Illness at Sisters Island c. 1929

As told to me by – Allen Herbert Smithman (Grandson of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929)

Sisters Island lighthouse c. 1929

Henry Herbert Smithman was a keeper of the lighthouse at Sisters Island (November 30, 1927 – February 27, 1929) until he became sick and was moved to a hospital in Victoria, B.C. where he died. I believe, although unconfirmed, that he died of rheumatic fever because my father, one of the four boys that were living at the light alone with their mother (my grandmother) Elizabeth Kate, contracted the same illness but was nursed back to health at home on the light.

My grandmother told me the story that when my grandfather died the “powers that be” would not allow her to stay on at the lighthouse as women were not strong enough to take care of a lighthouse. The cute part was that she was the one looking after the light for the past weeks as well as taking care of her four sons ranging in age from about three to ten. Continue reading

Schooling on the Sisters Lighthouse c. 1927

This story is not only about schooling! This is the whole family helping out to run the lighthouse while tending to daily living. Life on the lighthouse in the early days was anything but fun! – retlkpr

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– Elizabeth Kate (Stannard) Smithman (Wife of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929)

Sisters Island

Children get their schooling by correspondence courses and lessons are supposed to be sent to Victoria every month if its possible. The parents have to be the teacher. I took on that job for we had to have a plan so all of us could get a certain amount of sleep.

We would work it like this: Bert would go to bed right after supper after he lit the light. I would call him about 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. and he would get up and watch from then ’till the light could be put out at daylight. Continue reading

Sisters Island Lighthouse c. 1927-1928 – Short Stories

 

Sisters Island c. 1927 -

Groceries at Sisters Island c. 1927 

– Elizabeth Kate (Stannard) Smithman (Wife of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929) 

Light keepers have to take a four-month supply of food when they go on as there’s no way of getting anything otherwise. No stores to run to and no neighbours to borrow from, ha ha. The government boat called the lighthouse tender [probably the CCGS Estevan which was built in 1912] calls around every 4 or 5 months. Light keepers order groceries from wholesalers in Victoria and it is delivered to the government wharf and loaded on the tender and they bring it when they are coming up that way. 

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Sister’s Island c. early 1950s

Here is a continuance of the tales of Juanita (Swanson) DuLong. Somewhere around the early 1950s, probably after a year at Fiddle Reef lighthouse the family was moved to Sisters Island. Juanita says:

Sisters Island

Fiddle Reef’s plumbing was a cistern and hand pump. Cold water only. 

Sisters was a little tamer and had a bathroom. When we arrived we found the tub full of coal. The running water was cold only . A reservoir on the wood and coal stove heated enough water for small tasks.

At that time  the lighthouse tenders also burned coal. The smoke could be seen well off.

While on the subject of heat, Dad nearly took a finger off chopping kindling. Mom patched it up, and a doctor later told her he “couldn’t have done it better himself”.

Here there were more and bigger buildings. I actually had a bedroom instead of my little pallet in the angle of the hallway (on Fiddle Reef). I cannot remember much about the day to day station workings, but I do remember the foghorn had a very brassy sound. Continue reading

Kids and Boats on Sisters Island c. 1928

Sisters Island lighthouse 1927

– Ted Smithman (Son of Henry Herbert Smithman who was Senior Keeper at Sisters Island 1927 – 1929)

I was allowed a lot of freedom there [Sisters Island ]. I would find a broad flat chunk of log and sit on it and explore the coast of the whole island. Mum worried but Dad seemed to trust us not to do anything really stupid.  Continue reading