Gordon Odlum and his wife Jean were resident at Race Rocks from Oct 1,
1952 – July 31, 1961, So far we have very little information on them
except one special entry in a research paper : The British Columbia Nest Records Scheme Author(s): M. T. Myres, I. McT. Cowan, M. D. F. Udvardy Source: The Condor, Vol. 59, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct.,1957), pp. 308-310 Published by: University of California Press on behalf
of the Cooper Ornithological Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1364966
I have quoted the part referring to Gordon below: “The purpose of the scheme is to collect information on birds’ nests that ornithologists and bird-watchers find, but which would otherwise go unrecorded or are recorded but left idle in personal field notebooks or diaries. The main items of avian biology that can be analyzed by this scheme are as follows:
1. The timing of the breeding season, the succession of clutches in species which lay more than one, and the variations in laying time from place to place and from year to year.
2. The size of the clutch and how this varies with latitude, altitude and climate.
3. The degree of success that birds have in hatching and rearing their young.
4. The essentials of habitat preference and variation in habitat throughout the range of a
species; these data are provide
In 1956, 1003 cards were returned and these covered 1606 nests or broods.
Particular mention should be made of the 120 nests of Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens) which Mr. Gordon C. Odlum watched on Race Rocks, off the southern
end of Vancouver Island. He was able to study them from the pre-egg stage through to hatching, and his observations are an example of the most valuable types of nest-record returns. It is seldom that sufficient nests are watched right through from the start until they either fail or their young fledge successfully .
A Cooperative scheme for the assembling of data on the breeding biology of birds was organized in British Columbia in 1955. The aims of this scheme are outlined, and it is suggested that observers over the whole Pacific coastal region might eventually cooperate in the scheme. Already 1600 cards covering 2700 nests or broods of 139 species have been collected and are available for consultation Department of Zoology, University of
British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, February 8, 1957.
Gordon Odlum grew up in Vancouver and during an outing one day he hiked to Point Atkinson Lighthouse, where Keeper Thomas Grafton kindly gave him a tour. Odlum was captivated by the life of a lighthouse keeper, and after frequent visits out to Capilano Lighthouse, he decided to become a keeper himself. After brief assignments at numerous lighthouses, Odlum was transferred to Triple Islands Lighthouse in November 1942. He seemed to made for the work, as a year later, he wrote home, “I think I can truthfully say that I haven’t felt at all lonesome, partly I guess because I’m built this way…”
He must have felt at least a bit lonesome as he decided to bake a tiny loaf of bread and send it to an attractive girl that worked at the Glass Bakery in downtown Vancouver. Not having her home address, he sent the package to the bakery and then eagerly waited a reply. A response arrived in December 1943, a true Christmas gift, and Odlum wasted no time in writing back. “It was sweet of you to remember little old shabby lightkeeping me. It seems such a long time since I had the pleasure of going into Glass Bakery and saying ‘Hello. Two whites please’ to your sunny smile. Fifteen months it has been since I have been ashore. I wonder if you might be married and have four children by now?”
A seven-month-long courtship by mail followed, and the couple married on September 20, 1944 in Vancouver. After a short honeymoon, the Odlums headed north to Triple Islands. While Gordon was gradually introduced to the remote lifestyle of a lightkeeper, eighteen-year-old Jean was plucked from Vancouver and planted on the most remote and confining station in British Columbia. Many a sailor bet the pretty, young girl wouldn’t last a year on “the Rock,” but she did, and it wasn’t until eight years later, in 1952, that the couple was transferred to a station a bit closer to humanity – Race Rocks. After nearly a decade there, Keeper Odlum lucked out and got Point Atkinson, where he was first introduced to lighthouse keeping, and stayed there from 1961-1974.