has used a radio-telephone on the BC coast will agree with me. It was great to have semi-private communications rather than using the government-installed ALAN (Automated Lightstation Alarm Network) phone which was not private, and also broke down. It was expensive to have a privately owned radio-telephone but so nice to be in contact with the rest of the world. 

But sometimes this convenience just added a few more gray hairs to my head. Here’s one example of a conversation! (there are probably many more if anyone wants to add one) 

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[heard over the radio-telephone speaker, a ringing sound of a telephone as I keyed the microphone (pressed the press-to-talk (PTT) button to get contact with an operator)] 

Operator: Swindle Island [our normal Telus stand-by channel to receive/place phone calls] 

Myself: Hello operator, this is McInnes Island  . May I have privacy please. 

[“privacy” allowed us to have some modicum of secrecy on the radio-telephone line as it blanked out our side of the conversation to other listeners so they could not hear our registration number or other personal details e.g. bank account numbers, etc.]  Continue reading