The Lightkeepers by Graham Chandler

Originally published in the January/February 2007 issue of Legion Magazine

We hadn’t expected gourmet Hungarian goulash served up on Royal Doulton china. But at the Cape Scott light station on the remote northwestern tip of Vancouver Island–a place that is normally engulfed in wet grey and storms–today is an exception. The sky is azure, there’s not a puff of wind, and Principal Keeper Harvey Humchitt and his partner Assistant Keeper Todd Maliszewski have house guests.

After sweating through 24 kilometres of squishy rain forest trails we’re no match for the fine linens and silver flatware spread impeccably before us on the dining table. The trek through the forest is the only way to get here without a boat or helicopter. After a couple of greeting barks from their dog Lady, Humchitt welcomes us to Cape Scott. Continue reading

Recent Storm on Cape Scott 2012

Cape Scott on a good day - photo Harvey Humchitt, Jr.

Every winter the West coast of Canada is pounded by storms with Hurricane Force winds (scale 12 on the Beaufort Scale).

Below you can read what the lightkeeper at Cape Scott lighthouse posted for this April 02, 2012 storm. The keeper, Harvey Humchitt, Jr. posted this information on his Facebook page.

Wind southwest 10 to 20 knots (18 to 37km/hr) increasing to southeast 20 to 30 knots (37 to 55km/hr) this afternoon and to 30 to gales 40 knots (55 to 74km/hr) early this evening. Wind increasing to southeast storm force 50 to 60 knots (92 to 111km/hr) near midnight except HURRICANE FORCE 65 knots (120km/hr) near the headlands Monday morning. Wind diminishing to southwest 25 to gales 35 (46 to 64km/hr) near noon Monday.

04:43 PST MONDAY APRIL 2, 2012 Hurricane is here full force hittin us hard at 80 knots 150km/hr, and a ton of rain

07:34 PST MONDAY APRIL 2, 2012 We were hit by almost 200km/hr winds that took out two storm doors, the crown on a spare house, the siding on a spare house and flooded our engine room. Winds are still gusting to 180km/hr, and horizontal rain.

11:38 PST Final Hurricane status report, winds hit 230 km/hr, lots of heavy rain that dumped 40mm of rain and the seas hit near 30ft. Damage done, two screen doors lost, siding on one house gone, crown on roof…gone, flashing for roofing…..gone, 3 trees fell, bassement in spare house flooded, engine room flooded and a stick punctured a hole in our sat dish for the tv but still works. In all….a typical British Columbia North Coast Hurricane. This is probably the last Hurricane force wind we will see now until the fall.

I do not think I have ever seen a storm like this when I was on the lighthouses – at least one  quite as strong in intensity. Climate change? 

Below are some photos Harvey made after the storm had gone through. Note the stormy seas and ragged clouds. Remember, these were made after the storm passed over. During the storm you cannot even get outside the house sometimes.  (All photos credited to Harvey Humchitt, Jr.

Supplies for Cape Scott Lighthouse 1975

CCGS Sir James Douglas - photo F&O Canada

 In 1975 we (myself, my wife Karen and our two young children, our dog, cats, and all our furnishings) were on our way clockwise around Vancouver Island from Quatsino lighthouse to Pachena Point on board the CCGS Sir James Douglas with acting Captain Tom Hull. This was a grocery run so the trip was already pre-planned and we were just passengers. 

The seas were not high but as we rounded Cape Scott, the northern-most tip of Vancouver Island, we began to roll in the southwest swell. As we motored around into quieter waters on the inside of Vancouver Island, we were still being tossed around by occasional large ocean swells.  Continue reading

Cape Scott Before the Lighthouse 1942 – 1943

In July 1942, seventeen (17) years before the present lighthouse at Cape Scott was lit, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) established a radio detection finding (RDF) transmitter and receiver at the point. Work was started in July 1942 and the station was online in December 1942. It continued in operation until September 1945. (please see reference notes below). 

Ernest J. Ferguson

Late in 2005 the lighthouse keeper at Cape Scott, Harvey Humchitt, received an inquiry from Ernest J. Ferguson who was reminiscing about his earlier life and wanted to visit Cape Scott, his old haunt from 1942. He was a well-retired RCAF Pilot Officer who started on Cape Scott in July 1942 as a Leading Aircraftman (LAC). 

In his email he wished to visit the area once more but Coast Guard would not permit it because of his age (he was 85 years old this year [2006]). Since then he has written Harvey and myself and given us a few black and white photos and stories of his time setting up No. 10 Radio Detachment on Cape Scott.  Continue reading

Cape Scott Lighthouse Today

Cape Scott lighthouse today

Cape Scott lighthouse is located at the north end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC) Canada. It is situated in Cape Scott Provincial Park.

To quote from the Provincial Park Website:

“Cape Scott Provincial Park is a truly magnificent area of rugged coastal wilderness that is located at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, 563 kilometers from Victoria.

Established in 1973 and named after the site of a lighthouse that has guided mariners since 1960, Cape Scott is characterized by more than 115 kilometers of scenic ocean frontage, including about 30 kilometers of spectacular remote beaches . . . 

. . .  The lighthouse and the Cape are outside the provincial park boundary and are private property belonging to the Department of National Defence. The old trail and foghorn were built during World War 2 by DND staff to give access to the beach, etc. but as the old structures, boardwalk and suspension bridges deteriorated, they became dangerous and were removed by the Federal Government. BC Parks is not responsible for this trail and not allowed to trespass on this private property.”

The photos were taken by the lighthouse keeper Harvey Humchitt, and his assistant Todd Malezewski. More photos are available here.