I work with a lovely lady named Athena, who grew up in a lighthouse. Her grandfather was a lighthouse keeper, her father was a lighthouse keeper, and she and her husband were lighthouse keepers. This all took place on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino, and later on near Victoria. They lived in a cottage beside the tower, although granddad had lived in the actual lighthouse itself.
I find this really interesting. How often do you meet someone who grew up in a lighthouse? How often do you even see a lighthouse?
There’s work to be done at these places with the definitive ocean view. Along with the obvious beacon thing, the lawns on the property have to be cut and trimmed often because it’s government land and needs to taken care of in fine fashion. A lighthouse keeper also keeps in contact with the coast guard regarding the weather and sea conditions. Athena’s father and grandfather had to radio in the weather situation every two hours around the clock, so the nightly sleeps must have sucked.
She and her husband only had to do this every twelve hours, though, which to me is being spoiled beyond belief.
She told me her father also had to sometimes take pumps and fuel and come to the rescue of boats and people in peril out on the seas. I wouldn’t be good at this. I get nervous in the bathtub. And they only got one television channel – CBC – which meant they probably saw every episode of Front Page Challenge.
Wages nowadays are in the mid-thirty thousand range, with the cottage being rent-free, which I think is pretty good if you want this kind of lifestyle. How often would a lighthouse keeper shake, rattle, and roll when the weather report has to be radioed in every two hours?
Athena and her husband live down by the ferry now, about 30 km. outside of Powell River, with only dial-up internet in their area, which drives them crazy. But I think they like the peace and quiet and the ocean nearby. There might be just as many bears and deer as there are people in her neighborhood. She’s also an excellent co-worker and shows much more enthusiasm than I do. I think her only complaint is the dial-up internet.
Maybe that’s what lighthouses do for you.
And this, regarding lighthouse keepers, from Blue Bayou –