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Addenbroke Island, BC  Lighthouse accessible by ferry.   

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Addenbroke Island Lighthouse

Vessels sailing north along the Inside Passage from the northern end of Vancouver Island pass through a corner of Queen Charlotte Sound before entering the more protected Fitzhugh Sound, which is bounded by such islands as Calvert Island, Hecate Island, and Hunter Island on the west and the mainland on the east. Roughly sixteen kilometres above the entrance to the sound lies a group of islands on the eastern shore that reduces the width of the sound to just three kilometres. The westernmost of these islands is Addenbroke Island, named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792.

Original Addenbroke Island Lighthouse with Fog Bell
Photograph courtesy Library and Archives Canada
The Department of Marine decided to erect a lighthouse on the western side of Addenbroke Island to mark the narrowest point in Fitzhugh Sound. Work on the structure, a square, two-storey dwelling with an octagonal lantern room perched atop its hipped roof, was begun in 1913 by day labour under the direction of D. McLean. In addition to the lighthouse, the station was also originally equipped with a boathouse, an oil shed, and a mechanical fog bell. The bell was situated 150 feet south of the lighthouse on a platform near the water and had a sixteen-foot-high, wooden-frame tower for the tolling apparatus. Mariners were informed that a fixed white fourth-order light would be exhibited at Addenbroke Island starting on April 15, 1914, and that the fog bell would be struck a single stroke every five seconds during thick weather.

The first keeper of the lighthouse was William A. Guthro, who moved up to Addenbroke with his wife Edith from Nanaimo. Keeper Guthro served until 1921, except for a four-and-a-half-month span in 1918, when he was on sick leave and Hugh Anderson was placed in charge of the station. When the Guthros left in 1921, Robert Smith and his wife Edith moved over to Addenbroke from Cape St. James Lighthouse. Keeper Smith fell ill in March 1922 and passed away in a Vancouver hospital on May 9, 1922.

Edith Smith valiantly elected to take over as keeper of Addenbroke Lighthouse, where her closest neighbors were ten kilometres away in Safety Cove on Calvert Island. “Time did drag sometimes,” she later admitted, but “every now and then, fishing boats would call in for a visit. I used to fish often…there were many things to take my mind off the solitude and loneliness.” Edith must have had an occasional visitor at the lighthouse, as on October 20, 1924, she married Walter Brydon, who had been working as a mariner engineer in Bella Bella, seventy-five kilometres by boat from Addenbroke Island.

It appears that Brydon took on the responsibility of keeper after the marriage since his name appears in the Department of Marine records from 1924 until 1928, when the Brydons swapped stations with Ernest Maynard, who had been serving for two years at Lucy Island near Prince Rupert.

The decision to leave Lucy Island proved to be a tragic one for Maynard. On the morning of August 16, 1928, Calvert Thorpe neared Addenbroke Island, and when he noticed the light was still burning, he decided to check on the keeper. Thorpe found Keeper Maynard splayed on the ground near the boathouse with half of his head blown away.

Although suicide was considered as a possible cause, authorities who examined the crime scene concluded that Keeper Maynard had been awakened by a commotion at the station’s dock and had been shot when he went to investigate. Maynard was wearing unlaced shoes over his bare feet, and the keys to the lighthouse were found on the boardwalk next to his body. The only clues found nearby were a white button that didn’t match any of the keeper’s clothing and a few drops of red paint found in the shed on the wharf.

Station circa 1980 showing skeletal light tower
Corporal Arthur Stone was assigned to the case, and over the next several days, he interviewed all the residents along Fitzhugh Sound. Near Safety Cove, Stone found Manuel Hannah camped on a beach. Hannah admitted he knew Keeper Maynard and had visited the lighthouse eleven days before the murder, but it was a missing white button on Hannah’s shirt that alerted Stone to his possible involvement.

The B.C. Provincial Policed checked into Hannah’s past at Stone’s request and learned that the drifter had spent time behind bars on three different occasions for stealing horses, beating a man, and committing robbery. Stone paid another visit to Safety Cove and this time noted Hannah’s freshly painted skiff and his collection of paints that just happened to match some used by the Marine Department.

Hannah rightly began to suspect that he had become the primary suspect in the investigation, and when Stone returned for another visit, he found the following note inside Hannah’s tent:

                                       Safety Cove Calvert Island B.C.
                                       Sept. 18th 1928
     B.C. Police
To Whom It may Concern :-
To be coled A lier I will not take no more by officer which I was the 16th or any one elce for I have took it for the last time So you keep looking for the lighthouse Murder, for Im not the man. But I know you wold get me because Im alone Without no Friends. Do not look for me for I Will be in A better land By the tim you get this you Black Mailling Roberrs. This is one man Who is not gilty off Murder.
I Set my Hand for last time
Mannuel Hannah
Mannuel Hannah was never seen again in Fitzhugh Sound.

An unwanted visitor of another sort paid a visit to Addenbroke Island in April 2006, when Dennis Rose was serving there. Keeper Rose was busy building crates in preparation for his imminent move, and every time he would start the Skill saw or use a drill, a curious Grizzly bear would be drawn out of the woods. Keeper Rose decided to try out the pepper spray the Coast Guard had given him the previous year, but when he failed to take into account the wind direction, the only ones affected by the blast were himself and his dog. After the bear had been hanging around the station for ten days, Keeper Rose had just about decided he might have to put him down when Fish and Wildlife said that they would relocate him to an area where there were lots of females and no males. The bear must have caught wind of the plan as he disappeared just before the Fish and Wildlife showed up and never bothered the station again.

A new single dwelling was built on Addenbroke Island in 1961 by McGinnis Construction, and in 1968 a light atop a skeletal tower replaced the lantern room atop the old dwelling. The white round tower from which the light at Addenbroke Island is displayed today was erected in 1998.

Head Keepers: William A. Guthro (1914 – 1921), J.W. Baker (1921), Robert Joseph Smith (1921 - 1922), Edith Matilda Smith (1922 – 1924) Walter Frank Brydon (1924 – 1928), Ernest Maynard (1928), F. Reuter (1928 – 1929), Thomas Moran (1929), J. Milton, Jr. (1929 – 1930), Andrew Abraham Johnston (1930 – 1932), William Meryl Wallace (1932 – 1936), Arnt Bendikesn (at least 1953), Henry Bergen (1962 – 1964), Tauno Ray Salo (1969 – 1974), Barry Shaw (1979 – 1996), Richard Wood (1996), Paul Hollyoak (1996 – 1997), Dennis Rose (1997 – 2006), Roger Williamson (2006), Dennis Rose (2006 – at least 2016).

References

  1. Annual Report of the Department of Marine, various years.
  2. Lights of the Inside Passage, Donald Graham, 1986.
  3. “Bear! Attack!,” lighthousememories.ca

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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, Canadian Coast Guard, used by permission.
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