Lightkeeper Retirement Homes

No, this does not refer to retirement homes such as you are imagining for senior citizens. This is a fictitious tale of what I imagine a lightkeeper might look for in a home when he retires. None of these homes are actually inhabited by a lighthouse keeper, as far as I know, but they appealed to me as a place where a keeper might like to retire.

Most keepers hate to leave their lighthouse homes at all, but sometimes, as in my case, retirement beckons too strongly and we give up the solitary life. Maybe we would move into . . . 

1. How about this one?

I saw this little dwelling and its location and immediately fell in love with it. It is isolated; it is near water; it even has a boat (note the kayak beneath the house). I still ride a bicycle, so why not paddling a kayak into old age? Perfect location for me.

The photograph is by Irene Becker for National Geographic Picture of the Day: A Tiny River House in Serbia. The website says:

A house in the middle of the Drina River near the town of Bajina Basta, Serbia. The Drina is a 346 km long river that forms much of the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. It is the longest tributary of the Sava River and the longest karst river in the Dinaric Alps.

i searched via Google Earth and finally found the location at latitude 43°59’3.73″N, Longitude 19°33’59.67″E (

Google Earth KML file with several more photos of the house). Continue reading

Severance Pay for Retiring Lightkeepers is Finished!

You all know what severance pay is do you not?

Severance pay is pay (and sometimes benefits) an employee receives when he or she leaves employment. Severance pay is most typically offered for employees who are laid off or retire.

Just recently the the Canadian Government, Treasury Board Branch, has forcibly modified the collective agreements of these three groups PA, SV and EB  so that Severance Pay is no longer paid upon retirement. It is still available if you are laid off.

PA Program and Administrative Services SV Operational Services EB Education and Library Science
Administrative Services (AS)  Firefighters (FR)  Education (ED)
Information Services (IS)  General Labour and Trades (GS)  Library Science (LS)
Programme Administration (PM)  Heating, Power and Stationary Plant Operations (HP)  Library Science (LS)
Welfare Programmes (WP)  Hospital Services (HS)  
Communications (CM)  Lightkeepers (LI)   
Data Processing (DA)  Ships’ Crews (SC)   
Clerical and Regulatory (CR)  Printing Operations (Advisory) (PR(S)) 
Office Equipment (OE)  Secretarial, Stenographic and Typing (ST)

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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

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

Quarters and Rations (Q&R)

Quarters and Rations (Q&R), seen on many Canadian government employee pay cheques as Q – R IN KIND is also know as Rations and Quarters (R&Q) in the Canadian military.

It is a topic over which I fought against the Coast Guard bureaucracy my whole working life. I wanted it defined for the lighthouse keeper! 

It is paid – why can the keepers not have the benefits? When I was working I had the personnel office in Prince Rupert in a turmoil. I even filed a grievance with the Union, and all the bigwigs in Vancouver could not find out what our benefits were and said let it drop. 

When I worked for the government in the north of Canada, and today on many postings where government personnel – police, military, weather observers, ships crews, radio operators, airport personnel, etc.  are sent into isolation to do work for the government, they are given Q&R benefits. (Is anybody missing from this list? Please contact me and let me know.) Continue reading

Porlier Pass Lighthouse 1949 – 1965

- Denice Goudie (grandaughter of Henry Edward Brown, Senior Keeper on Porlier Pass 1949 – 1965) 

Please go to the Porlier Pass lighthouse website, a project of Dennice Goudie, and read the rest of her account and recollections of life at Porlier Pass and a history of her grandfather. 

Building on Race Point demolished in 1996 - photo - Chris Mills

Grandfather of this researcher Denice Goudie, Henry Edward Brown (November 29, 1899 – September 27, 1974) served as lighthouse keeper at Porlier Pass between 1949 and 1965 which was established 15 November 1902; automated April 1996. 

Every summer and most school holidays of my memory were spent at the north end of Galiano Island. At first in the house which stood further up the hill; lit by coal oil lamps, outhouse, water by bucket from the cistern and after that house burned down a 3 bedroom house that can be viewed from Virago Point Light, looking toward Race Point.  Continue reading

Canadian Government Pension Plans for Retiring Lighthouse Keepers

All Canadian government employees who are eligible for retirement are eligible for:
The Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP)
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
Old Age Security (OAS) pension at age 65

You are entitled to a Public Service pension (immediate annuity), if you retire:(source)

  • at or after age 60 with two (2) or more years of pensionable service; or
  • at or after age 55 with 30 or more years of pensionable service.

A Public Service pension is calculated according to the following basic pension formula:(source)

2 per
cent

 X 

number of years of
pensionable service

 X 

your average salary for the five
consecutive years of your highest-paid
service

 

Maximum Pension Payable To You Is ONLY For 35 Years Which Equals 70%.

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