Boat Bluff lighthouse is seen in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine on B.C.’s northern coast in this undated image. As British Columbia begins to reopen and reduce social distancing guidelines, life hasn’t changed much for Spencer Wilson. Wilson is one of the roughly 54 lighthouse keepers working across B.C.’s 27 manned lighthouses, stretching from the southern tip of Vancouver Island up to near the Alaska border. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Spencer Wilson

Unaffected by isolation, B.C. lighthouse keepers continue work

Lighthouse work tends to go to people who are okay with isolation

As British Columbia begins to reopen and reduce social distancing guidelines, life hasn’t changed much for Spencer Wilson.

Wilson is one of the roughly 54 lighthouse keepers working across B.C.’s 27 manned lighthouses, stretching from the southern tip of Vancouver Island up to near the Alaska border.

Living conditions vary for each lighthouse, but keepers work in pairs to ensure an entire day is covered.

“It stops us from having any ‘Shining’ moments,” said Barry Tchir, the regional vice-president of the union representing lighthouse keepers.

Wilson, 48, has been working as a lighthouse keeper since October.

“It takes a certain type of personality to do it,” Wilson said from his station at Boat Bluff, a remote lighthouse on B.C.’s north coast that has been operating since 1906.

Wilson and his partner receive groceries once a month by helicopter and fuel every few years.

Besides that, he can’t recall the last time he interacted face-to-face with another person during his shifts.

“We rarely, rarely see visitors,” Wilson said. “There’s nobody who comes around and hangs out.”

He started working as a lighthouse keeper after spending four years in Hong Kong working for a collectible toy company.

Moving from a bustling city-state of 7.4 million to a spit of land inhabited by him and one other person requires an adjustment period, Wilson said.

But his life abroad was punctuated by bouts of loneliness.

“Even though I was living in such a huge city with so many different people, I was still alone. I didn’t have any friends. I did my work, I stayed home,” Wilson said.

“I was already isolated in a city of millions.”

Instead of traffic and the hum of city life, Wilson said he gets to enjoy listening to whales and sea lions outside his window.

He empathizes with B.C. residents who have struggled with isolation during the pandemic, but notes his isolation is very different than those in more urban locations.

“If you really need to go to the grocery store, you can go to the grocery store. It’s not true isolation,” Wilson said.

He recommends those struggling with isolation to schedule their days to help them maintain a sense of normalcy.

READ MORE: Long weekend traditions missed as Canadians abide by COVID measures

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

British ColumbiaCoronavirusLighthouse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

When crisis hits: How West Shore RCMP have dealt with the pandemic

More front-line officers on road in mobile offices

Sidney staff recommends additional outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes

Report before council also leaves open possibility of closing a portion of Beacon Avenue

French fries to juicy tomatoes, rock art brings joy to walkers in Victoria

James Bay yard filled with painted rocks delights all ages

‘Depression-era’ unemployment figures could hit Greater Victoria

South Island Prosperity Project launches new dashboard to measure effects of COVID-19

Langford bartender hosts singalong livestream for seniors

Live Senior Singalong takes place daily at 1 p.m. on Facebook

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read