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!