Updates

lighthouse-clip-art_422123_sm_6-150x106As most of you know, and I keep reminding people, this lighthouse website began as a simple list of lighthouse keepers after I retired from 32 years of lighthouse keeping in 2001. I created the first website for historical and genealogical purposes. After a few years, and much help from the public, it developed into this second website.

The database listing all the keepers resides on my personal computer and is updated on the website whenever I get more information. From the database I create a printout of the information and post it on this site. Last time I checked I had . . .

. . . collected 1129 British Columbia (BC) lighthouse keeper names on 96 different lights, for a total of 1922 changes / moves / appointments.

One of the lesser-known bits of lighthouse information is that lightkeepers did not always reside in a lighthouse – notice the term lightkeeper rather than lighthouse keeper. These men kept a light burning for mariners but lived on the land rather than maintaining a lighthouse. Most probably they held day jobs as well, as the only duties for the mariners was to row out to their light before dusk and light the lamp, and then row home. Just after sunrise they would row out again, extinguish the light, refuel the lamp, and clean the lens in preparation for the evening lighting. It was not a hard job except in stormy winter weather.

Not many of these men are remembered but I have managed to record a few in the database. If interested read near the bottom of the database page for my request “I need your help“.

Just recently I received an email from a Ms. J. Milton about Channel Rock Light which I had not been able to locate. Here is the information I now have on this light:

  • Channel Rock*……………- This was a light in Uganda Pass between Cortes Island and Shark Spit on Marina Island. One of the keepers was John Poole, followed by Alex McKee – I don’t know the exact dates.
    A writer, Gilean Douglas, moved to Cortes Island in 1948, to the property homesteaded by John Poole. That property is known as Channel Rock. – thanks J. Milton for the information.Unknown location could it be LL 258, on N. end of North Channel Islands, near Saltspring Island, chart 3478? (1914 – 1943){/private]

Please, if you know some information about any of these unknown lights or their keepers please pass it on to me. Thanks – retlkpr

 

Church Mission Boats on the British Columbia Coast

I have mentioned a few of these boats before on this site – the Thomas Crosby V (here and here), the Columbia III, and the William H. Pierce. This article should finish the series once and for all. I never knew there were so many church mission boats on the British Columbia (BC) coast.

In the early 1900s lighthouses were very isolated. Maybe a Coast Guard ship about every six (6) months, but to the keepers, and many other isolated residents of the BC coast the mission boats were their only contact with civilization. Here is a list of others I have found, which also includes a short mention of the ones mentioned above (listed in alphabetical order).

John Antle (Columbia Coast Mission) (1904)

The pioneer mission hospital of St. Mary’s, Pender Harbour, where Anglican ships had brought their patients, still standing but reincarnated these days as the Sundowner Inn, was 75 in 2004. It was built by the Columbia Coast Mission, which started life 100 years ago when Rev. John Antle and his nine-year-old son, Victor, left Vancouver in their open, five-metre boat on an 800-kilometre journey to Alert Bay and back. Continue reading

Visiting the BC Coast Lighthouses

Do you want to visit some of British Columbia lighthouses? A lot of them are isolated, but there are a few that tourists can easily see. Some of these are manned; some are automated.

One of the best websites for finding the location of the  lighthouses is Ron Ammundsen’s Lighthouses of British Columbia website. On the opening page he has maps of manned/staffed and unmanned lighthouses and their locations. This will show you what is available, and where they are located. To find photos and information on the chosen lighthouses check out Google.

 

One of the main items you will require is a place to stay. When flying to British Columbia via International Airlines (from another country) your point of entry would be Vancouver International Airport (YVR). From there you have a variety of ways to accommodate yourself – from hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, camp site, hostel, inn, resort, etc. Select from the list on the Hello BC website. Enter your dates, town, and preference, and select a place to stay. Really easy website to find your way around.

The next thing after a room for the night, is a place to eat. Canada is well-known for its diversity in the culinary arts, and British Columbia is no exception. The easiest way is to introduce you to a special webpage called Dining, again from Hello BC. This is an interactive menu connected to a BC map. Pick what type of food you want, where you want to eat, and wait for the results. It is well organized and easy to use.

The choice is amazing! Your selection may be saved as a PDF file for reference. Pick your town, pick your food and grab a cab to good dining. The nice thing is you can look on the map to see if a location is near your place of residence for any place in BC. The map (left) shows the 538 results from just selecting West Coast. Each red flag is a city with multiple locations in each. Each result will give you location, telephone number and website if available. A very comprehensive help page.

Fisgard Lighthouse

Before you come you should decide where you want to go, and what lighthouses you want to see. Most of the available lighthouses will be seen in and around the cities of Vancouver, and Victoria, BC. Others are visible from the ferries, and up and down Vancouver Island. On the Hello BC website on the Things To Do page there are no exact listings for lighthouses but if you type lighthouse in the search box (upper right) you will get a page of lighthouse listings, things lighthouse, resorts near lighthouses, etc. With the map from the website on Lighthouses of British Columbia you can then sort out where you want to go and which lighthouse you may wish to visit..

If you want to get off the beaten track, you can fly into many places or take ferries, hike in, or even rent a local water taxi or fish boat. The opportunities are unlimited depending on your time and finances. On the Hello BC webpage is also a section on Transportation and Maps listing many services available in BC.

Take your time, talk to other tourists, and if you have any questions, maybe I or other readers can help you out. They don’t call it Beautiful BC for nothing. Enjoy!

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To help you enjoy the coast more, it might be helpful to read up on a few of the things you might find at the shoreline. A great website for this is Vic High Marine. Check out the information on all things you might stumble across, or see on your trip.

Any more good advice out there? Please send it on and I will post it.

Aiding and Abetting* at Pulteney Point c. 1970

* see Wikipedia for a definition

Pulteney Point - photo John Morris

One of our responsibilities as a lighthouse keeper was to assist mariners in distress. This was not a written rule. The written rule was to maintain the light and foghorn.

There was one stipulation in our Rule Book where we could assist a mariner who ran out of gas or diesel by supplying them with enough fuel, free of charge, to get them to the next port of call where they could purchase their own.

One evening Walt Tansky, my boss on Pulteney Point at the time, was interrupted by a knock at the door and saw a young man there who informed him that he had run out of gas and could he get enough to get him to Port Hardy. Walt said he remarked that Port McNeil or Sointula was closer, but the man said he had just come from Alert Bay and was heading north. Continue reading