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.

Removal of Foghorns on the BC Coast c. 2003

 The article below was written in 2003 by Sherrill Kitson, wife of the lightkeeper Rene Kitson, and herself a qualified lightkeeper at the time.

This story will illustrate why lightkeepers, and not electronic sensors, are better weather observers. We can smell the fog, and many a mariner will back us up on that statement.

Now, all we can do is smell the fog, and hope that nobody gets hurt because there are no more foghorns.

(The text below is in a picture. If it is too hard too read, hold down the CTRL key (STRG in Deutsch) and rotate the wheel on your mouse forward or back to increase the photo size – it works on most computers and operating systems.)



The story is reprinted here with permission of Fisheries and Oceans Canada from their publication Shorelines 2003 (which does not appear to be available online – if anyone knows a link, please let me know).

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.

Joyce Howard Obituary (1922 – 2011)

Hello friend! – Play On Mom!

David and Kathleen Howard and family are saddened to announce the passing of long time Port Alberni resident, Joyce M. Howard, on July 30th. 2011

Born in 1922, in Woodstock, Ontario, Joyce was the first daughter of Rose and Charles Dunn. Raised in Woodstock, Joyce boldly moved west in 1952 to take up the post of Secretary to Dr. William S. Taylor at Union College in Vancouver.

It was during her time at Union College that Joyce met Oliver R. Howard. After Oliver’s graduation and ordination as a United Church Minister, the couple wed on Oct 2, 1954 and moved to Alert Bay, B.C. to take up marine ministry. They have 2 children, David and Kathleen.

During their 54 years of marriage Joyce and Oliver served the United Church of Canada in Ocean Falls, Campbell River, Prince Rupert, Toronto, Victoria and Oliver’s final pastoral call, St. Andrew’s United Church, in Port Alberni. Joyce was active as a leader in Explorers, in the United Church Women and in Presbyterial.

When Oliver retired in 1992, the couple remained in the valley as active supporters of Alberni region organizations.

Always a loving and supportive daughter, sister, wife, mother, and caring friend Joyce was pre-deceased by her husband Oliver, parents, and brother Bill. She is survived by her sister, Marie Dunn in Saskatoon; her son, David, daughter-in-law, Deborah (Vancouver); granddaughter, Laura (Montreal); daughter, Kathleen and a close extended family.

The family is grateful for the care and compassion provided by Dr. Kerry DeWitt; Joyce had many friends among the staff and residents of Heritage Place and Echo Village; her church family at Alberni Valley United. Without their caring assistance Joyce would not have left so peacefully to go to her next great piano concert venue. You will know her as she passes with her cheerful greeting of “Hello Friend!”

A Celebration of Life for Joyce Howard will be held on August 5th at 1:00pm at Alberni Valley United Church, 3747 Church Street, Port Alberni.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either:

Alberni Valley United Church
3747 Church Street
Port Alberni BC
V9Y 1T5
Alberni-Clayoquot Continuing Care Society
4200 10th Ave
Port Alberni, BC
V9Y 4X3

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)