Lighthouse History – 52 (1927-12-13 – 1929-05-19)

The following extracts taken from early Victoria, British Columbia (BC) newspapers are credited to Leona Taylor for her excellent work in indexing the papers. Full information can be found here: ”Index of Historical Victoria Newspapers“, 2007-09.

Please Note: December 20, 2012 – I am continuing this series with Lighthouse History #51 because the newspapers have now been indexed up to 1932. I quit posting at #50 as the extracts only went to 1926. They have now been extended from 1927 to 1932 so I will sift through the data for anything lighhouse!

 Died Dec 11, 1927 at V, Frederic Argyle, 52, born Dec 25, 1871 at Rocky Point lighthouse, where his father, who came here in the Royal Engineers, under Colonel Moody, was lightkeeper for many years, son of Thomas Argyle of Englandl and, and Ellen Tufts, of Halifax, NS. Leaves widow, Mrs E R. Pallbearers: G Ball, H C Helgesen, T F Helgesen, T Foster, Herbert Parker, W Welty. Metchosin burial. [Colonist, 1927-12-13*]


Died Apr 17, 1928 at Victoria, BC, Ellen Josephine Forsyth, 53, wife of James T, lighthousekeeper at Race Rocks. Born in NS, resident of BC 48 years. Leaves husband, daughter, 2 sisters, 2 brothers [Guthro]. Pallbearers: N Bertucci, W H P Trowsdale, W Muir, A E Whittaker, Captain G Evans, J Talbot. [Colonist, 1928-04-19*]


Died Jul 4, 1928 at Saturna Island, BC, James Georgeson, 79, leaves widow, Joan, 4 daughters, 3 sons. Born Oct 20, 1849, he came to Canada from the Shetland Islands in 1887, and was keeper of the East Point lighthouse for 32 years. He was granted the Imperial long service medal. Mayne Island burial. [Colonist, 1928-07-28*]


Rosina, 52 [47], wife of the Daniel O’Brien, Entrance Island lighthousekeeper, drowned today in Entrance Island. She was with her husband in a rowboat, and, on attempting to make a landing, the boat upset, throwing both into the water. O’Brien reached shore safely and ran to the McConvey ranch for help. McConvey, Bennett and Griffith returned with him to the scene and took Mrs O’Brien from the water. Formerly of Victoria, born in County Down, Ireland. Also leaves son, and a sister. Pallbearers: E Burkmar, W Mills, A Morgan, G Morgan, W Fisher, R Trowsdale. [Colonist, 1928-10-13, p. 15]


Mar 29, 8 – Tofino lifeboat brought Mr Halkett from Ucluelet to inspect the lifesaving station and Lennard Island lighthouse… [Colonist, 1929-03-19*]


Died Apr 3, 1929 at Victoria, BC, Henry Herbert Smithman, 39, born in North Carolina, he leaves widow, 4 children, mother, brother, 6 sisters. He served overseas in the Great War with PLI and was lighthousekeeper at Sister’s Rock Light. New Westminster burial. [Colonist, 1929-04-04*]


T Guerney to relieve D McPhee at Lennard Island lighthouse for 3 weeks. Owing to the Tofino customs office being closed, Fred Towler, postmaster, has been appointed to take over minor customs duties. [Colonist, 1929-05-19, p. 8]

Return to Sisters at Christmas c. 1927

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

We were there [Nanaimo, BC ] nearly three weeks and it was two days before Christmas then. I wanted to be back on the lighthouse for Christmas as Bert was there with the other three boys.

I phoned The Government Office to see if any boats were going up that way, but everyone was off on Christmas and New Year’s holidays. I went all around the wharf looking and asking anyone with a boat to please take us up to the lighthouse. No one wanted to go at any price! They knew the old gulf too well and didn’t want to risk it.

I kept going back and asking them to please take a chance and go. At last an older chap said “Alright, we will start out but I don’t think we will make it”. Continue reading

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


– 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

Life on the Lighthouses c. 1950s to 1960s

Nootka light

I receive links to lighthouse stories in the most unbelievable ways. This one arrived in the middle of an email addressed to someone else, which was then passed on to me.

After contacting this first writer I was passed on to another. To keep track of all my contacts I think I will soon need a secretary!

The first writer was Ms. R. Dawson, and her grandparents were on five British Columbia lighthouses for a total of twenty plus years staring in the 1940s. Ms. Dawson describes herself as an activist and I believe she is onboard with the lighthouse keepers against automation as she says: “Lighthouses have been under attack for decades by federal government politicians who have no idea as to their worth and see them as an easy target.”

After contacting Ms. Dawson, I was told that her Aunt Juanita was older and had more stories to tell, and that Aunt Juanita is the sole surviving child of Ms. Dawson’s grandparents/Juanita’s parents. So, Ms. Dawson contacted Aunt Juanita, and I then received an email from Juanita’s husband Roy DuLong. Continue reading