The True Story of Egg Island November 2, 1948

The author, Dennis Wilkins, Green Island 1947

There have been many reports, newspaper articles, books, etc. written about the disaster that occurred at Egg Island Lighthouse station November 2nd, 1948 – none of which tell the true story. A few of the newspaper reporters of that time interviewed my father, many more got their stories second, third and fourth hand. None of the authors of the books written since have ever interviewed or talked directly to my father, Robert Laurence Wilkins, my mother, Ada Marie Wilkins or myself, Dennis Edward Wilkins. I mention the names in full to finally get the characters of the story straight.

Many of the stories in print are, in themselves, very interesting and intriguing – lacking only in the fact that that is not what or how it all happened. The fault may not lie with the various authors; the Government of Canada did much to avoid the truth from being heard then and later. Now that both my mother and father are dead, and most of the other players in the story are long since past, I feel reasonably safe in documenting the story.
The purpose of this record is primarily for my family and friends, who have always shown a greater fascination for the story than myself (perhaps since I was there). Secondly, there may be the odd other person who has heard the story before and would appreciate knowing just what really happened that day.

To start the story, some background is required to set the scene. I will start just before the move to Egg Island early in 1948. Continue reading

Disaster of the “Grier Starrett” off Green Island 1929

– Copy courtesy of “Chris Mills (Relief Keeper on many BC lights 1994 – 1997) 

Green island - looking west

 

 

The story of the tragedy of the “Grier Starr” with the loss of the skipper Harold Dahl. Copy of lightkeeper Moran’s report typed on April 24, 1929.

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In Memorium – Donna (Sheppard) Viereck (1947 – 2012)

Donna Marie (Sheppard) Viereck (January 8th, 1947 Whitney Pier, NS – February 26, 2012 Prince Rupert, BC) – friend of the lightkeepers.

I met Donna for the first time in 1976 when I moved to Green Island lighthouse as Principal Keeper. The ship overnighted at the Prince Rupert Coast Guard Base, and such a reception from CG personnel I had never before experienced. The welcome and help was outside their normal duty.

One of the memorable people was Donna Sheppard, the boss of the Personnel office and a nicer person one could not ever meet. She had almost ten (10) years experience there before me.

Over the years of working out of the Prince Rupert office I had a lot of contact with Donna. She and I fought like brother and sister over Personnel matters but remained good friends throughout. 

I am going to miss you Donna. I only wish that i had been able to say goodbye. RIP.

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

More information on Donna’s life can be found here on the InMemoriam.ca website.

Groceries at Green Island c.1975

Cloo-Stung - photo Barry Duggan

The Cloo-Stung was a catamaran of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) used for delivery of personnel and supplies to Prince Rupert area lighthouses in protected waters. The groceries were delivered to the Coast Guard base in Prince Rupert from the local stores. These were then packed in slings (large canvas or net circles with ropes attached to allow them to be attached to a hook) and loaded onto the Cloo-Stung. Continue reading

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

With credit to Robbie Burns for the title quote I will tell a tale of woe that  I heard  many years ago about the Green Island lightkeepers and how they had run out of tobacco (a common occurence on the lighthouses) and the keepers had pooled their money to charter a float plane from Prince Rupert, 25 miles (15.5 kms) away, to bring some more cigarettes and tobacco out to the lighthouse. 

It should be easy, eh? - photo Ray McKenzie

The small float plane arrived with the cargo on board and circled the island a few times, tipping his wings as he spotted the keepers standing outside waving. But alas, he radioed the keepers that because of the outflow northeast winds from Portland Canal he could not land on the ocean as requested, but, if the keepers wanted to take the risk, he could could fly over the island and drop the package from the cockpit window.  Continue reading