Life on First Narrows Lighthouse and Fog Station c. 1915+

Capilano Lighthouse behind the Empress of Japan - photo Dudley Booth


– a letter written by Dorothy Mawdsley (Harris) Harrop (daughter of first light keeper, George Alfred Harris, at Capilano 1915 – 1925),  with special thanks to Alfred Harrop, grandson of George Alfred Harrop, for letting me post the text of the letter.


This letter is a bit long, as people were prone to write a lot before the advent of computers. If you have the time, this is a fascinating story of life way back then. – JAC


Perhaps my grandchildren will take time to read this when I am long gone. We came to Vancouver  in 1909. I had just turned my 13th birthday. My father could not get work of any description. He had a Chief Engineer Ticket from Liverpool [UK]  but owing to the B.C. laws he was not allowed to work as an engineer even on a small tug in the inlet. It must have been very hard on both my father and my mother.  Continue reading

Fishing in the Fog – Pulteney Point c. 1970s

The following story came to mind when a friend of mine from Victoria made a comment on this website.

The water on the Inside Passage called Queen Charlotte Strait is know for its enveloping fogs which cover all land and sea, sometimes for days at a a time.

Pulteney Point (top middle) and Kluxewe river (bottom middle)

In the early 1970s I was stationed at Pulteney Point Lighthouse – my first appointment to the lightstation service. What a delightful place it was, and the keepers, Walt and Joyce Tansky were the best  to have for a person starting on the lights.

One summer’s day my friend Rich was visiting for a few days salmon fishing. I had a fifteen (16) foot (5 meter) canoe. I was very familiar with it, but Rich still had to learn. Continue reading

Book – Chance Brothers Diaphone Manual

Chance Diaphone Book


This is a PDF copy of the Chance Diaphone Manual, which explains all the workings of the Diaphone Foghorn, and lists the many versions of the foghorn, their ranges, working pressures, sizes, etc. Click the link above to read or download the book.

Sisters Island Fog Horn & Light c. 1927

– Elizabeth Kate (Stannard) Smithman (Wife of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929). Story donated by her grandson Allen Smithman. 

Sisters Island c. 1927 - photo Allen Smithman

The fog alarm has to be kept going when it is foggy or snowing a blizzard. This alarm is also used when it is smoky in summer from forest fires. 

In the fog alarm building there are two big Fairbanks-Morse gas engines. It only takes one to run the fog alarm but when one breaks down the light keeper has to get the other one going. He then must fix the one that broke down in case the other fails, for the fog alarm must be kept going when it is foggy.  Continue reading

Life on a Lighthouse by Grandma Stannard c. 1927

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

Ballenas  and Sisters  Islands 

I thought you might be interested to hear about “Life On a Lighthouse”. 

We lived on them for about 5 ½ to 6 years and I guess we would have stayed and made a lifetime job of it but Bert [my husband] got very sick and had to be taken off to hospital where after a lingering illness he passed away. 

Well some folks think it must be very lonesome life but there’s too much to do to get lonesome and besides, it’s a wonderful, interesting life. 

We were on two different lights. The first one was the best as it was a bigger island and we could have a garden and there was lots of room for the children to play, however I took sick and as we thought lighthouse life did not suit me, Bert asked to be replaced by another light keeper. 

We moved to Parksville, [Vancouver island, BC, Canada] where we had been getting our mail, etc. 

Anyway I was no better (for awhile anyway) but after some time I improved but we had learned that it wasn’t being on a lighthouse that caused my sickness so we put in for another.  Continue reading