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

In Memorium – Donald Graham (1947 – 2003)

Donald Graham (1947 – October 10, 2003) was a Cultural Conservation Coordinator for the Province of Saskatchewan prior to becoming a British Columbia lightkeeper in 1976. He worked at Bonilla Island in Hecate Strait, at Lucy Island near the mainland and east of the northern Queen Charlottes and finally at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. With an M.A. in history and adept at political science, he spearheaded the partially successful campaign to curtail replacement of manned lighthouses with strictly automated signals. His two books, Keepers of the Light and Lights of the Inside Passage, reveal that many of B.C.’s lightkeepers were under-paid working class heroes. The first title won the second Roderick Haig-Brown B.C. Book Prize in 1986. Graham continued to live at the Lighthouse Park light station after it was officially ‘de-manned’. Graham was also noteworthy for claiming on CTV national news that the Allies had deliberately shelled the Estavan Point Lighthouse on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 1942 to whip up war fever. This attack, blamed at the time on a Japanese submarine, led to the expulsion of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast. Don Graham died of cancer in October, 2003. – ABC Book World

To include your memories in Don’s memorial please click this link.

Books published by Don Graham relating to lighthouses include

Keepers of the Light: A History of British Columbia’s Lighthouses and Their Keepers. Harbour Pub. Co., 1985. 
Lights of the Inside Passage: A History of British Columbia’s Lighthouses and Their Keepers. Harbour Pub. Co., 1986.