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!

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 – 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)


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In Memorium – William F. Treston (1881 – 1969)

Bill Treston (1881 – March 08, 1969) was a relief keeper on many lightstations in the Prince Rupert District of British Columbia. Bill was a very interesting man. He worked as a relief keeper on some of the northern lighthouses during the late fifties/early sixties. In his earlier days he had been a prospector and trapper and loved to tell stories about his adventures and misadventures. He was a hard working man of the very old school – a true gentleman. In the early sixties he was relief keeper on Langara for a period of time. I used to take water samples for the Pacific Biological Station every day. To do so I walked to the “landing” -a half hour walk from the station. “Old Bill” loved to accompany me, singing songs from the olden days, reciting poetry, and telling me stories. The trouble was, it was always an exact replay of the day before. The same stories over and over and over. Still, he was such a dear sweet old man you couldn’t tell him that. I thought that at the very least it taught me patience! One day without a word to anyone, Old Bill disappeared. We searched and found no trace of him, finally calling in the Coast Guard. We were terribly worried, picturing him having had a heart attack, or laying in the forest somewhere in the cold and wet, shivering. The second day after he went missing, he was picked up walking on a remote beach on the west coast of the island, totally bewildered at all the concern for him. He had hiked for hours through salal and rain forest to the opposite end of the island where there was a fish camp/floating grocery store, and spent a cold wet night outdoors to bring me a box of chocolates! I remember him asking my mom every day, “Ma’am, are you prosperous today?” I didn’t know what that meant until mom explained that he was asking if she was pregnant! One of our favorite sayings came from Old Bill. We lived in a four-plex with Old Bill living right next door to us. Every day without fail we would hear this horrific crash and know that he had just gone out of the house. He was partly deaf, (and had only one eye), so he would slam the door hard whenever he went out, so much so that the door would pop back open again. So whenever one of us children would shut the door too hard, invariably mom or dad would call after us “Shut the door, Bill!” Old Bill was an extremely hardy old man and never complained about working in wind, rain or whatever the weather. And every day without fail he would invite us to join him in his “morning constitutional” which consisted of a dip in the icy ocean, regardless of the season. He would strip naked and let the waves wash over him. He swore it was excellent for one’s health! Old Bill was the last of a dying breed, one of the early pioneers of our province. He had done it all, and under the most adverse of conditions, with no complaint, and the manners of a perfect gentleman. He was a gentle soul that spoke no ill of anyone. He was an outstanding role model, one that we were fortunate to have in our lives for too short a period of time. – Jeannie Nielsen (one of many who remembers “Old Bill”)

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In Memorium – Alexander McLeod (1891 – 1940)

Alexander (Alex) McLeod (Abt 1891- July 15, 1940) took over the duties at Brockton Point station in 1936. One of his responsibilities was the firing of the 9 o’clock gun. On July 15, 1940 he was heading across the narrows in the harbour entrance underneath Lions Gate Bridge. He was in his dinghy with his dog Pal to service the Calamity Point beacon when he fell overboard and drowned a short distance from shore. He left behind his wife Velma and 18 year old son Gordon. – Carol (McLeod) Jeffrey (granddaughter of Alexander McLeod) 

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