Reprint – Sentinels Encased in Ice

Sentinels Encased in Ice by Elinor DeWire

from WeatherWise November-December 2011 

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The ice was here, the ice was there
The ice was all around;
I t cracked and growled, and roared and howled
Like noise in a swound…
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Caption: St. Joseph Pierhead in Michigan as it appeared on December 20, 2010. Continue reading

Something Even Better?

alberta-fire-lookout

photo – Stuart Gradon Calgary Herald

Something Even Better than working on a lighthouse?

In an email with an ex British Columbia (BC) lighthouse keeper he mentioned that he was going to work in Alberta, Canada as a Fire Tower Lookout!

What does that have to do with lighthouses?

A lot from many people’s perspective! Both jobs have the isolation and romance that a lot of people seek in a job. When I was younger I know it was always in the back of my mind.

Again the same questions pop up – Wouldn’t it be lonely? What about wild animals? What happens if you hurt yourself? These and many more questions are asked, but to the adventurous, it is part of the adventure. Anyways, take a look at the photo at the top – that is an Alberta lookout tower but not as you or I probably imagined it – sitting on the ground!

The photo is taken from a 2011 story by Calgary Herald reporterJamie Komarnicki Mystery and mountains: A look at Alberta forest fire spottersContinue reading

Chrome Island – a few photos for you

I received the following email from a friend on August 12, 2013:

“Pictures of Chrome Island Lighthouse taken by Bruce’s
sister-in-law  from Bruce’s brother’s living room at their home in Bowser, BC.”

 


View Chrome Island in a larger map
 
If you view the larger map you can see the points I have placed on the map showing Bowser, BC (the photographer’s home – green point) and Chrome Island Lighthouse – red point). I estimate the distance to be about three (3) kilometers.
 
 
I wish more people would send me photos of their favourite lighthouses. These are great! 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

Reprint – Lighthouse Homes

The story below is completely fictitious, but is very well done. From her idea the author has created a delightful lighthouse home! Maybe one of my readers can create another one which we can reprint here. How would you decorate your own fictitious lighthouse?

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Lighthouse Homes

published Thursday August 12, 2010

reprinted with permission from paperbean(AT)gmail(DOT)com

The storm sent the waves rolling and the rain pelting down… She banged and banged on the solid door, hoping for some respite from the high winds and slashing rains…

The door swung open to reveal a gruff man…

I remember the setting. I don’t remember the name of the book or the author… but I remember the setting. It’s probably been 10 years since I read that book (which I no longer have!).

The gruff man lived in a renovated/restored lighthouse.

What would my lighthouse be like?

Via kopishke - http://www.kopishke.org/

(Normally I eschew homes with stairs, preferring the single storied kind. But as we all know, lighthouses are/were built extra-solidly to weather storms, gales, winds… so I think I could live there!) Continue reading

Reprint – A Light on the Past

A light on the past

with permission from Rosalind Duane, North Shore News, August 05, 2012

Elaine Graham remains the only resident among the historical buildings at Point Atkinson Lighthouse. Photograph by: NEWS photo, Lisa King

ELAINE Graham was raised in the slums of London, far from the multi-hued green of nature.

“There was nothing on my street when I was growing up,” she recalls. “I had lots of play-friends, loads of kids to play with, but there wasn’t even a geranium on a windowsill.”

Many years later, Graham is now surrounded by 75 hectares of the largest first-growth stand of coastal-elevation trees in the Lower Mainland. Her home is nestled among the remaining structures at the base of Point Atkinson Lighthouse, which stands on a craggy promontory at the edge of Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

She has spent half her life here, and is eager to tell the story of her neck of the woods.

Graham moved to the Point Atkinson Lighthouse station with her husband Donald and two young sons in 1980. Donald became the last of the lighthouse keepers at the site (along with senior keeper Gerry Watson) when the lighthouse was automated in 1996.

The Grahams stayed on in one of the two keeper’s houses, she as a park attendant and he as a groundskeeper. Continue reading

Docent Duty at a Lighthouse Plus a Book Review

 

This post is very interesting. It comes from a lady, Kathleen Ernst, who with her husband performs docent duty1 on an automated lighthouse in the United States. She has also written a historically-accurate non-fiction crime novel about the same lighthouse. I asked her permission to reprint the article 2 in full for you, which was given freely, so it is reprinted below for your enjoyment. What a retirement job!.

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Docent Duty by Kathleen Ernst

My husband Scott and I are recently back from our 4th stint as docents at Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park, WI.  

Rock Island is situated off the northern tip of Door County in Lake Michigan, and Pottawatomie is the state’s oldest light station.

The current lighthouse, built in 1858, was magnificently restored by the Friends of Rock Island in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  It sits on top of a bluff on the northern end of Rock Island, over a mile from the boat landing and campground.  There are no roads on the island, and it takes two ferry rides to get there.

As docents, we give tours to guests from 10 AM to 4 PM each day.  Since Scott and I both love history, and telling stories, it’s a great gig.  We’re also responsible for housekeeping chores.


Otherwise, we get to live at the lighthouse.  How cool is that?

There’s no electricity or indoor plumbing.  (That’s Scott filling an Igloo at the old pump, in the rain.)  But we have a fridge and stove powered by bottled gas, and we get to sleep in the keepers’ bedroom.


We have lots of quiet evenings.  Lots of time for an impressionable writer to ponder stories of long-gone keepers, and to imagine the lighthouse as it once was.



So it was pretty much inevitable that I would write a book about the lighthouse.


In The Light Keeper’s Legacy (coming in October [2012]), my protagonist Chloe Ellefson is invited to serve as a guest curator at Pottawatomie Lighthouse.  She’s excited about the job and eager for some solitude in such a beautiful, remote place.  Needless to say, since this is a murder mystery, her time on Rock Island isn’t quite as peaceful as she’d hoped.

 Writing the book let me explore some new personal issues for Chloe, who is struggling to figure out what she wants from life.  And it let me write an homage to the strong individuals who lived on Rock Island in the 19th century.  The Light Keeper referenced in the title is Emily Betts, a real  and totally awesome woman who served as Assistant Keeper at Pottawatomie.  (In the National Archives photo below, that’s Emily barely visible in the doorway.)

 

The book also showcases the complexities of managing natural resources over the years.  And it let me share a very special place with readers—some of whom will, I hope, decide to visit Rock Island and support ongoing restoration projects.


 It doesn’t get much better than that.

http://kathleenernst.com
http://sitesandstories.wordpress.com
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1 docent: A person who acts as a guide, typically on a voluntary basis, in a museum, art gallery, or zoo.

2 The article was originally displayed on the Ink Spot blog which describes itself as a corps of crime fiction authors, so if you like crime fiction then check out their webpages.

Drowning at Lawyer Island c. 1904

In the Lighthouses of British Columbia guestbook I came across an entry by an “M. W. Harding”. He stated that his grandfather had been the first lighthouse keeper on Lawyer Island, near Prince Rupert, BC, and had accidentally drowned. I contacted Mr. Harding and got more information from him about his grandfather’s death. – retlkpr

In the words of – Ned Harding (Grandson of Thomas Harvey who was Senior Keeper at Lawyer Island 1921 – c.1905)

Lawyer Island c. 1900s - photo CCG, Prince Rupert.

He said: “I have some information regarding the Lawyer Island Lighthouse. This information was given to me by my mother who was the daughter of the original keeper. The keeper’s name was Thomas Harvey who took care of the light starting approximately 1901. He was married to my grandmother in 1898 and my mother was born in Vancouver in 1899.”

“My mother and grandmother were also at Lawyer Island from about 1902. The grandmother’s name was Hannah G. Harvey, and my mother’s original name was Frances T. Harvey. The light was tended by this duo until 1904 when my grandfather was lost in the sea while rowing to Prince Rupert as was his practice from time to time.” Continue reading

Mission Boat “William H. Pierce”

– as told to me by Mike Gallagher – deckhand and acting skipper “W. H. Pierce” and mate on the “Thomas Crosby IV”.

The following guestbook entry was received by Ron Ammundsen, webmaster of the BC Lighthouse web pages and forwarded to me. It was signed by Michael Gallagher.

Between 1952-56 in the summers, I was aboard the “William H. Pierce” with Dr. George Darby out of Bella Bella (now Waglisla). We went ashore at most lighthouses from Boat Bluff south to Egg Island , sometimes for medical reasons, sometimes to take magazines, have tea and talk . . . mainly listen.

WH Pierce at pointer island c. 1953 - photo Mike Gallagher

After Ron forwarded the entry to me I contacted Mike and asked if he had any stories for my Lighthouse Memories webpage. He said:

I probably have too many stories of my four summers with Dr. Darby, so I’ll mention a couple as they relate to lighthouses. Continue reading

Return to Sisters at Christmas c. 1927

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

We were there [Nanaimo, BC ] nearly three weeks and it was two days before Christmas then. I wanted to be back on the lighthouse for Christmas as Bert was there with the other three boys.

I phoned The Government Office to see if any boats were going up that way, but everyone was off on Christmas and New Year’s holidays. I went all around the wharf looking and asking anyone with a boat to please take us up to the lighthouse. No one wanted to go at any price! They knew the old gulf too well and didn’t want to risk it.

I kept going back and asking them to please take a chance and go. At last an older chap said “Alright, we will start out but I don’t think we will make it”. Continue reading