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

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Herd of deer camp out in Yennadon front yard

Four bucks and two does rested under the shrubs of a Maple Ridge home Friday

Pitt Meadows technology to help grow leafy greens in Okanagan

Cubic Farms sold 16 of its machines to a company in Armstrong, B.C.

Maple Ridge mom wants justice on two-year anniversary of daughter’s death

Megan Kinnee, 19, died July 13, 2018 after motorcycle crash in Abbotsford

Maple Ridge neighbourhood rallies together for Saturday garage sale

Event aimed to bring Albion residents together – but not too close – while the financially strapped

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Most Read