Quitting Smoking – Not on a Lighthouse!

I was a smoker when I arrived on my first lighthouse at Pulteney Point in December 1969. I was twenty-two (22) years old, married, with no children when I arrived.

My wife, Karen, and I had never had to order supplies for a month. Our first order was loaded with chocolate bars and stuff we figured we would not be able to do without. Tobacco, as I rolled my own, was not a problem – two cans of Player’s tobacco should do for a month. 

When you live in the city with stores right at hand, you never consider how much you use in a month. It is used until it runs out and you buy more. Well, the tobacco supply was greatly underestimated. I ran out.

Next day I asked the senior lightkeeper, Walt Tansky, if I could borrow the station boat and run into the town of Sointula about 8 kms away. Walt said he had a better idea and invited me into his house. He headed for the basement and came back with a can of Player’s tobacco. IT was c-o-l-d!

Walt explained that he had quit smoking years ago and that a personal motive to quit was to keep a can of tobacco on hand in the freezer. It became a cushion against his addiction.

“But”, I said, “you quit years ago. This tobacco is that old?”

“No”, he siad, “It has been replaced many times.”

“Replaced?”

“Yes”, everytime a keeper runs out, he may borrow this can and replace it at the first available chance. It has been replaced many times – by fishermen, pilots, keepers, and campers.” Continue reading

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

With credit to Robbie Burns for the title quote I will tell a tale of woe that  I heard  many years ago about the Green Island lightkeepers and how they had run out of tobacco (a common occurence on the lighthouses) and the keepers had pooled their money to charter a float plane from Prince Rupert, 25 miles (15.5 kms) away, to bring some more cigarettes and tobacco out to the lighthouse. 

It should be easy, eh? - photo Ray McKenzie

The small float plane arrived with the cargo on board and circled the island a few times, tipping his wings as he spotted the keepers standing outside waving. But alas, he radioed the keepers that because of the outflow northeast winds from Portland Canal he could not land on the ocean as requested, but, if the keepers wanted to take the risk, he could could fly over the island and drop the package from the cockpit window.  Continue reading