Point Atkinson Lightstation (PALS)
Since 1998, the Point Atkinson Lightstation (PALS), a sub-committee of the West Vancouver Historical Society, has taken the lead in advocating for the preservation of Point Atkinson as a fully functioning heritage site. The committee’s goals are to preserve the buildings, historic access and inner workings. Documenting the history of Point Atkinson will ensure future generations of Canadians have access to, and can learn more about, the Lighthouse and its significance and its value to West Vancouver and to our nation.
PALS has been involved in securing repair for the buildings in most serious need, and it continues to seek consensus with government jurisdictions responsible for Point Atkinson’s future.
To learn more about the Point Atkinson Light station, click here:PALS
Elaine Graham has cared for the Point Atkinson light station for 39 years. She has been a driving force in advocating for the future of the Light station and a long time member of the West Vancouver Historical Society. Read more about the recognition from the District of West Vancouver for Elaine’s contribution to the preservation of heritage through education and advocacy.
In Sept 2020 Elaine retired from her role as groundskeeper at Point Atkinson and she will be moving to be near her family on Vancouver Island. Few West Vancouver citizens have shown greater devotion to the public good than Elaine and we all owe her our heartfelt thanks.
She came to Point Atkinson with her husband Don Graham in 1981. Don was the last lighthouse keeper on the site before it was automated in 1996. Don continued as groundskeeper at Point Atkinson until his death in 2003, when those duties transferred to Elaine.
She helped people connect with the natural world of the park, created the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society, created a museum composed of equipment, relics, and photos from the lighthouse, and she fought hard against neglect by the federal authorities responsible for the site.
Rod Day, President of WVHS recently recognized Elaine’s significant contributions to the community and to WVHS at a farewell gathering, fittingly held in Lighthouse Park. Read the farewell comments here.
Read more about Elaine in the North Shore News, Sept 27, 2020 – West Vancouver lighthouse and park caretaker heads to drier land after 40 years. Elaine Graham, who’s retiring at the end of September, co-founded Lighthouse Park Preservation Society
Lighthouse Tower History
Point Atkinson was one of the first three public works to be built by the Dominion in return for B.C. agreeing to join Canada in 1871. The agreement included a lightship at the mouth of the Fraser River and the construction of two lighthouses on Vancouver Island, Race Rocks Light and the Fisgard Lighthouse, both built in 1860.
Point Atkinson’s first tower, a brick and wood frame construction with attached dwelling, took two years to build and cost $4250 in 1874. It measured 49 feet from its base to the vane of the lantern. The square tower served both as a lighthouse and dwelling for a light keeper and an assistant, including one sleeping apartment and a passageway to the lantern. The original light shone from a wood tower 95’ above the sea, visible 14 miles away on a clear night.
In 1910, the station was transformed. The original frame tower was torn down and replaced by 1912. Col. Wm. P. Anderson, Chairman of the Lighthouse Board designed a hexagonal reinforced concrete tower embraced by six buttresses, an innovative design which gives greater stability to the tower in high winds. Standing 18.3 m (108′) above sea level, it is a functional monument, which in 1912 won accolades worldwide. The tower became a prototype which has since been used throughout Canada.
In 1994 Point Atkinson was designated a “National Historic Site”. Two years later the light station was automated. It is still a functioning aid to navigation, serviced by Fisheries & Oceans Canada.
Lighthouse Park Preservation Society
Situated by the waters edge, Lighthouse Park covers more than 185 acres in West Vancouver. In 1998, the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society, a membership-based non-profit organization, was formed to:
Protect the natural integrity of Lighthouse Park;
Promote public awareness of its natural features; and
Support the development of biological zones near the park boundaries.
To support the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society’s work to improve the long-term health and biological integrity of this amazing coastal old growth forest park, click here:LPPS