Foghorns Were Cool Places to Sleep! c. 1980s

– Roger Mogg (Assistant keeper on McInnes Island 1983 – 1987) 

Airchime horns - photo Chris Mills

Back in the early 1980’s I was offered the job as a assistant lightkeeper at McInnes Island.  I was told at the time that this offer was only for couples, not for singles (this turned out to be false information). I had just broken up with my long term girlfriend so assumed I would have to decline the offer. 

At the last moment I happened to meet a girl named Liz Robertson, and she seemed like the outdoors kind of person that one would have to be to enjoy life at a lightstation. After hardly enough time to know her first we agreed to go to start life as lightkeepers at one of the more remote stations in British Columbia. 

Coast Guard took us there in one of their lighthouse tenders (ships) that also doubled as an icebreaker. After the ship refueled each and every station on the way up from Victoria , we finally arrived at McInnes Island, one of the most scenic places on the planet earth. 

We were real busy the first day as you can imagine. Unpacking all of our belongings, opening up house windows that had been sealed for years with paint, trying to learn weather transmissions, and generaly getting to know how the station operated.

Looks like it just landed

One of Liz’s prized possesions was this cat of hers that was as black as charcoal. John Coldwell the senior keeper was giving me the grand tour of the station and we were in the radio room teaching me how to test the foghorns. Now these foghorms were massive things designed to be heard at sea for several miles in heavy weather (banks of grey painted Airchime horns facing south into the sun and open sea – ed.). 

At this time Liz came running up in a big panic and said that she had just witnessed something black shoot out of one of the foghorns at high speed. We went to investigate and found her cat maybe fifty meters away shaking like something out of a bad cartoon. The cat must have climbed inside one of the foghorns because they were a warm place to take a nap. We never saw the cat go within eyesite of those foghorns again. 

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