Imagine you are a lighthouse keeper on the graveyard shift on a foggy night. All you hear are the diesel engines running, the foghorn blowing at intervals. As you stare out into the gloomy mist you hear this sound. It is a boat, but what kind of boat? What kind of motor?
Many old-timers will recognize it as the sound of a classic make and break Easthope 2-stroke marine gasoline engine on idle. It probably belonged to a fisherman waiting out the fog so he could see where he was going. It was a sound that carried through the fog just like the foghorn.
To hear it again brings back many memories. If you wish to see the fishboat that housed this engine take a look at this Youtube page.
For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One.
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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What a nice surprise! Today on Facebook the lighthouse keeper, Colin Toner, who is residing at my old workplace at McInnes Island posted a fantastic video of the lighthouse. Please watch in full screen to get the full effect.
Watch as the MBB105 helicopter approaches the island in the rain. You can see the rain striking the windscreen on the front of the helicopter.
Later get a tour of the light and a walk around the island in the stormy weather. Take note of the heavy seas. That is life in winter on the west coast of Canada.
Thanks Colin for the memories, and special thanks goes to Tineke Veenhoven for creating the film!
For a larger and higher quality version please go to Youtube. I had trouble getting it to embed here.
The British Colonist is the forerunner of the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper from Victoria, British Columbia (BC) Canada. It is an old newspaper and originated in 1858 in the Gold Rush period of BC history.
As this site is mostly interested in BC lighthouses here is a page from May 04, 1913 that will interest you. It is entitled The Lights that Guard our Coast and is on page 25 of the full newspaper listed in PDF format here.
If you wish to download your own PDF copy of this newspaper, left click your mouse on the large italicized “i” in the upper right menu of the page above and and right click your mouse on PDF and select “Save link as…” and then save it to your computer.
For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One.
Tell Tale Productions Inc’s. documentary “Lighthouses” – the film has been completed and has had its world broadcast premiere on CBC Television’s Land and Sea Sunday, November 24, 2013. If you missed it you can see it online on CBC Land and Sea.
Lighthouses Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-eyXSyl0Og&feature=youtu.be
Lighthouses Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/580960155309104/
Another beautiful video called “Salmon Confidential” showing the life cycle of Sockeye Salmon, and the problems they are encountering now with salmon farms, and other unknown fish diseases. Thirty-six minutes long but well-worth the watch because of the beautiful photography of wildlife on the British Columbia coast, both above and below the water.
The Canadian Coast Guard HQ at Victoria, British Columbia–what a beautiful building! This view is from the Blackball Ferry deck on approach to the harbor. Those buoys look like Dreidels lined up on the rocks for Hanukkah! – posted on Facebook by author and friend of mine Elinor DeWire
Canada just acquired a new (used) hovercraft from England. It was shipped to Vancouver, British Columbia by the boat shipping company Peters & May. On their Facebook page they posted some wonderful photos of the loading of the hovercraft on one of their ships. Quite a feat!
And from the Fisheries & Oceans Canada media website:
November 27, 2013
Vancouver, British Columbia – The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors) and Member of Parliament for Richmond, today announced the arrival in Canada of the new hovercraft to be stationed at Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia – the CCGS Moytel.
[private]“Our Government is committed to investing where it counts in the interest of the Canadian Coast Guard. In fact, our Government has invested more in the Canadian Coast Guard than any government in Canadian history,” said Minister Shea. “We will continue to ensure the men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard have the equipment they need to do the important work we ask of them.”
Upon completion of construction, the new hovercraft was shipped to British Columbia and will soon travel to Sea Island. Following a period of training for Coast Guard staff and inspection to ensure the vessel’s optimal condition following shipping, the vessel will be accepted into the Coast Guard fleet.
“Our investment in the CCGS Moytel, a world-class modern hovercraft, is another example of our Government’s commitment to ensure the safety of fishermen, recreational boaters, and sailors in and around Vancouver Harbour,” said Minister Wong. “The name of the new vessel is in Halq’eméylem, in recognition of our First Nations’ contribution to the province’s history, culture and economy.”
The new hovercraft will be named the CCGS Moytel. Moytel is a Halq’emélem word meaning “to help each other.” Canadian Coast Guard vessels are given names that promote Canadian sovereignty, culture, geography and history. Names of vessels are selected to raise the profile of vessels and the work they do by honouring and celebrating people and places of regional and national significance.
As a replacement for the CCGS Penac, the new Moytel will be a heavy-duty, more versatile amphibious vehicle capable of patrolling inland waters. A larger more powerful vessel than the CCGS Penac, it has a greater range of capabilities and features including a bow ramp that will enable it to transport supplies such as rescue equipment and vehicles.
Since 2009, the Government of Canada has delivered over 100 vessels to the Coast Guard, including: 6 Hero-class Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels (CCGS Private Robertson V.C., CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., CCGS Corporal Teather C.V, CCGS Constable Carrière, CCGS G. Peddle S.C and CCGS McLaren); the hovercraft CCGS Mamilossa; 5 Search and Rescue Lifeboats; 2 Specialty Vessels; 3 Near-Shore Fishery Research Vessels; 30 environmental barges; and 60 small craft. [/private]
And from a former lighthouse keeper and friend of mine, Chris Mills, comes this wonderful view of a Fresnel lens – photos and a video showing the lens in action.
The photo at the left shows the lamp, lens, mercury bath bearing, and winding apparatus which was installed on the Pachena Point lighthouse in February 1908. The lens is a 1st order Fresnel lens made by Chance Brothers of Birmingham England – one of the largest sizes possible, and it all sits on a wooden tower!
The glass lens, 3 m tall, 2.5 m wide and weighing 400 kg was brought by boat around Cape Horn. The 1000-watt bulb in use now puts out four million candlepower and is visible from Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. (reference)
This graphic was sent to me by a friend but I have no idea of the source. I have searched Google and the only mention of the photo that I found was in reference to the Eddystone lighthouse, which this definitely is not. Continue reading
The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) carries lighthouse keepers and their supplies (groceries, mail, household goods, etc) usually by ship or helicopter. This story describes the inner workings of the Canadian Coast Guard light icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier as told by my friend Abe Van Oeveren. I have been on several ships and they are indeed a complicated piece of machinery run by very competent men and women.
Abe’s comments to me about the story when I asked permission to reprint:
The account is based on material gathered on several trips blended together to make a story that flows end to end. To make it readable I avoided talking about too much crappy weather which keeps everybody on board the ship unable to fly up to Van, Naden or Barry, or how the ship’s crew’s collective mood changes as the 28 day typical patrol proceeds. Continue reading
A rare white ‘spirit bear’ in the BC temperate rainforest. Photo: Ian McAllister / pacificwild.org.
In the sanctuary of the White Bear by Canadian Poet Lorna Crozier
17th November 2013
Poet Lorna Crozier vists the Great Bear Rainforest in BC, Canada and finds a fragile paradise imbued with myth, meaning and magic for local indigenous peoples.
Above the stench of rotting salmon, my smell has been drawn into a grizzly’s nostrils, through the nasal passages inside his long snout. Part of me now lives inside the mind of an omnivorous animal whose Latin name ends with horribilis.
The bear is here for the salmon, who have returned to the rivers of their birth to spawn and die. We’re here for the bears.
Photographer/filmmaker Ian McAllister has joined my husband Patrick and me on our first morning to help introduce us to his home turf, the Great Bear Rainforest, a tract of land that follows B.C.’s coastline from the tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle. He and his wife Karen run the Pacific Wild conservation group to protect this astonishing piece of wildness that they’ve known intimately for over twenty years.
The largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, the traditional territory of the Kitasoo / Xai’xais First Nation, this region is only two short flights from Vancouver. But we are as far from a city, as far from ordinary life, as you can get. . . . more
[private]With seven others, we’ve been bounced across the ocean to our riverside destination in an old forestry boat. At home, most of us can’t spare the time to meet a friend for coffee, but here we’ll wait side by side, motionless and quiet, for several hours in the drenching rain.
Two guides armed only with pepper spray keep watch over us. They assure us they’ve never had to use it. Their confidence and my excitement make me tuck any fears I have away – into a back jeans pocket I can’t reach under my layers of hoodie, vest, jacket and rain gear.
All of us crouch with binoculars and cameras, careful not to sink our knees into a salmon. Hundreds of them, tossed by bears from the river, are turning into a foul mush. When the grizzly appears again, about twenty feet across from us on the other shore, we know Ian is getting the best pictures. We keep snapping anyway.
Through its tall windows, we scan what looks like a National Geographic documentary. Pointing out seals and eagles, we and the other guests, most of them from Europe, crowd around the window like kids around an ice-cream truck.
Maybe if we’re lucky, at dusk, we’ll see one of the wolves unique to the western coast. Along with deer, they catch salmon.
The lodge is modeled on the traditional long house and it’s named after the elusive white bear called the ‘Spirit Bear‘.
Raven, the traditional story goes, made one out of every 10 black bears white to remind us of the ice age. This unique creature is here to make us grateful: the world wasn’t always as green and lush as it is today.
Every morning, rainforest life generously comes to meet us. Five senses aren’t enough to take it all in.
Isn’t this what Canada’s all about? Barely inhabited, out-of-the-way places that remind humans who we were before we became so fearful, so tame? Before we became so destructive as a species?
As twilight falls, we return to the lodge by boat for its scrumptious dinners, the halibut so fresh that the name of the man who hooked it and the date he did are listed on the menu. Manager Tim McGrady – fierce in his love of this watery ecosystem – greets us at the dock and asks what we’ve seen.
Over the 12-foot-long cedar dinner table, Patrick and I go on and on about a mother and a baby humpback, the mother slapping her tail repeatedly on the taut skin of the ocean. Was it whales who invented drumming?
Five minutes later, we would see two Orcas knife through the water. Then we understood. The humpback was warning her nearby pod and scaring off these skillful hunters who might have targeted her calf.
The next day, I travel up the ocean channel to an old crab apple grove where a spirit bear might appear. Patrick chooses a shorter trip. In my case, the spirit bear lives up to its other name – ghost bear – and stays invisible.
But Patrick sees a grizzly flop on her back to feed her triplets, so close a camera catches a drop of milk on her nipple when one cub tumbles off her belly.
I’m jealous. But an afternoon boat trip on the Pacific makes up for what I missed.
Patrick and I watch two humpbacks blow an elongated oval of bubbles to trap shrimp-like krill. The whales then rise to the surface through the centre of this airy net, their magnificent mouths wide open, catching their meal.
Looking down a whale’s gullet makes me shiver. Boy, how small I am!
On the day a storm blows in and the boats can’t go out, Doug Neasloss, the visionary behind the lodge, invites us into the Big House in Klemtu and tells us the history of his people and the work they’re doing to protect their homeland.
In 2012, they declared their territory off-limits to trophy hunting of bears (even though the B.C. gov’t allows it). Then, with other Coastal First Nations, they made a film about a grizzly skinned and left to rot in a field, head and paws carried out past a sign banning such hunting.
The timing of the film is sadly relevant. Just before its release this past September, The Vancouver Sun published photos of a defenceman with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild – how ironic is that name? – holding the severed head of a grizzly he shot in a rainforest estuary.
The tenderness the Kitasoo / Xai’xais feel for their culture and their home territory is palpable. We hear it in our skippers, who are all from Klemtu, and in Sierra, a grade 11 student who’s one of the lodge’s guides-in-training.
Every night in bed, she reads one of her people’s stories, and in her dreams, she’s in the story, walking among the humans and the creatures of the forest. The humans and the animals are talking to one another.
Many believe the Spirit Bear has special powers, she tells me.
Having sunk into the moss floors of the forests, having been held in the mind of a grizzly and the eye of a whale, I’m O.K., this time, to have missed Raven’s reminder of the ice age.
I’m sure there’s another reason for its creation, a reason that will sink in after I’m back home.
To many who live here, this singular being is an emblem of the sacredness of the rain coast and its vulnerability. They fear for potential oil spills in the area.
To them, this nightmare is a real and present danger as various levels of the Canadian government debate the sanctioning of oil tanker traffic through this delicate ecosystem.
They imagine the white bear soaked in oil, rivers and estuaries thick with crude muck, salmon thrashing in its slick, and orcas smeared with bitumen.
I’ve fallen under the spell of this rare sanctuary where salmon are born and die, where wolves have learned to swim and fish, and where mist may turn suddenly into the lumbering body of a mystic bear.
How diminished, how thin-hearted, how lonely we are as a species if there aren’t safe places in the world where the unique, the magnificent, can survive.
Postscript: The day after Patrick and I arrived home, Oliver from Germany, one of our companions who’d stayed an extra day at Spirit Bear Lodge, wrote that he did see a Spirit Bear. It stepped out of the moss-draped trees onto the stones of a river where he was set up with his camera on the other side. How thrilled he was. He’s seen what few people in his country, what few people in Canada or in the world, have ever seen. Check out thislink to his images
Lorna Crozier is a Canadian poet and holds the Head Chair in the Writing Department at the University of Victoria.