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Your Own Lighthouse Library

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These books were recommended in Caroline Woodward's new memoir, Light Years: Memoir of A Modern Lighthouse Keeper, under the title, "Suggestions for Your Own Lighthouse Library"
Light Years

Light Years

Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper
edition:Hardcover

In 2007, Caroline Woodward was itching for a change. With an established career in book-selling and promotion, four books of her own and having raised a son with her husband, Jeff, she yearned for adventure and to re-ignite her passion for writing. Jeff was tired of piecing together low-paying part-time jobs and, with Caroline's encouragement, applied for a position as a relief lightkeeper on a remote North Pacific island. They endured lonely months of living apart, but the way of life rejuvenat …

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The Lighthouse Cookbook

The Lighthouse Cookbook

edition:Paperback

Bestselling cookbook author Anita Stewart presents a delicious selection of recipes from the keepers of British Columbia's lighthouses. From the traditional Clam Chowder and Apple Pie, to such gourmet creations as Mussels in Wild Mushrooms and Jalapeno Jelly, the dishes contradict the myth of rough living and near starvation on the isolated light stations. They are, however, uniformly simple; when food supplies are only available occasionally by helicopter, lighthouse chefs must be inventive abo …

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Guiding Lights

Guiding Lights

BC's Lighthouses and Their Keepers
photographs by Chris Jaksa
by Lynn Tanod
edition:Hardcover
tagged :

Canada's west coast has one of the most extensive networks of staffed lighthouses remaining anywhere in the world and the authors visit all the most significant sites, ranging from the Carmanah Point light that watches over the hikers of the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Islands station -"Little Alcatraz" - which is just a tower rooted on a rock 50 kilometres west of Prince Rupert, to the popular harbour lights of Vancouver and Victoria.

Jam-packed with magnificent full-colour photographs and fi …

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We Keep A Light

We Keep A Light

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

In We Keep A Light, Evelyn M. Richardson describes how she and her husband bought tiny Bon Portage Island and built a happy life there for themselves and their three children. On an isolated lighthouse station off the southern tip of Nova Scotia, the Richardsons shared the responsibilities and pleasures of island living, from carrying water and collecting firewood to making preserves and studying at home. The close-knit family didn't mind their isolation, and found delight in the variety and bea …

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Keepers of the Light

Keepers of the Light

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged :

"MY WIFE HAS GONE CRAZY - one of the isolated upcoast lightkeepers in this astonishing book writes to his Victoria supervisor. "PLEASE SEND SOMEONE UP HERE AT ONCE."
It could be an incident from any one of many poignant stories which unfold as Don Graham, himself keeper of Vancouver's famous Point Atkinson Light, breaks the lighthouse fraternity's 150-year tradition of silence and exposes life as it really has been lived in and around those prim white-and-red light stations which have made Briti …

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Lighthouse Chronicles

Lighthouse Chronicles

Twenty Years on the BC Lights
edition:Paperback
tagged :

Flo Anderson and her husband Trevor worked as lightkeepers for 20 years, at Lennard Island and then at Barrett Rock, McInnis Island, Green Island and Race Rocks. In this extraordinary memoir Anderson speaks candidly about the challenges of learning to live on an exposed, isolated island where precipitous cliffs and gale-force winds were everday hazards. She also describes the profound joys of living with family in a wild and natural place.

Imagine yourself living in complete isolation. Imagine li …

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Excerpt

Green Island was the northernmost manned lightstation in Canada, at about the same latitude as the north end of James Bay in eastern Canada where it joins Hudson's Bay, or Indian Harbour in Labrador. Dundas Island to the south protects Green Island from the seas in Hecate Strait, but the lightstation is fully exposed to the eighty-mile long Portland Canal to the north, which has a glacier at the head. When low pressure Pacific systems suck interior high-pressure air through the narrow canal-which is most of the time-the result is hurricane,force winds battering Green Island. After we left, an anemograph was installed and winds of 114 knots were recorded. Inside the house, we could tell the strength of wind by the different creaks, whistles and roars of the building. The noise in the house resulting from these winds was so loud that we had to shout, and we developed a system of body language and eye messages to communicate.

At low tide, the island is about a thousand feet long and nine hundred feet wide, six times the size of a football field. At extreme high tide, the area is halved. At this latitude the tides range up to twentyfour feet, about the height of a two-storey building. Green Island was within rowing distance, two miles, of Dundas Island. We could see the southern point of Alaska nine miles away, and the tips of trees and the lighthouse tower at Lucy Island, fifteen miles southeast.

There were no trees on this mass of ice, but in spring a few patches of grass among the rocks broke the monotonous landscape. In spring we discovered, at low tide, a bar of seashells joining the main island with a small rock island. The crystal clear blue-green water lapping the pristine white beach brought memories of hot tropical - minus the hot - coasts. Later, at high tide, we saw killer whales slide across this white shell bar, now many feet below the water's surface.

When we arrived, there was no junior keeper. He had left some time previously (we assumed he quit when all the facilities in his house froze and there was no fuel) and there was no replacement. Garry was asked to fill in until the competitions for a junior keeper were held and processed. It gave us a break to have Garry with us. Among other things, he stood watch during the night. As the helicopter was down for repairs, Stan did not get home for Christmas.

A new junior keeper eventually arrived and Garry was taken to another lighthouse for a relief job. This new keeper was a widower and a pleasant man. We gratefully settled into the routine of work and schoolwork.

The girls could not go outside during the winter except on rare occasions, so as a diversion they started teaching tricks to the dog who had been left behind (we did not shoot him!) - a beautiful, gentle black spaniel named Nugget. They were so delighted to lavish attention on this dog and he thrived. It took a long, long time to teach him any tricks, though. I would hear Beth in the basement saying over and over again, "Roll. Roll." I teased her, saying, "He is just one of those dogs that can't learn." They paid no attention to me and kept at it day in and day out. Eventually, he rolled! After that he caught on quickly and learned many tricks. Later we found out he had had an ear infection, so perhaps his hearing was gone and it took longer to learn by gestures. We found out why he had been banished to a lightstation. He was the runt of a litter of a dog owned by one of the helicopter pilots and he had been pampered. Then, when left alone, he howled and kept on howling until he had company. This was not acceptable behaviour in a city!

Beth was fifteen years old now, and was confined to the house with no peers, no TV, no radio. But she had always been a great reader and now entertained herself by reading the several hundred romance novels left behind in the basement. She devoured every last one of them. I don't think she has read one since! Unfortunately there was no wonderful travelling library for Green Island.

Our life was quite settled, but I was still nervous about the high winds of winter and the massive swells and waves so rough no ship could approach. The station radio transmitter receiver was located in our basement instead of an engine room or radio shack, because when the wind blew it was impossible to get out to the other buildings. One time I tried to go out the basement door to get Trev in the engine room, ten feet away. As I stepped outside I was immediately slammed back against our house by the savage wind and pinned there, helpless, until a brief lull let me open the basement door and whip inside our house again. I tried not to think of our precarious position if there was an emergency. The pilots had assured me that they could hover to pick someone up if the wind dropped to 50 knots. That was some consolation, but I still felt isolated from help and was sleeping lightly.

The Heathkit marine radio receiver Trev had built at Lennard Island was in our kitchen and always on the AM frequency used by the lightstations. One night after we had gone to bed I heard Prince Rupert calling any lightstation to answer. Trev was in a very deep sleep and they kept on calling, so I got up, went to the basement, lifted the microphone, pressed the button and said, "Prince Rupert radio, this is Green Island, were you calling?"

They replied, "Oh yes, Green Island, we have a tidal wave warning. It is approaching your station and will be there - NOW!"

My mind conjured up an immediate image of a wall of water rushing to our shore. I pressed the button again and cried, "What do we do?"

"Get the lightkeepers up!"

Cursing under my breath, I raced upstairs calling Trev. I rushed to the girls' bedroom to rouse them, dig out all the warm clothes I could lay my hands on, and help them put on layer after layer - all the time thinking about that cold, cold, cold water rushing toward us. Trev was at the door by this time asking me what I thought were damn fool questions instead of doing something, anything! Of course, he was thinking. We got together a mattress, food and blankets and helped the children and the dog up the metal ladders through a trapdoor to the top of the forty-foot concrete tower. We thought this was the sturdiest, highest and safest place on the island. We left them there. Then we told the junior keeper, who was up on shift in his house, and invited him to come with Trev and me to our house to listen for further news on the marine radio and broadcast radio.

The tidal wave had been generated by a severe earthquake in Alaska. We didn't know it at the time, but we were not in danger. The tidal wave came through Dixon Entrance which broadens in our area and then narrows again toward Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert Harbour suffered severe damage as did places south, including Port Alberni on the west coast of Vancouver Island. But we did not. Trev surveyed our island at daylight and could not see that any logs or debris were higher than usual. But believe me, if I could have gotten off that island that night I doubt I would ever have returned.

Eventually the lulls between storms grew longer and we could sometimes even get outside. The tender came with a welcome load of cut wood. The ton of coal had not lasted very long with the wind-chill of that winter!

As the ice melted, we looked around the island for new possibilities. I, the eternal optimist, decided to plant a garden in the spring. Although the soil was shallow and rocky, fertilizer had worked before and maybe such things as turnips, Russian kale and cabbage would have some success. That turned out to be true. The turnips were winners, some eight inches across and so many we gave sacks away to the pilots. Cabbages did well also and the carrots and Russian kale added variety to our diet. Even my little flower garden produced a few blooms.

The weather was getting better by the day and with it the unique spring and summer features of our island. Green Island was a rookery for seagulls, guillemots and oystercatchers. It was our first opportunity to observe the cycles of returning, mating, hatching of young and migrating in the fall. We counted more than five hundred seagull nests. Adrienne was overjoyed when the young hatched; she had fifteen hundred babies to check every day. The adult birds were not happy to see her and would dive at her, sometimes hitting her head with a breast or deadly aimed poop. That didn't stop her. She just donned her dad's hard hat and a raincoat and cheerfully continued her inspection and petting.

This quiet, gentle and loving little girl, seven years old, amused herself without peer playmates, often without siblings and with her parents taken up with the battle for basic survival. She never came to us asking, "What can I do now?" Instead she created absorbing activities for herself.

Once, she asked if she could take two gull chicks for pets. She was a real mother hen, up at dawn to collect bullheads from the tidal pools, wheeling the chicks around in her doll buggy. Nugget, the dog, dressed in Adrienne's clothes, got a few rides too. I don't remember seeing many dolls in that buggy!

She named the chicks Squirt and Cheer. Like children after the Pied Piper, they followed her everywhere, growing and moving through all the stages of development. When they learned to fly they would swoop by outside her bedroom window at dawn, squawking for food. She would get up and capture delectable morsels for them!

One day she was so engrossed in her activities that she didn't notice the tide coming in, which it did at four feet an hour. Luckily Trev happened to be outside and noticed that she had been cut off by the rising water. He could still wade out and carry her to high ground. From then on she was much more cautious. Her unusual childhood teemed with practical lessons like this, with nature and self-directed discovery the teachers.

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Lights of the Inside Passage

Lights of the Inside Passage

A History of British Columbia's Lighthouses and their Keepers
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged :

The lighthouses of the inside passage, many of them built to guide prospectors on their way to the Klondike, stretch from sheltered stations on the Gulf Islands to stark, storm-swept Triple Island and Langara, south of Alaska. Feel the fury of destructive North Pacific gales and tidal waves that ravage the coast; ponder the unsolved murder of Addenbrooke's keeper, and the mysterious disappearances on Egg Island; witness the insanity caused by isolation -and enjoy the contentment and peace that m …

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Excerpt

Dreadful as it was, the West Coast of Vancouver Island still remained British Columbia's safest shipping freeway well into the late 1890s. The alternative was the Inside Passage, that long corkscrew course setting the Island apart from the mainland. It was perilous enough in daylight, with tides pulsing and ripping through compressed channels. After sunset, or in fog, it was near madness to venture by echo and lead-line up the Strait of Georgia and into the maze of islands clogging Johnstone Strait. As one captain recalled, "Any black dark nights they just had to tie up because there's no lights anywhere . . . you just had no hope. You couldn't see." Besides, shipping lanes intersected in the Passage. Vessels travelling back and forth from Vancouver and the Fraser to Nanaimo, Chemainus, and Victoria cut across the bows of others bound north and south. It was a busy intersection with no traffic lights.

In the mid 1880s the Department of Marine and Fisheries began setting up lights for traffic crossing the Straits. Once out of Victoria, captains steered past Fiddle Reef and around Trial Island, then headed for Discovery Island light at the entrance to Haro Strait. Three courses lay before them: Boundary Pass, marked by the East Point light on Saturna Island's southern tip; Active Pass, via Portlock Point and Active Pass lights; or Porlier Pass, separating Valdez and Galiano Islands. Within a decade, though, most traffic was heading north from Vancouver in a motley convoy through the Inside Passage towards the Klondike.

As late as 1898 Point Atkinson was still the furthest light north. In May 1904 the Victoria Colonist reported, "An agitation has been started looking to induce the Dominion government to construct additional lighthouses on this coast." Polite petitions, and not-so-veiled political threats were pouring into the office of Colonel W.P. Anderson, chairman of the Canadian Lighthouse Board, and chief engineer of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The lighthouse board sat in marathon sessions to keep pace with the paper. Echoing the sentiment of every Chamber of Commerce from Victoria to Port Alice, the Vancouver News-Advertiser declared, "We have a strong claim on the Dominion government for such expenditure as this," since federal coffers were already swollen with levies from British Columbians "in the shape of customs and excise dues, fishery licences and other items." The Colonist warned British Columbia's MPs to "see to this matter before the present session . . . closed."

Colonel Anderson weathered the siege, and his draftsmen worked overtime, cranking out plans. In a frenzy of construction they put up seven lights in ten years along the Island's eastern flank. When the construction crews left, three hundred miles of sheltered waterway were rendered safe, from the Ballenas Islands off Parksville, to Pine Island at the north end of Gordon Channel, near the top of Vancouver Island. Beacons on Ballenas Island and Sisters Rocks warned ships away from perilous rocks and foul ground. All the others, from Merry Island to Pine, gave crucial bearings for steering through the fast-running channels and passes. Ships went from one light and fog signal to the next, all the way north to the heaving Hecate Straits. There were still six hundred miles to go for the gold.

Active Pass
Every B.C. ferry on its run from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay threads through the boiling tide of Active Pass between Mayne and Galiano Islands, slowing speed and blasting its whistle to warn unwary smaller craft around the bend of its approach. The sight of the tower and buildings of Active Pass light seldom fails to draw passengers out on deck, many for their first look at a "real" lighthouse.
Though its title certainly befits one of the busiest shipping routes crossing Georgia Strait, the Pass was actually named for the American steamer Active, one of the earliest steamships to pass through while engaged, with HMS Plumper, in surveying the international boundary in 1857. In the course of that survey the Plumper's officers apprehended an American whiskey trader named Macaulay, who unknowingly played a key role in the expansion of the lighthouse network. After he was transferred to the Active, Macaulay flashed a large quantity of gold dust and nuggets, taken in trade from Indians up the Fraser River. When the Active berthed at San Francisco, Macaulay started talking and the Fraser gold rush was on.
Sailing ships had previously shunned Active Pass because of its strong rip tides and its narrow clearance of less than a third of a mile. In July 1860 the man-of-war Termagant, en route to Nanaimo to take on coal and to impress restive Indians with white supremacy, grazed Laura Point and carried away some trees with her foreyard. Twelve years later the bark Zephyr, bound for San Francisco with a hold full of sandstone, raked out her bottom on Georgina Shoals in a snow squall and went down with her captain and a deckhand. In 1898 the B.C. Coast Pilot warned that strong tides combined with slack winds to render the Pass "unsafe for sailing-vessels, unless indeed small coasters." For moderate-sized steamships "commanding a speed of not less than 8 knots, it is a useful pass," the Pilot allowed, "but it is advisable for large ships and those deeply laden to pass through at, or near slack water."

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Cooks Afloat!

Cooks Afloat!

Gourmet Cooking on the Move
edition:Paperback
tagged : quick & easy

This exquisite cookbook instructs the epicure-boater on how to make magnificent gourmet meals using only a limited galley pantry and plenty of fresh food from the ocean: from spicy Haw Mog Hoy (mouthwatering spicy steamed mussels with a touch of Thailand) and Coquilles St. Jacques (a delectable creamy scallop dish), to a Sesame Seed Crusted Halibut with Sun-dried Cranberry Salsa (need we say more?) and Sea Asparagus Salad (mussels and samphire in a sweet balsamic vinaigrette).

Cooks Afloat! cover …

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