In Memorium – Rev. Oliver Howard (1927 – 2008)

Oliver R. Howard was born in 1927, and ordained by the British Columbia Conference of the United Church in 1953. His first station was with the Prince Rupert Presbytery in Alert Bay. He subsequently served the Marine Mission in Ocean Falls, the Campbell River Pastoral Charge, the Friendship House in Prince Rupert and the Board of Home Missions in Toronto before taking over as Minister of the Thomas Crosby V (TCV) for the Central Mainland Marine Mission On the TCV he wrote “The Uttermost parts of the sea”, subsequently published under the title “Godships” (Toronto: United Church of Canada, 1984). In 1985 Tony Wade directed a documentary on the United Church mission ship travelling the west coast of Canada to Alaska and back – The Voyage of the Thomas Crosby V. 1985 This two week journey included spectacular scenery viewed by very few people and is available for viewing on Youtube. This film is followed by three more segments from the United Church of Canada: The Voyage of Thomas Crosby V (part 1) The Voyage of Thomas Crosby V (part 2) The Voyage of Thomas Crosby V (part 3) This was the captain/missionary Oliver Howard’s last voyage. The Thomas Crosby mission ship is no longer in operation. Oliver Howard died October 16, 2008. Obituary Oliver R. Howard (1927 – 2008) from A Steady Hand At The Helm Joyce, David, and Kathleen Howard are saddened to announce the passing of long time Port Alberni resident The Reverend Oliver R. Howard on October 16th, 2008. Born in 1927, in Vilna, Alberta, Oliver was the first son of Florence and Austin Howard. The family moved to Creston, British Columbia and later Lulu Island (Richmond) to provide better educational opportunities for their children. Oliver’s ministry with the United Church of Canada spanned over 50 years. In 1953, realizing his parents dream, Oliver graduated from Union College, UBC. He was ordained as a United Church Minister and accepted an invitation from The Board Of Home Missions to be Skipper and Missionary on the Robert C. Scott based out of Alert Bay, BC. On October 2, 1954, Oliver married Joyce M. Dunn (Woodstock, Ontario). They have two children, David and Kathleen. Oliver then qualified as a Master Mariner in 1959. As Captain and Missionary, he served aboard the Thomas Crosby IV anchoring at native communities, light houses, and float camps from Alert Bay to Prince Rupert. In 1960 he came ashore to take a pastoral charge at Campbell River United Church. In 1964 the family moved north to Prince Rupert where Oliver served in church administration before moving to the national office in 1966. In Toronto, Oliver worked with the Board of Home Missions and supervised student internships. Returning to B.C. in 1975, he served as Master of the Thomas Crosby V (TCV). In 1984, his book, `Godships’, an historical and personal account of the church’s 100 years of seagoing missions on the coast was published. Oliver served in a team ministry at Metropolitan United in Victoria in 1985 then in 1987, his final pastoral call was to St. Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni. After retiring in 1992, he served as President of BC Conference; oversaw pensions and made visitations to retired ministers; sat on the board of Moorecroft Camp; served as Minister Emeritus of Alberni Valley United Church; a Founder of the Alberni Valley Community Foundation and remained an active supporter of Alberni region organizations. Always a loving and supportive son, brother, husband, father, mentor and friend he was predeceased by his parents, sister Joyce and brother Allan. He is survived by his sister, Gay Harrigan (Mike) in Nanaimo; his daughter-in-law, Deborah (Vancouver); granddaughter, Laura (Ghana); and a close extended family. The family is grateful for the care provided by Dr. Alan Fraser, as well as West Coast General Hospital, Royal Jubilee & Ty Watson House. Without their caring assistance we could not have ushered Oliver so peacefully onto his next port of call. A Celebration of Life for The Rev. Oliver R. Howard was held on October 26th at 2:00pm at Alberni Valley United Church, 3747 Church Street, Port Alberni. In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations be made to either: Alberni Valley United Church, 3747 Church Street, Port Alberni BC V9Y 1T5 or Alberni Valley Hospice Society, 2649 2nd Ave., Port Alberni, BC V9Y 1Z8

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

The Rev. Howard was never a lighthouse keeper but he was a friend to the lighthouse keeper’s – a very good friend.

In Memorium – Stanley Westhaver (1942 – 2005)

Stanley (Stan) Westhaver (January 30, 1942 – December 06, 2005) was a great person, a practical joker, the life of a party and a very good friend. As someone said, “He would give you the shirt off his back.” Stan died as he would have wished – at a party among friends. – John Coldwell (one of many friends who misses his bullshit every day.)

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


In Memorium – Robert Eric Akerstrom (1936 – 2004)

Rotten Robert

Bob Akerstrom (October 02, 1936 – September 28, 2004 in Prince Rupert, BC) was known by all as “Rotten Robert”. It was an affectionate term for one of the best relief keepers we had in the Northern District of Prince Rupert.
Bob was always welcomed on every lighthstation because of his work and his sense of humour.
The wives often said that he left the house neater and cleaner than before he came.
Bob worked relief on Triple island, Green Island, Langara Point, McInnes Island, Addenbroke Island, Egg Island, and many other lighthouses on the North Coast.
He was a good friend and is missed by all.

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

Bob’s plaque on the Prince Rupert seaside Memorial Wall

In Memorium – William Bertrand Bemister (1944 – 1999)

                                                                                                                                                                                    Bill Bemister (1944 – 1999) was an Assistant Keeper on Triple Island lighthouse. He was a bit “rough around the edges” but a great guy. Bill died in a fire on his boat in Port Edward, British Columbia (near the town of Prince Rupert, BC) – Chris Mills (one of many friends who worked with Bill)


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


In Memorium – Albert Bartle (1915 – 1996)


Albert Bartle

Albert Bartle (October 11, 1915 in Winnipeg, Manitoba – July 5, 1996 in Victoria, BC) – Relief Keeper.
More on his life here
-from Rodger Konkle (son-in-Law of Albert Bartle)

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


As Albert has not too many words written about him, perhaps these short memories will add some colour to his life. – retlkpr

Alaska King Crab 

Cooked Alaska King Crab – photo David B. Fankhauser website

While on Pine Island, Al [Bartle] and Ralph [Emerich] put down a crab trap off the highline and put chicken scraps in the trap. The next morning they pulled up the trap and had an Alaska King Crab. Great eating! They did not know that the King crabs came this far south. 

– Jean (Bartle) Konkle (Daughter of Albert Bartle, Relief Keeper) 


Eagles Bathing 

Eagles bathing – photo Jim Robertson – Wildlife Photography website

While on Scarlett Point, Vivian Hunt, a First Nations person that lived on the island about ½ mile down from the lighthouse took us for a hike up the mountain on a trail that he had hand cut with a machete, to a small lake. While there we witnessed over 50 Eagles having a bath in the fresh water after feeding in salt water. That island [Scarlett] is a gorgeous site. Al [Bartle] caught a 20 lb. red snapper right off the rocks in front of the lighthouse. 

– Jean (Bartle) Konkle (Daughter of Albert Bartle, Relief Keeper on Scarlett Point c. 1973) 

Fish for Dinner 

Sandheads lighthouse – now automated

Dad (Albert Bartle), when he was on Sandheads lighthouse (no women allowed), which has no room to do anything except walk around the boardwalk around the lighthouse, would put down a bucket on a rope and passing fish boats would fill the bucket with salmon, cod, crabs, shrimp, etc. He always said that it was much easier than going fishing.  – Jean (Bartle) Konkle (Daughter of Albert Bartle, Relief Keeper at Sandheads c. 1970s)

In Memorium – Ed Hartt (1920 – 1995)

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ed Hartt (January 23, 1920 – March 16, 1995) was head keeper at Lawyer Island, Triple Island and Langara Point during his tenure as a lighthouse keeper. – Jeannie (Hartt) Nielsen (daughter of Ed Hartt)                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



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


Memorial Brick for Ed & Eileen Hartt – Mariners Wall, Prince Rupert, BC


In Memorium – Bill Exley (1920 – 1994)

Captain William (Bill) Mills Exley (January 08, 1920, Vancouver, BC –  April 24,1994, Victoria, BC) was a friend to all the lighthouse keepers he met. Bill joined the Coast Guard as a mess boy on the Estevan in 1939 and retired 45 years later as District Area Supervisor (DAS), Victoria. He was a tough boss but was respected by all who learned from him. See his biography below. Bill’s ashes were buried at sea.

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

Bill was Second Mate on the old “smokey joe” CGS Estevan under that legendary master mariner, Capt Harry Ormiston (1889-1971), when I joined the (then) Victoria District Marine Agency as the (then) Superintendent of Lights in June 1956, a post I held until Oct 1959. His seamanship, acquired and polished during his many years of sailing with Harry, was absolutely superb, a true credit to his mentor. Among my happy, solid memories of Bill was his skillful handling of the Estevan’s sturdy work boats then used to take supplies ashore at lightstations, often in heavy seas. (No choppers in those days). Not once in my time did he ever misjudge the swells, damage a work boat, or dump its cargo in the water. Nor did he ever cause me to be dunked when I used to jump from the bow onto wet slippery seaweed-covered rocks when doing an annual lighthouse inspection – or when scrambling back on board afterwards.

Captain Exley, as he was when I last met him (his guest for lunch on the CGS Sir James Douglas while visiting Victoria in 1964), was a man I greatly admired and respected – as he was indeed by the lightkeepers who knew him and the ships’ crewmen who served with him. It was my privilege to have known him, enjoyed his friendship and sailed several thousands of West Coast nautical miles with him. – John Bathurst


Bill’s first love might have been the sea..,but as superintendant of Lights he soon became an avid helicopter passenger and particularly liked low flying.

As pilots we had a wonderful rapport with him and consequently we made every effort to comply with his numerous requests and I for one appreciated the fact that he never pressured us to fly when we considered for instance that the weather precluded flying, but he expected us to give it a try if conditions were marginal, and that was fair enough.

One example was when he “desperately” wanted to interview and eventually fire a troublesome assistant lighthouse keeper at Pine Island lighthouse. As we both approached Pine the usual summertime band of fog was really heavy (Pine was calling it 1/4 mile visibility), below our limits, but we headed out hover taxying you might say, riding the swells, the sea being my only reference. Our only concern being that we might bump into a ship!

Anyway we made it, picked up the assistant and headed back through the same soup, saw a hole in the fog climbed like an elevator and rode several miles back to Port Hardy on top of the fogbank.

On arrival there Bill Exley turned to me and said “Let’s never do that again!” It was pretty hairy all right. – Ivor Roberts (aka Ivor the Driver)


– thanks to Karen Waugh for the bio

I always considered Bill Exley a Leader! – retlkpr

In Memorium – Robert H. W. Collins (1914 – 1993)

Bob Collins (February 06, 1914 -September 29th, 1993) was Principal Keeper on Kains Island (Quatsino). He ran a HAM radio rig with the call sign VE7AOI. Bob was known far and wide as the “King of Kains”. He was a very reserved man and at times very hard to get along with, but he had a heart of gold when you got to know him as I did over many home-brew beers! I learned everything about the operation and maintenance of highlines from him. This knowledge really paid off in later years. – John Coldwell (not a friend, but a student of Bob)

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


In Memorium – Doug Bond (1953 – 1993)

Doug Bond (1953 – 1993) was a “friend of the lightkeepers” and worked as an Electrical Technician at the Prince Rupert, British Columbia Coast Guard Base. He was a great inventor and loved exploring all the aspects of his work field. His enthusiasm taught me to master computers. He left behind in Prince Rupert many friends who remember him well. – John Coldwell (one of many who remembers Doug)

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


In Memorium – Ed Harris (1925 – 1987)

Ed Harris

Edgar (Ed) Dennis Harris Born November 12th 1925 at Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Islands, BC. A second generation Salt Spring Island Hawaiian. Ed married Margaret (Greta) Carlton in Victoria on October 19th, 1946. he had 4 daughters: Lonie Belsey, Lynne Donaldson, Lorna Carrigan and Lorie Palmer and stepdaughter Linda Varcoe.
Ed lived in Victoria, BC and started work with the Canadian Coast Guard in the early 1950’s. In April of 1958 Ed was accepted into the Scholarship Program for Ships Officer training. Based out of Victoria agency, Ed served on the CGM Berens , CGS Estevan, CGS Sir James Douglas and other CCG vessels too numerous to mention.
In 1960 Ed successful competed for the position of Superintendent of Lights with the Department of Transport, Prince Rupert Agency. Edgar and Greta, along with 3 girls moved to Prince Rupert arriving by Coast Guard ship in October 1960. Shortly after moving to Prince Rupert the Harris’s were blessed with their 4th daughter Lorie.
Upon arriving in his new position in Prince Rupert, Ed worked under District Marine Agent, Capt. Ormsby. As Superintendent of Lights he worked very closely with the lightkeepers all along the BC coast – north to Langara and south to the tip of Vancouver Island. He took his position as Superintendent of Lights very seriously as evidence by his personal commitment to visit all the lighthouses in his jurisdiction. He always made a special effort during the holiday season to visit the families on the stations along with Jolly Old Saint Nick.
It was a special treat for me to be able to accompany him from time to time on his visits to the stations and witness the joy he brought to the families that tended the lightstations.
After a number of years as Superintendent of Lights his duties were expanded to include Inland Aids to Navigation which required him to travel to such places as Hay River, Carcross, Whitehorse and Fort St. James. Eventually Ed was promoted to the position of District Marine Agent in the Prince Rupert Agency and served in that position until retiring in 1984.
Edgar and Greta moved to their hobby farm in Kitwanga, BC. In July of 1987.
Dad became ill and he was diagnosed with primary brain cancer and passed away on October 08, 1987. He is survived by his wife Greta, 4 daughters, 1 stepdaughter and 14 grandchildren. Many of Ed’s family followed in his footsteps working for the Canadian Coast Guard. Today there are two son-in-laws and one grandson working. Edgar’s oldest daughter worked for CCG in the 1980s and a grandson and nephew in the 1990s. Kevin Carrigan (son-in-law) is the Superintendent Marine Navigation Services, Victoria CCG; Leslie Palmer (son-in-law) is an officer on the Rescue Vessel with Prince Rupert CCG and Nathan Rochon (grandson) is a Carpenter at the CCG Base Prince Rupert. This text was created for this website by Lonie (Harris) Belsey  June 28, 2012.

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

Below is a poem written by Captain Robert (Bob) Mellis in memory of Ed Harris. Ed was well-liked by all personnel on the BC coast – a man well-missed.

(click for larger size)