Strathcona Regional District Backs Down

From the website 

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Could the UK lighthouses be about to go in the dark?

From the BBC online news 

(NOTE: This is an image from the website. If the text is too small, hold down the CTRL key (lower left) on your keyboard and rotate the middle wheel on your mouse. The text will become larger or smaller depending on which direction you move the mouse wheel.) This applies to all websites and sites on the Internet.)




Lighthouse Automation Could Loom Again

Harper will need to watch his backbench, by Stephen Maher

Read the above article from the National Post online – September 16, 2011 – my condensed version below. – JAC

Is this the future?

On May 2, 2011, Harper’s Conservative Party won a majority government in the May 2011 federal election, by winning 166 seats.

With this majority the Prime Minister (PM) can plan long term. With a minority government the PM handed out money as if it were his own, trying to entice the public to support his party. Now that he has the much-coveted majority seats, he can relax a little, and begin to tighten the purse strings. Now the public will have to beg for funds, instead of having them freely given.

How will this affect lighthouses? We do not know, but if the past has been any clue, we may be in for another fight to keep our remaining lighthouses manned..

I think we need to keep the matter of automation in the public’s eye until it is definitely settled that the Canadian government will not automate any more lighthouse in Canada. Let me know what you think. – JAC


A Return to Foghorns a Boon to Safety Even in Age of GPS

photo - Chris Mills

A return to foghorns a boon to safety even in age of GPS

by Glen Farrough,  Vancouver Sun, September 08, 2011

It’s been roughly eight years since the Coast Guard silenced most of the foghorns on our coastal lighthouses, for a saving of $75,000 per year. The main reason used to justify this move was the increasingly widespread use of global positioning system (GPS) devices.

But this same Coast Guard still feels it’s necessary to have all their visual aids to navigation in place. They maintain their system of day markers, cardinal buoys, lighthouses, etc. Continue reading

Italy Still Has Manned Lighthouses


Italy will still need lighthouses. But with new technology, lighthouse keepers are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Already just 62 of the country’s 161 “faros” have actual human operators.

Lighthouse in Vieste, Italy (Roby Ferrari)Lighthouse in Vieste, Italy (Roby Ferrari)

 By Fabio Pozzo

LA STAMPA/Worldcrunch

More on this story here.

More Delays for Cape Mudge

– from Campbell River Mirror News by Kristen Douglas, online under  BC Local News

The chief of the We Wai Kai First Nation is not pleased the Strathcona Regional District may seek heritage protection for the Cape Mudge Lighthouse.

 Chief Ralph Dick says the land surrounding the Quadra Island lightstation belongs to the We Wai Kai/Cape Mudge Band and he doesn’t understand why the Regional District is trying to protect a lighthouse it does not have direct access to.

 “We want them to just butt out, we don’t want them involved at all,” Dick says. “They can’t get at it by road or water, it’s our land all around it, so we’re quite upset they’re trying to muscle in there. Continue reading

Lighthouse Advocate Frustrated by Delays

– from Campbell River Mirror News by Kristen Douglas, online under  BC Local News

A petition to save four area lighthouses could have been circulating by now if Strathcona Regional District directors had been more informed, says the district’s vice-chair.

 Jim Abram, the vice-chair and a former lightkeeper who has been fighting to save lightstations for several years, is disappointed his latest bid has temporarily stalled largely because of a staff report.

Abram received an e-mail from former senator, and lightkeeper advocate, Pat Carney asking him to bring forward letters detailing legislation that allows regional districts to sponsor lighthouses. Continue reading

‘Automation’ Comes to Triple Island c. 1950s

– from Jeannie (Hartt) Nielsen (daughter of Ed Hartt, Senior Keeper on Triple Island 1954 – 1957) 

Triple Island at Dusk*

Ed and Eileen Hartt were lightkeepers for a number of years, on Lawyer Island, Triple Island, and Langara Island. The following is an excerpt from one of my mother’s manuscripts about life on Triple Island in the 1950s. 

It shows how lightkeeper’s wives often had to pitch in and help out – and how lightkeepers had to come up with some innovative solutions at times! 

My father was an extremely resourceful man, and devised one of the first power devices used on the light stations for rotating the light within the tower. His ingenuity came in useful in many ways on other occasions as well. What follows is just one example . . . 


– from Eileen Hartt (Wife of Ed Hartt, Senior Keeper on Triple 1954 – 1957) 

The combination washing machine/spin dryer we had purchased, turned out to be a real comedian in disguise. Its well worn casters (in fact, they were flat on one side) didn’t prevent it from charging all over the kitchen, like a dog on a leash. Its long cord plugged into the light socket hanging on the usual wire strung from the ceiling. It lurched and charged around the room with me in pursuit, trying to load it. Ed and the children thought it as hilarious when I missed the tub and my load of clothes scattered across the floor. 

One night as we sat at the table, Don (our assistant keeper) told us that the clock drive for the tower wasn’t working properly. It had stopped half a dozen times the night before and had to be constantly watched. Ed and Don went to inspect it and I followed along. It didn’t take long to find the problem. The pulleys through which the cable passed were so worn from the long years of use that they were binding. The gears also were well worn. Ed and Don put their heads together and came up with an alarm that would ring if the light stopped turning . 

It wasn’t very long after we put the light on that night when we found out how well the alarm worked. The sudden loud jangle of the bell brought us all to our feet and the three of us ran for the tower. Reaching the lamp room panting, Ed paused long enough to push the turn table and count to make the light revolve as it must. The men disappeared through the open trap door, and I was left to count and push, count and push. At first it was easy, but then my arm lost feeling, so I changed arms; then back again. It became agony, but I didn’t dare stop. I wondered if they would ever come back! 

At last I heard feet on the cement steps. Ed told me to leave the light and get on the radio. I was to inform Digby and the Department of Transport that the light was inoperable. My arms and back ached as the blood returned, and I hurried down to the radio room. 

“Prince Rupert Radio, Prince Rupert Radio, Prince Rupert Radio: Triple Island calling!” 

“Triple Island, Prince Rupert back. We have a message for you. Copy? Your light is burning steady. Do you copy?” 

I glanced out the window and saw the lights of the ship that had just reported our light, passing in the night. 

“Prince Rupert Radio, have copied. I want to send one to the main office and your station; light inoperable, worn gears. Signed Ed Hartt, Triple Island. Do you copy?” 

I looked out at the passing ship lights and made a face at them then went back to the tower room to tell the men we had been reported. 

“Wouldn’t you know it?” Ed complained. “You don’t see a ship or boat all day, and the second things go wrong there’s one right there!” 

“That’s the way things go,” Don agreed. 

That night turned into a nightmare for the two men as they tried to keep the light turning. The weight would only drop about ten feet then stop and have to be wound up again. 

As I walked bleary eyed through the kitchen the next morning I found my rambling washing machine was not in its usual place. It had given its life to become part of the electric drive Ed had devised to keep the light revolving. I found its remains in the engine room, but it was in a good cause, as our light never burned steady again. 

* photo – Triple Island at Dusk – Mike Mitchell

Triple Island 3rd Order Lens

Triple Island lens © C. Mills


This light was first made available to mariners on January 1st, 1921 to travel to the bustling port of Prince Rupert from the north. It was originally fired by a pressurized gas vapour lamp which would have been visible for over 12 miles (19 kilometers).

Electric generators installed in the late 1960s  replaced this vapour lamp with an incandescent lamp and later with a mercury vapour lamp as seen in some of the photos below.

The lamp, reflector and base all floated on a large bowl of mercury. Even though the light weighed hundreds of pounds, it could be turned easily with one finger.

The Canadian government declared mercury a hazardous substance (like asbestos) in the 1990s and removed it from all work places. Reluctantly, the lamp was no longer usable.

Also, because of the planned automation of the lights which has gone on since the early 1970s, there was no reason to replace or modify the light and its housing – the Coast Guard abandoned it as a an Aid to Navigation.

The photos below show what replaced it. An APRB 252 12 volt battery-operated “flashlight”.