In Memorium – Elmer Cordoni (1923 – 2013)

CORDONI, Elmer Frank “Bunk” October 18, 1923 – August 31, 2013 Elmer was born in Port Arthur, Ontario and passed away in Burnaby, BC, after a lengthy stay in hospital. He was predeceased by his wife, Olga, brothers Harold (Peggy), Peter (Shirley), Tony (Doris), and sisters Elvira (Ted) and Lydia (Alvin). He is survived by his loving family, children Corinne (Richard), Steve, Raymond (Deirdre) and Catherine, grandchildren Kristi (Barron), Stacey, Ryan (Ling), Allison (Mike) and Harley, great- grandchildren Else and Grace, and brothers Dante (Margaret) and Alfred (Vi), sisters, Doris (Judd) and Josephine, as well as many nephews and nieces.

When he was 3 years old, Elmer moved with his family to Fort Langley, BC. The large family survived the Great Depression by farming and fishing. In young adulthood, he was conscripted by the army, where he was stationed in Europe. He loved to tell stories, and was christened Bunk by his army buddies when he told them the story of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Another story: he was slated to go out to the front at Dunkirk, on the next boat, and fortunately, was rescued by the declaration of armistice. By 1951 he and Catherine Marie Hinsche got married, and started their family. Elmer was a fisherman, a gillnetter, and always handy with a hammer and saw, he built his own fishing boat, the Castanet. With Marie, he built the family home in Haney. Then came the lighthouse days, from 1958 to 1967. Elmer took a posting to the isolated lightstation, Scarlett Point. In 1963, the family moved to Active Pass Lightstation on Mayne Island.

In 1967, Elmer and Marie divorced and Elmer became a single father. With his children, he moved to East Vancouver. Later, he met and married Olga, and they spent many happy years buying handyman special real estate bargains, fixing them up and making a bit of money. He took early retirement from his job of maintaining the navigational lights on the Fraser River, up to Indian Arm. Elmer and Olga built a new house in Fleetwood, Surrey, and had a summer place in Bowser, BC. Later, they sold both places and moved to Parksville, where they lived until Olga’s death.

In the later years of his retirement, Elmer moved back to Fleetwood, where he spent time with family and travelled to exotic locations with his daughter, Catherine. He came more alive when around his family, always ready with a smile and sometimes, a funny ditty or jingle. He will be sorely missed.

Thanks go to the staff at Surrey Memorial Hospital, who took care of Elmer for 9 months, and to the staff at Fellburn Care Centre, who helped him in the last days of his life. Reception to be held at Langley Golf Centre, 21550 – 44th Ave Langley, Sunday, October 27, 1:30 to 4:30.

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Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Oct. 5, 2013

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


In Memorium – Reg Gunn (1929 – 2013)

Reg Gunn

Reg Gunn

Captain Reginald (Reg) Gunn. It is with great heartfelt sadness that we announce the passing of our loved one on April 27, 2013. Reg was born on June 22, 1929 in the County of Durham, England. He came to Canada in 1951, where he joined the Canadian Coast Guard. In 1961, he earned his Master of Home-Trade Steamship, and served at sea on the west coast of Canada. In 1974, he accepted the position of Regional Superintendent of Marine Search and Rescue, Canadian Coast Guard, at the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria, B.C. He was responsible for developing the successful ocean drift program known as CANSARP, which resulted in many lives at sea being saved. Reg retired from the Coast Guard in 1991 after 40 years of service. After retiring, he volunteered at the University of Victoria, in the ESL Study Centre for 13 years. Over the years, he befriended and mentored many students and kept in touch with them. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife Margaret, daughters Susan Nash (Mark), Mary (Brian) and son Gordon (Jerri-lyn), and grandsons Hayden Gunn and Gabriel Nash, his brother Norman, in Wales, along with family and many friends. In keeping with Reg’s wishes, no service will be held. His life will be quietly celebrated by his family. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the S.P.C.A. Biscuit Fund. Always Remembered, Always Loved. Bravo Zulu! – Published in The Times Colonist on May 4, 2013

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

Reg was never a lighthouse keeper but he was a friend to the lighthouse keeper’s. Please read his story about his life with the lighthouse keepers.

In Memorium – Fred Wood (1915 – 2013)

Fred Wood

Fred Wood

Frederick Henry Wood, June 19, 1915 – February 6, 2013 Fred Wood, long time resident of the Shawnigan Lake area, passed peacefully away at Cowichan District Hospital on February 6. He was 97 years of age and had only been ill a short time. Mr. Wood was born in Ottawa, son of the late Thomas Wood and Annie Winges. He came to Victoria in 1938, and married his “ever lovin” Alice (nee Cole) in 1940. Fred and Alice settled in Shawnigan Lake to raise their sons, where Fred enjoyed active involvement in the community and self employment in the logging industry for many years. In 1970 Fred joined the Canadian Coast Guard as a lighthouse keeper, where he and Alice spent a very special decade living on various light stations on the pacific coast. Fred and Alice retired to Victoria, then finally to Cobble Hill in 2001 to live out their golden years. Throughout his life, Fred was an avid gardener, his favourite crop being his tomato plants, which he grew to perfection. Fred was predeceased by his youngest son Tom in 2007. He is survived by Alice, his beloved wife of 72 years, his son Richard (Reta), daughter-in-law Susan and grandsons Dan, Chris and Steve. No service by request. A small Remembrance will be held at a later date. “Anything happen come.”- Published in Victoria Times-Colonist on March 29, 2013

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


F H Wood obit

F H Wood obit



In Memorium – David Edgington (1943 – 2012)


David Robert Edgington (May 14, 1943 – April 11, 2012) Dave passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at the Victoria Hospice. He was born in England on May 14, 1943 and moved to Canada in 1955.
He worked as a Light Keeper in BC for many years and loved to build and fly RC planes. He leaves behind his loving wife Louise, sons David (Cleo) and Wayne (Misty), grandsons David and Aiden, brothers Marty (Linda) and Rob.
He will be missed by all who new him. He was a dedicated lightkeeper and a great friend.

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

I came across this article while searching for Dave’s obituary. I think it describes him better. He was a dedicated lighthouse keeper, as we all were/are.

Keeper of the Light: Estevan Point, British Columbia (Canada) – Jake Halpern 

Dave Edginton lives at the seas’ edge in a gothic tower that shoots up from the rocks like a petrified geyser. All night long as huge rolls of seawater slam against its base, Dave sits perched on the tower’s peak, peering through the zoom of his binoculars. He’s staring out into what many call the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” a turbulent expanse of sea whose floor is strewn with the carcasses of hundreds of wrecked ships. Tonight, more than anything else, Dave hopes to find a ship in need of help – then he can scurry down the tower’s dizzying spiral staircase, hop in his speedboat, and cruise out into the whitecaps. Even the most intrepid lighthouse keepers of years past would regard such hopes as foolhardy, but for Dave Edginton, this may be the only way to keep his home. 

Life has never been easy for lighthouse keeper on Estevan Point. Almost fifty miles from the nearest road, the station’s lone tower is a monumental embodiment of stand-alone courage. At the turn of the century, when the structure was first built, keepers had to wander for days through the forest to reach civilization. “Think of it,” says Dave Edginton. “No safe boat landing, no roads in, just a trail the work gangs hacked through the forest and maybe the odd mule or something. It just goes to show you how tough the old boys were at the turn of the century.” Often the isolation proved unbearable. Before the advent of radios, one B.C. lighthouse keeper wrote a letter to his supervisors that conveyed this point exactly: “Would you please send someone up here at once as my wife has gone crazy and I want to get her to town at once.” 

Today, Estevan Point is definitely more accessible. While there are still no roads, Dave is able to get in and out by seaplane. Needless to say, Dave and his wife still live in isolation; and somewhat ironically, it’s the loss of this isolation that now constitutes his biggest fear. Like many lighthouse keepers along the coast, Dave is facing replacement by an automated counterpart. Now his best hope for keeping his home is doing the one thing mechanized lighthouses can’t do – save sailors lives. A handful of lighthouse enthusiasts have successfully lobbied to keep stations manned for exactly this reason, and now it’s up to Dave Edington to prove his worth. There are only a handful of manned lighthouses left in all of North America, and Estevan Point is one of them. For two decades Dave has been pulling sailors out of the sea. It’s a dangerous way of life, but Estevan Point is Dave’s home, and now more than ever it’s imperative that he earns it. 

In Memorium – Gerald Watson (1940 – 2012)


Gerald David Watson (December 18, 1940 – April 03, 2012) Jerry started his career as an assistant lighthouse keeper on Sandheads. When Jerry was principal on Green Island, I replaced him there in 1975. He worked many stations on the coast, and finally settled on Point Atkinson, near Vancouver, BC with Don Graham. Jerry became principal keeper and retired from the station when it closed on May 31, 1996. 

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

In Memorium – Evelyn Bruton (1930 – 2011)

A friend of mine passed on to me the obituary notice of Evelyn Bruton, wife of retired Sheringham Point lighthouse keeper Jim Bruton – left, and directly below


BRUTON, Evelyn [August 10, 1930 – September 17, 2011] Passed away on September 17 at Cowichan District Hospital. Born August 10th, 1930 in Ellerslie, Alberta to Michael and Adeline. At the age of 18 Evelyn moved to Vancouver and worked as a stenographer for a local paper. She met Jim Bruton in Vernon and a year later they were married on December 22, 1951, shortly after they moved to Bella Coola where Jim worked in the logging industry. Five years later they moved to lighthouses where Evelyn learned to help with lighthouse work, to run a boat, fishing for extra income for the family. She also became teacher to her four children, instructing them in their schooling for many years. After working on various lighthouses for 30 years Jim and Evelyn retired to enjoy traveling, gardening and visiting with family. After Jim passed away Evelyn moved to Duncan where she became active in the community, especially enjoying the many crib tournaments she participated in and her garden. She will be missed by her family and friends, 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren and 2 more on the way. A memorial service to be held on Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 2 pm at First Memorial Funeral Chapel 4725 Falaise Drive Victoria, BC. In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Evelyn’s name to a charity of your choice. 637755

– Published in the Victoria Times-Colonist on 9/20/2011

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

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Book – Godships by Oliver R. Howard (1927 – 2008)

Godships – Little Ships Carry the Gospel Up the BC Coast by Oliver R. Howard

This is a story of the pioneering efforts of the United Church (UC) Marine Mission on the coast of British Columbia. It involves boats and boating in missionary work up and down the BC coast, visiting Indian villages, lumber camps, mining camps, isolated hermits and lighthouses.



Paperback: 8vo, 239 pages, : ill., maps, bibliography 237-239.
Publisher: United Church Observer (1984)
ISBN-10: 0919920071
ISBN-13: 978-0919920071
Library of Congress: E78.B9 H68 1984
Availability: Used (Out of Print)

Continue reading

Here is a Way to Help Support People and Save Lighthouses

Children's Memorial stones at Edgarton Lighthouse

The idea is very simple, and was given to me by the Edgarton Lighthouse Children’s Memorial article in The Martha’s Vineyard Times. The people built a memorial walkway around the lighthouse and “envisioned a smooth sea of stone around the base of the lighthouse, a terrace paved with small granite blocks engraved with the names of children who had died.” 

Today, the memorial — a simple, elegant plaza around the base of the lighthouse that bears the names of 542 children gone before their time — is a source of comfort to bereaved family members and friends.”

New stones are engraved and placed . . . twice a year; a map and list at the site indicates the position of each child’s stone. An engraved stone may be purchased for $250 US, a cost that hasn’t changed since the memorial began.”


A plaque in the Memorial Wall in Prince Rupert for a friend of mine

Now this idea does not have to be only about children who died. How many of you have been to the city of Prince Rupert, BC, Canada? There they have two large “Memorial Walls” – “There is one wall for those that died at sea and one wall for those that lived by and loved the sea.”

The last time I checked Prince Rupert charges $175 CDN for a brick in their memorial wall and “Since the first order of bricks were received in August 1991 there are now over 950 memorial bricks placed in the walls“. 

It does not matter how much is charged, or for who the memorial is for, but a lighthouse is a great place to construct something like this. It helps pay for support and maintenance of the lighthouse, and as the lighthouse brings comfort to mariners, the memorial stones bring comfort to those who lost a a friend or family member.

In Memorium – Rene Kitson (1944 – 2011)

Rene Kitson (January 22, 1944 – August 06, 2011) was a long time lightkeeper at Bonilla island , McInnes Island as Assistant lightkeeper and he was the Principal lightkeeper at Ivory along with his wife Sherrill, the assistant lightkeeper for 15 years plus, until they retired and moved to Nova Scotia, Canada. He was also the Shop Steward for many years in the northern Prince Rupert district and fought long and hard for the lightkeepers against the de-staffing attempts, and spent many many hours in Ottawa negotiating lightkeeper contracts. He will be missed by all who new him. He was a dedicated lightkeeper and he was a great friend.

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


In Memorium – Steve Bergh (1949 – 2010)

Steve Bergh

Steve Bergh (October 28, 1949 – August 16, 2010) Vancouver Island lightkeeper earned respect for his caring attitude toward others.
Lightkeeper Steve Bergh was a father, fisherman, loyal friend and strong advocate for staffed lighthouses on the West Coast.
Bergh, 60, died Monday in hospital of cancer. He’d been diagnosed less than two weeks before he died.
“He lived life to the fullest and he had no regrets,” said Alice Woods, his wife of 37 years.
When Bergh got the devastating news that he was not going to recover, he looked at friends and family gathered in the hospital room and declared himself a lucky man.
But those who knew Bergh believed they were the lucky ones.
“He was an extremely loyal friend,” said Garth Mirau, a retired commercial fisherman from Nanaimo. “I’ve seen a couple times where Steve went way beyond what you expect from a friend to help people out.”
When a friend’s wife died, Bergh took time away from work to stay with his friend — and kept the house going for the difficult days following the death.
“I think he’d like to be remembered as a human being who was really interested in his neighbours,” Mirau said. “It sounds a bit corny, but he was a really caring guy and was really interested in what people thought. I was always happy after I talked to him.”
Bergh was born in California in 1950 and worked as a commercial fisherman before coming to Canada in 1971 and settling on the B.C. coast. He became a lighthouse keeper in 1973, taking over Estevan Point on the west coast of Vancouver Island. His last post was Chatham Point in Johnstone Strait.
Friend and fisherman Danny Lee knew Bergh for 20 years and says his service to fishermen will be remembered.
“If you had a problem, he always had a part or something you needed at the lighthouse that could keep you fishing,” said Lee. “That’s one thing everybody is going to remember him for. He had a lot of friends in the fishing community.”
Bergh spoke up for lightkeepers as president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Lightkeepers, Local 20232, founding the Canadian Lightkeepers Association this year.
“He was not just a voice for lightkeepers, he was a voice for mariners and aviators of this coast,” said Woods. “He read the letters the mariners and aviators sent to our representatives in Ottawa pleading with them to retain these services.”
In addressing the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans last May, Bergh said: “I’ve pulled people out of the water, I’ve searched for people who’ve fallen overboard. I’ve provided first aid.
“We provide mechanical repairs to vessels and we provide sanctuary for the shipwrecked. I don’t know what kind of computer can do those kinds of things.”
Working as a lightkeeper is the best way to know how important the job is to those who work on the coast, said Woods. Bergh advised mariners and pilots of changing weather conditions and kept a vigilant watch on marine and air traffic.
“He was a strong advocate for manned lighthouses, but I always felt it went way beyond the fact he happened to be a lightkeeper,” Mirau said. “I think it was because he really believed in community.”
Aside from his wife, Bergh is survived by three sons — Trevor, Jacob and Matthew. A celebration of his life was held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010 at the Marine Heritage Centre in Campbell River, BC.

Posted: Sat, 2010-08-21 19:51 in Canadian Lightkeepers Association website1 Source:  Victoria Times-Colonist

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

More on Steve Bergh’s adventurous life in a Globe and Mail obituary here.



1 The Canadian Lightkeepers website does not exist anymore. I received permission to hold the content of the site, and have made the site available here. It is not active. It is just being held for its informative value.

July 29, 2012 – UPDATE: I have now been informed that the Canadian Lightkeepers Association website is again active. Bravo!