Lighthouse History 04 – Cape Beale (1872-05-29 to 1909-01-23)

Lighthouse History 04 – Cape Beale (1872-05-29 to 1909-01-23)

Cape Beale

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.

As I was collecting this information from the newspaper archive website, I noticed that many articles were in consecutive order and applied to Cape Beale, so I collected them all together here. It is a bit long, but interesting, as it describes the building of a lighthouse from the ground up as they say. Take note of the dates at the end of each article. it surely was not done overnight. More extensive information can be obtained from the actual scanned copies of the newspapers themselves on the above website.


Lighthouse recommended at Cape Beale, will provide a first-class light and powerful fog whistle. [Colonist, 1872-05-29]


Steamer Sir James Douglas, with Mr Pearse, will sail for Cape Beale in a few days. Mr Pearse will select a site for the lighthouse to be erected at that point. [Colonist, 1872-10-22]


Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas will sail for Cape Beale with Mr Pearse to select a lighthouse site. Cape Beale is a bluff about 125′ in height with a bold rocky shore against which the breakers incessantly beat. Access to the Cape can only be had by going outside the Straits and running into the mouth of Bamfield Creek where a snug little harbor exists. From Bamfield Creek a road or trail about 2 miles in length to the Cape will have to be made. [Colonist, 1872-10-26]

Steamer Sir James Douglas arrived yesterday, making 118 miles in a little over 11 hours. She brings back Messrs Pearse and Ralph, Civil Engineer, and Messrs Jackson, Johnston, Clark and son. They experienced heavy weather in going down; but a fair wind in returning. The object of the expedition was to select site for a lighthouse at Cape Beale. In this they were unsuccessful, the surf being heavier than usual at this season of the year. Mr Pearse tried to effect his purpose further inland and effected a landing at Bamfield Creek . Here, however, nature again set up an impenetrable barrier in the form of 4 miles of heavy brush and timber, through which the party would have had to cut their way to the Cape; as it was they succeeded in blazing a trail about 2/3 of the way. Messrs Jackson, Johnston, Clark and son made their trip from Qualicum to Alberni in 2 days and found the trail very fair. Mr Clark, who is a farmer, is going to return and work the Sproat farm on shares. [Colonist, 1872-11-05]


The construction of Cape Beale Lighthouse will be immediately proceed with. Ex-Mayor Lewis (than whom there is none more competent) has been appointed to superintend the work. [Colonist, 1873-04-25]


Mr Hayward, of the firm of Hayward & Jenkinson, contractors for the work, will leave for Cape Beale in Schooner Surprise today, with men and material. The first duty will be to clear a trail from Bamfield Creek to the point on which the lighthouse will be erected. [Colonist, 1873-07-10]


Schooner Surprise, Captain Spring, returned from Cape Beale yesterday morning, having left there on Jul 16, after landing Messrs Hayward and Lewis, the lighthouse working party, lumber, supplies and tools. A letter Mr Hayward states that Schooner arrived at the Cape on Sun morning last and was run into the narrow passage between the islands. The lumber was rafted ashore and packed by Indians to the foot of the proposed trail to the summit. By going round the sidehill a trail at a very easy grade can be obtained… The site chosen for the lighthouse is excellent and the light will be seen many miles. Water has been discovered at the top of the rock – a living spring – so situated that it may be raised by tackle to the site. Sand for building purposes is found about 1/4 mile from the foot of the trail on the Island. The Island is covered with very thick underbrush, which makes walking very disagreeable. A house and store room have been built, and the party are as comfortable as it is possible for them to be made. There were heavy falls of rain, but on Tues there was fine weather. [Colonist, 1873-07-19]


Schooner Surprise came back from Cape Beale last evening and reports work on the lighthouse progressing favorably. We understand Sir James Douglas will go to Cape Beale on Fri. [Colonist, 1873-08-03]


Schooner Surprise arrived last evening. Councillor Hayward, who came by her, reports the frame of the lighthouse (Cape Beale) up and a trail cut for a distance of 3/4 of a mile. [Colonist, 1873-08-20]


Schooner Alert, Captain Christensen, from Cape Beale with a cargo of oil, and 10 passengers arrived. The lighthouse is nearly finished, and the trail to Bamfield Creek is made. [Colonist, 1873-09-07]


Cleared, Schooner Alert, Spring, Barclay Sound. Alert sailed for Cape Beale yesterday morning with Mr Pearse on board. Mr Pearse expects that the lighthouse will be finished and ready to hand over. [Colonist, 1873-09-23]


Schooner Alert, Captain Christiansen, arrived yesterday morning from Cape Beale with Mr Pearse and 2 or 3 other passengers. The lighthouse was accepted by the Engineer, but the trail requires a little more cutting to render it entirely practicable. Ex-Mayor Lewis, with Messrs Jenkinson, Clarke and Jack Frost, remain behind to put the trail in order. The run down was rough, but coming back the weather was pleasant. [Colonist, 1873-10-02]


Schooner Surprise will go down to Cape Beale to bring up ex-Mayor Lewis, R Jenkinson, and the rest of the lighthouse party. [Colonist, 1873-10-12]


Arrived, Schooner Surprise, Christensen, Barclay Sound. The Cape Beale lighthouse is finished and only awaits the lantern and the appointment of lightkeepers to warn mariners of their danger. [Colonist, 1873-10-28]


Captain Cooper has chartered Schooner Kate to visit Cape Beale, where he will inspect the lighthouse and lantern prior to exhibition of the light Jul 1, and will sail today. It is said to be impossible to procure a lightkeeper and assistant for Cape Beale at the miserable allowance provided by statute. [Colonist, 1874-06-10]


Robert Westmorland has accepted the appointment of keeper of this lighthouse [Cape Beale]. The appointment is an excellent one. [Colonist, 1874-10-24]


Mr Hughes, the lightkeeper at Cape Beale, writes under date of Nov 7 to inform us of a very severe storm of wind, rain and hail from the Southeast, accompanied by thunder and lightning, which broke over the Cape on the night previous to writing at 10:30 pm. Trees were uprooted and the surf dashed high against the rock on which the lighthouse stands… During the months of Jul, Aug, Sep and Oct 52 vessels approached within 10 miles of the Cape. [Colonist, 1874-11-18]


Steamer Sir James Douglas, Captain Cooper, arrived from Cape Beale light on Fri evening. She experienced very rough weather, but succeeded in provisioning the lighthouse. [Colonist, 1875-05-09]


The lightkeeper at Cape Beale writes that when the mate of the lost ship Orpheus reached the lighthouse he professed not to know that the light at Cape Flattery was a fixed one, and for some time insisted that it was a flash. He said that he mistook the Cape Beale light (which is a flash) for Flattery light, and that was why Orpheus went on. [Colonist, 1875-12-25]

Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas will leave today for Cape Beale lighthouse with Captain Cooper, Department of Marine & Fisheries, on board on official duty. [Colonist, 1876-06-14]


Thomas Laughton, who arrived by Schooner Alert from Barclay Sound yesterday morning, says that Elliott, Purdy and Holme, the Government prospectors on the West Coast, left Spring’s station on Barclay Sound Mar 21, about 11am, with the intention of visiting Cape Beale lighthouse to examine a prairie reported to be back of Cape Beale and he supposes that they could not find the entrance to the small cove on which the lighthouselanding is situated and got among the reefs outside Cape Beale where the sea broke into the canoe and capsized her. The wind was from the westward at the time, and a coat, some flour, a tin case with chart, a box containing their cooking utensils, etc, were picked up at Clu-tas, about a mile to leeward of the light, by some Indians. The Indians reported to Mr Laughton that the man left at the lighthouse during the absence of Mr Westmoresland at Victoria, says that on the afternoon of Apr 2, he heard shouts, and on looking out could see no one. The relics of the expedition will be brought to Victoria by Captain Warren in Schooner Anna Beck. [Colonist, 1877-04-21]

Supreme Court – Captain James Cooper vs Robert Westmoreland. Westmoreland called Captain Cooper a thief, and said he had falsified some vouchers with regard to painting Cape Beale lighthouse… paid a man named John McLeod for the work (dark complexioned, about 5′ 9″)… Captain Spring… Lionel Holmes, asst keeper… [Colonist, 1878-12-17]


Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas returned to port yesterday afternoon from Cape Beale where she has been awaiting the completion of certain repairs to the lighthouse. [Colonist, 1879-05-23]


Editor Colonist: – My object in writing in re Cape Beale light is not to reply to the remarks of the keeper, Mr E Cox, but to state for the information of the public that on the night of May 11, 1878, Schooner Favorite was on the beach at Dodge’s Cove, Barclay Sound, a short 3 miles from the lighthouse at Cape Beale. During the whole of that night Captain McKay, his mate and crew and Andrew Laing have, as I know, officially reported that the light was stationary and did not revolve from the time of lighting until daylight next morning. It was subsequently proved on examination before witnesses that the machinery worked well and that it was in no respect out of order. The statement of Mr Cox that the agent told him to allow the light to remain stationary no one will believe, as it is impossible that any man with experience could instruct a lightkeeper to allow a revolving light to remain stationary, particularly when by so doing disaster might be the consequence, to mariners mistaking Beale light for that of Cape Flattery. The public may draw their own inferences. A Bunster. [Colonist, 1879-07-24]


Cape Beale lighthouse is in a sad and neglected condition. The machinery is so much out of order that the keeper frequently has to turn the light by hand all night in order to make the necessary number of revolutions, else it might be mistaken for a stationary light on the American shore by an incoming vessel, and disaster ensue. 
[Colonist, 1883-01-28]


Steamer Hope, which arrived from Alberni last evening, reports having seen a large ship ashore 2 miles on this side of Cape Beale. Hope was, owing to the rough weather, unable to near the wreck. The lighthouse keeper said he could discern the letters ‘G E’ on the stern, the high sea preventing his boarding the doomed vessel, which lies almost submerged by the waves. No further particulars have come to hand, and the fate of the crew is as yet unknown. The supposition, however, is that they took to the boats, but it is believed no small boat could live in such a sea. It is quite probable that the vessel has gone to pieces ere this. [Colonist, 1886-12-18]


Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas, Captain Glahome, returned from Cape Beale. A fine trip was reported and all was quiet at the Cape. Sealing Schooner Mountain Chief came in just before ‘Douglas’ left and reported that the weather had been so rough that the crew were only able to work 3 days. [Colonist, 1888-04-21]

Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas returned from Cape Beale having completed a supply trip to the lighthouses. Alex Begg, the Crofter commissioner, was a passenger up from West Coast, where he reports everything quiet. His trip extended as far as Clayoquot and Hesquoit, at neither of which places any late news of sealers had been received. At Ahousat the Indians have secured the wreckage and part of cargo of lumber of lost bark Nellie May, and are building a village therewith. No further facts in regard to the loss of the ship have ever been brought to light. [Colonist, 1890-04-27]


Died accidentally near Cape Beale light, Stephen Ash, deckhand of Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas. Aged 30, came here from Newfoundland 1 year ago, leaves wife, 2 children. Ship was on an official visit to Race Rocks, Bonilla Point and Carmanah lights. She met with very rough wx, the ship anchored off Banfield Creek in order that Mr Anderson might cross by the trail to Cape Beale. He was accompanied by Mr Owen, mate, Mr Grant, Engineer, and 2 deckhands, Henry Georgeson and Stephen Ash… Ash set out on the trail to the lighthouse, but did not arrive… [his body was found the next day at the foot of an 80′ cliff, underwater]. Pallbearers: Edward Prye, James Davis, Charles Barnes, Henry Georgeson, William Heater, Thomas Steele. F 004 W 20 [Colonist, 1891-05-01, p. 3]


The little black Sloop Edith, owned and sailed by a fisherman named Stephens, is in trouble with the customs authorities, having been placed under detention yesterday, charged with certain violations of the law, which will be fully investigated before Collector Milne at 10am this morning. Edith, it is claimed, has been a frequent violator of the law, visiting and trading at the West Coast stations without any of the usual formalities being observed. Information is also in the hands of the collector of the operations of another Victoria Sloop whose trips to Barclay Sound and Cape Beale are supposed to have been for the purpose of discharging whiskey cargoes… 
Dominion Government Steamer Sir James Douglas, Captain Walbran, returned from a 10 days’ cruise in Barclay Sound, yesterday afternoon. During her stay in the Sound the new town of Alberni was visited and the buoys, marking the channel across the bar of the Somass River renewed. Dominion Government Steamer ‘Douglas’, from Alberni, proceeded to Castle Islet [Tofino Inlet], and there built a new beacon, 50′ high. This beacon, in conjunction with the one on Round Islet, marks the fairway of the western channel into the Sound. Both beacons were whitewashed. While lying at anchor off Castle Islet a sea otter skin was brought on board for sale, but as the price asked was $100, no purchaser was found. On the return passage Cape  Beale and Carmanah lighthouses were visited. Between Cape Beale and Carmanah a small Sloop was seen under the land; upon being examined site turned out to be a fishing boat from Victoria, British Columbia, out since Aug 5. Her crew reported having had a very poor catch. The weather, the first few days of the trip, was wet and stormy, with fog, but the latter part was very fine… 
[Colonist, 1892-08-20]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra returned from West Coast Sun. After leaving Victoria a working party was landed at Carmanah lighthouse to build a water tank for the service of the fog alarm; after finishing that, the party was transferred to Cape Beale stn, where other necessary work was carried out during the week. On Quadra’s cruise along the coast the following sealing Schooners were visited: Dora Siewerd and Katharine, Eucluelt; Sapphire and Triumph, Clayoquot; Annie C Moore, Walter L Rich, Oscar & Hattie, Ahouset; Ainoko and Libbie, Hesquiot. Captain Walbran, during the cruise, located and examined the rocks in Barclay Sound not marked on the Admiralty chart. [Colonist, 1895-06-25]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra leaves for the West Coast today on a trip of inspection to the lighthouses between here and Cape Beale.  [Colonist, 1896-04-07]

Boards, bearing many valuable directions for shipwrecked mariners have been placed by the Department of Marine & Fisheries in conspicuous locations along the South West Coast of Vancouver Island between Cape Beale and Port San Juan. The places are chosen as the most likely to be visited by distressed seamen and the object of the notices is to prevent as far as possible any recurrence of the terrible hardships such as the crew of Janet Cowan suffered last winter through lack of knowledge of the coast. Directions as to the nearest Indian village or lighthouse where assistance can be procured are given on the boards, which also contain advice to seamen, cautioning them against abandoning a wreck should one occur in the locality, for past experience has taught the lesson that to quit a known ship even though there be but a limited amount of comfort on board, for an unknown shore, is hazardous in the extreme and generally accompanied by loss of life. [Colonist, 1896-08-04]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra returned yesterday from the West Coast, whither she had been to take supplies to Carmanah and Cape Beale lighthouses. While Quadra did not have any lively experiences on the trip, she brought back the story of a decidedly lively race, in which Mrs Patterson, Wife of the lighthouse keeper at Cape Beale, and a real live panther figured. Mrs Patterson, the other day, was down by the waterside, when she saw a panther jump out of the bush and make for her. Mrs Patterson ran for the lighthouse at a lively rate, the panther in close pursuit. Luckily Mrs Patterson had a couple of dogs with her, and as the panther got close up one of the dogs tackled him, giving the lady a chance to escape to the house. [Colonist, 1897-11-10]


This morning Dominion Government Steamer Quadra leaves for the West Coast with supplies for Cape Beale lighthouse. While away, Captain Walbran will enquire into the complaints of illegal fishing that have been made, it being reported that some of the spawning grounds are being injured by Indians damming up streams. [Colonist, 1897-11-18]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra leaves for Cape Beale and West Coast lighthousestations tomorrow. [Colonist, 1898-06-07]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra returned last evening from the West Coast, where she had taken supplies to the lighthouses. At Cape Beale material was landed for the construction of a new tramway leading up to the light from the beach. Captain Walbran reports the weather mild but foggy on the coast. [Colonist, 1898-06-12]

In the big storm which raged at the entrance to the Straits on Oct 27, the assistant lighthouse keeper at Cape Flattery and a companion, who were out in an open boat, lost their lives. Their bodies and boat have been picked up on the Vancouver Island coast. On Thurs last Mr Daykin, lightkeeper at Carmanah, wired to the United States Consul that he had in his possession a boat with the words “Flattery Light” painted on it. It had been found by the Indians right-side up and with a number of articles in it. Although slightly damaged, the boat did not appear to have been through much, and the supposition was that it had simply broken from its moorings. This theory was dissipated on Sun, when a wire was received from Neah Bay to the effect that the assistant lightkeeper at Flattery and a companion had left the light in the boat on Oct 27, and had not been heard from since. About the same time a 2nd wire reached Superintendent Hussey, of the provincial police, from Carmanah, stating that the body of a man, without a stitch of clothing on it, had been found on the beach and that the officers of the United States revenue cutter Columbine, calling there in search of the missing boat, had recognized the body a that of the assistant lightkeeper. Yesterday news came from Cape Beale of the finding of the body of the other unfortunate man. When found the head was missing from the body.
The storm of Oct 27 was the worst of the season, even in this city the wind howling along at a 44-mile gait. Vessels which were in the Straits reported that the blow was a terrific one, so there is little wonder that the 2 men in the open boat met with disaster. They were probably washed overboard by the mountainous waves and carried over to the Vancouver Island shores by the wind and sea. The names of the men could not be obtained. [Colonist, 1900-11-06]


Dominion Government Steamer Quadra returned from the West Coast yesterday afternoon where she has been with supplies for the lighthouse at Cape Beale. The wreck of the mysterious Schooner, which went ashore last Dec off this light, and is believed to have been Reliance of San Francisco, has now broken up and not a vestige is left. [Colonist, 1902-07-20]


The fund for Mrs Thomas Paterson, Wife of the Cape Beale lighthouse keeper, is still at Seattle. The amount subscribed at first was something more than $586, but only $500 could be collected… [Colonist, 1907-01-05]


Thomas Paterson, who for many years has had charge of the Cape Beale lighthouse, and who, with his wife, Mrs Minnie Paterson, has done so much in aid of shipwrecked mariners and to save life, has tendered his resignation as lightkeeper. Mrs Paterson’s trip over the sodden trail to send Quadra to save Captain Allison and 9 men from the wrecked Coloma and the work of her husband and herself, when Valencia went ashore won a great deal of praise. [Colonist, 1908-07-21]


Carnegie hero fund comm, acting on the report of Danvers Osborne of Banfield cable stn, who was commissioned to investigate and report, has refused to grant a medal to Mrs Minnie A Paterson, Wife of the former lightkeeper at Cape Beale, who was the heroine of the Coloma wreck and of the Valencia disaster. 
Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes: Extreme disappointment will be caused in Pacific coast shipping circles by the decision of Carnegie Hero Fund in refusing a medal to Mrs Minnie A Patterson, whose brave act saved the lives of the crew of bark Coloma, which was wrecked off Vancouver Island in Dec, 1906. 
Marine men familiar with the details of this case, believe that no more heroic act was ever performed on this coast. Mrs Paterson’s deed was exploited far and wide at the time, and it was believed that the Carnegie commission would recognize her… Mrs Paterson’s husband at the time of the wreck was keeper of lighthouse at Cape Beale. Coloma was driven ashore in a terrific storm, Dec 7, 1906, and the unfortunate crew took to the rigging. Seeing their desperate plight Mrs Paterson bravely made her way over a rough road for miles, through a blinding storm to give the alarm. Word reached Dominion Government Steamer Quadra which rescued the 10 men in the nick of time. But for Mrs Paterson’s heroic act every man would have been lost, as the bark soon pounded to pieces. 
Mrs Paterson received a gold medal from the United States government. [Colonist, 1908-10-31]


Captain J Gaudin, Agent of Marine and fisheries has received a report concerning the loss of the Banfield motor lifeboat, the wreck of which has been picked up by the Steamer Leebro and will be brought to Victoria for survey and repairs. It seems that the Child of Mr/Mrs Thompson of the Cape Beale lighthouse was ill and in need of medical attention and the mother and child were taken to Ucluelet where the little one died. The lifeboat was not hauled out as usual, having returned after nightfall. A watch was left and when the light was missed the watchman failed to report it. A strong Southeast wind was blowing and nothing could be done until it moderated. Then, the morning after the lifeboat broke adrift, Captain Gillan was taken in the motor yacht Winona of Victoria which happened to be at Banfield Creek to search for the lifeboat which was found on Robbers I. The engines were taken out and the boat floated with the greater part of her starboard side torn out. When the weather abates sufficiently to get the Clo-oose lifeboat and take it to Banfield the wrecked craft will be brought her by Leebro. [Colonist, 1909-01-23]

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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