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

ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre garden opening June 16

Virtual art exhibits and gift shop to come

A LOOK BACK: maritime history of Alberni Inlet

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with Alberni Valley Museum

EDITORIAL: It’s time for Canada to admit to its own racism

Make no mistake, racism exists in Canada.

UPDATE: Highway 4 reopens after police incident near Port Alberni

Highway between Port Alberni and the West Coast was briefly closed in both directions

ALBERNI GOLF: First scramble of the 2020 season a success

60 golfers participated in the J & L Mixed Scramble

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Most Read