Courtney providing the transportation, along with Garry Fletcher took two sets of lighthouse keeper’s family members, the Robert Lundy Family and a branch of the (first light keeper ) George N.Davies family for a prearranged visit to Race Rocks today. They left archival documents and photos; and are sending more to add to the web pages;
In the 1921 Canadian Census, Andrew Ritchie (21) is listed as living in West Vancouver with his parents David and Christina, and two sisters, Helen (15) and Annie (23) . They had migrated from Scotland in 1911 as passengers aboard the *”Saturnia”. On November 11 of 1931 Andrew married Mary Kathleen Neave in West Vancouver. They had no children.
In January 2014 I received a letter from Mark Knudson, a great nephew of the Ritchies. He said: “Andrew was my mother’s Uncle and was a lighthouse keeper.
She used to visit him in summer. I have attached a photo from about 1948 showing her in front of the foghorn tower at East Point (Saturna Island.)
Andrew Ritchie and his wife moved to Saturna Island in the fall of 1940, after being at Race Rocks Light station for 7 years. They retired on Saturna Island and were still living there as of the 1963 voters list.
Also attached is a photo of Andrew Ritchie as a 12 year old. He was born in Scotland in 1900 and immigrated with his family around 1911 . He was married to Mary Kathleen Neeve, He died in Saanichton (Victoria) Aug.26, 1988.
During the Second World War, Andrew and Mary Kathleen Ritchie (on the left) were photographed by Francis Clements at Race Rocks with some visitors from Vancouver Island (perhaps parents? ) .
I received the following letter and the pictures from Francis Clements of Calgary, Alberta in about 2003. Francis tells of his posting to Race Rocks in 1939 when he was stationed with five other sailors at the “War Signal Station”. Our sincere thanks to Francis for this wonderful piece of history! Click on his pictures below.
This ship was built by Charles Connell & Company, Glasgow, Scotland, 1910. 8611 gross tons; 456 (bp) feet long; 55 feet wide. Steam triple expansion engines, twin screw. Service speed 14 knots. 1250 passengers ( 50 first class, 1200 third class ).
Built for Donaldson Line, British flag, in 1910 and named Saturnia. Glasgow-Montreal service. Scrapped in Italy in 1928.
(One version:) Apparently his real name was Mercer but because he deserted the British Navy he added Eastwood to his name. He came to the USA to go railroading then went to Canada. He was born in 1864 in Yorkshire and died 2 Mar 1943 age 81 – They had 14 kids and lived at Race Rocks from 1891 until they retired in 1919. From Ancestry.ca: “ According to Annie Barbara Peterson, Granddaughter to Frederick, in her letters to me, she stated that: “My grandfather was Frederick Mercer. He deserted the British Navy and went railroading in the USA. He was forced to change his name so he added “Eastwood” becoming F.M.Eastwood. Hard times, no job brought him to Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada. “ UPDATE: In an e-mail of Dec. 31, 2011 from Kev…. Several other ancestry sites have Frederick Mercer Eastwood Born in London, England on 1861 to Joseph Eastwood and Annie Mercer. They have the same children and death date as Annie Peterson, She might be mistaken in thinking her grandfather was a deserter. (Mercer was her Great Grandmother’s maiden name.) ps Annie Biggs, Frederick Mercer Eastwood’s wife, was a distant cousin of mine, I have her tree and therefore Annie Peterson’s tree, back to Richard Biggs (from whom I’m also descended) b: Abt 1685 in Mells Somerset, England. Death: 1710 in Mells Somerset, Burial: 13 Oct 1710 Mells Somerset . Regards Kev
|Several references to the Eastwood family are available in the records of the Daily Colonist from the period of their stay at Race Rocks. The following records among many others on Race Rocks can be accessed here.|
|Lightkeeper Eastwood charged with leaving the station and employing Japanese(!!) Sept. 19 1900|
|Letter from Col.Prior re: Eastwood inquiry… Note racist overtones common then .|
|Lightkeeper F. Eastwood saw drowning by the overturning of a Columbia River boat loaded — Hesquiot Indian tells another story—-No one drowned!-
Sept 18 1909Cliff Eastwood (son of Frederick Eastwood born on Race Rocks) and Peggy Cleave family:In about 1998, when students from one of the schools from Sooke were visiting as part of the Coastwatch Program, a grade 7 student and his mother identified themselves as being descendants of the Eastwoods from Race Rocks. In 2012, Geri Stevenson wrote to us identifying those in the picture –Geri writes:
Note: In the Census of 1891 when they were at Race Rocks Frederick’s birthday is listed as Mar 2 1863, (age 39) emigrated from England 1881. His wife Annie was born in BC, Mar.10 1872… ( 29 years old) children Joseph (10 ) John ( 9) Edward ( 7) Elizabeth ( 5) Roy ( 4) Rachel ( 2) Ellen(1/4 ).
Also listed for the same record (26) are two “Japanese fishermen” Shot ( sp?) age 20 emigrated 1899 and Likhu (sp?) age 15. emigrated 1900.. their employment is listed as servant….. (see the two Daily Colonist archives above relating to the Japanese employees.)
Frederick Eastwood was appointed keeper at Race Rocks in 1891 and would serve longer than any other, a total of nearly twenty-eight years. Keeper Eastwood had trouble finding reliable assistants given the meager income they were provided. One night his wife found an assistant sleeping under a boiler, and just a few days later Keeper Eastwood visited the engine room at night only to find the post deserted. The missing assistant was later found fast asleep in a loft above the boathouse. After this, Eastwood started to hire Japanese assistants, as they proved more reliable and diligent than white men. This did not set well with some locals, and Keeper Eastwood was soon accused of absenting himself from his post and employing Japanese.
Several neighbours and even former keeper Thomas Argyle, himself familiar with trumped up charges, testified that Eastwood was a careful keeper and was only absent when retrieving mail or picking up supplies. The commission looking into the matter quickly concluded that “the evidence did not substantiate the charges” and adjourned.
Return to the Index of Race Rocks Lightkeepers
|If anyone has any further information / photographs on Thomas Argyle or Ellen we would be interested in adding them here.|
|Feb 1867 – 1888 (Thomas (1839 – 1919) Argyle & Ellen Argyle (d. 1925) May 23, 1867 – 1888; 32 years old in 1872; Chief Keeper; pay $625 per year
Also see The Sappers File on Thomas and Ellen Argyle it starts out “Thomas Argyle was born in Birmingham, England. As a lad with a strong, adventurous spirit, he joined the Royal Engineers of the British Army and volunteered for service in developing the unorganized territory of New Caledonia, later to become the province of British Columbia.”
The picture below was taken around 1890.
|Ellen Argyle: assistant keeper May 23, 1867 – 1871; 32 years old in 1872; 3rd Assistant; pay $150 per year; (British Columbia Report of the Hon. H. L. Langevin, C.B., Minister of Public Works, 1872)|
|In December, 2008, the Times Colonist with the cooperation of The University of Victoria made the archives for the first 50 years of the newspaper available on line at The British Colonist 1858-1910|
|May 11, 1873||Dominion Estimates.. gives lightkeepers salaries,|
|Lightkeepers spend time blasting and removing large rocks making a landing at Race Rocks|
|Feb2, 1877||“Murder”—– “Mr.T. Argyle arrived in town yesterday bringing with him in a canoe the body of an Indian woman, which , from the marks upon it, leaves but little doubt that the woman was foully murdered.”|
|Trial of James Argyle for rescuing deserters from a naval ship (Full newspaper page!|
|A watery grave: Thomas Argyle Jr., at 25 years of age the eldest son of lighthouse keeper Thomas Argyle, along with three other friends who were on their way out to Race Rocks to stay overnight with his parents, all drowned in a gale.|
|Lightkeeper Argyle searches and is unable to find his son and other drowning victims.|
From METCHOSIN PIONEERS
On April 12, 1859 the vessel Thames City dropped anchor in Esquimalt
Harbour. On board that ship, together with 150 other members of the Royal
Engineers, was Thomas Argyle. The journey from England had been long and
tedious and Thomas helped passed the time entertaining the rest of the men
by singing humorous songs. He was a fine singer.
Immediately upon arrival the main body of engineers were sent to
Queensborough, now New Westminster. The next five years were spent
surveying land and building wagon roads through the Fraser Canyon to
Clinton and the Cariboo. When the time came to re-embark for England,
November 11, 1863, only 15 of the original 150 men went on the ship.
Thomas elected, as did most of the men, to stay in British Columbia and
availed himself of 150 acres free land grant for prime waterfront land at
Rocky Point. At that time, Rocky Point was practically without white
In 1862, a young lady by the name of Mary Ellen Tufts, set sail for
British Columbia from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Miss Tufts was the daughter of
Samuel Tufts, a United Empire Loyalist whose forebears came over from
England on the Mayflower. Chased out of Massachusetts at the time of the
revolution, the Tufts family had settled in Halifax in 1776, at a spot
still known as Tufts Cove. Soon after her arrival on the West Coast, Miss
Tufts met Thomas Argyle and they were married in 1863 and took up
residence on the land at Rocky Point.
In 1867 the Thomas Argyle was appointed chief keeper of the Race Rocks
Lighthouse, 10 miles below Victoria, and he maintained that position until
1888, when he retired and returned to his Rocky Point home.
The above information is taken from the book “FOOTPRINTS, Pioneer Families
of the Metchosin District, Southern Vancouver Island 1851 – 1900”. This
book was compiled and edited by Marion I Helgesen and Published by the
Metchosin School Museum Society
|Phil Daykin and his wife Anna were the lightkeepers at Race Rocks from January 1, 1889 to April 23rd, 1891( Cadieux papers say he started July 03, 1889?) The Daily Colonist of the time does not have any information about them being at Race Rocks, however from April 17, 1891 to July 19, 1912, he was the lightkeeper at Carmanah Point Lighthouse which had just opened on September 15, 1890. Mrs. Daykin died there in 1906. There they encountered many incredible and tragic events from shipwrecks to untimely deaths of friends and family, some of which I have represented below.|
|These references are possible because in December, 2008, the Times Colonist with the cooperation of The University of Victoria made the archives for the first 50 years of the newspaper available on line at
The British Colonist 1858-1910
|May 6, 1889 News of Coal near Carmanah Point reported by Daykin ( He has secured a large section of land in the area.)|
|December 3, 1892 Daykin reports serious trouble among the Indians of the Nitnat Tribe|
|April 6, 1893 Daykin and his two sons assist two officers who secured wreck of the Michigan|
|October 3, 1893, Phil Daykin searches for his son Ted and a friend drowned while fishing at Nitnat.|
|January 3, 1894 Invited to Carmanah for New Years, Norman Friend drowns|
|September 20, 1894 Phil and Anna Daykin’s son William is second one to die.|
|January 14, 1896 Saved from the sea.Crew of the Janet Cowan Arrive by the Louise after stayng with Daykin.|
|January 15, 1896 Wreckage of the Janet Cowan and need for lighthouse on Bonilla Point|
|Aug 22, 1896 A missionary writes a biased article on the potlatch which infuriates Phil Daykin|
|Sept 19, 1896 Phil Daykin writes his opposition to the missionary’s letter.|
|October 4, 1896 a methodist missionary opposing Daykins comments on the potlatch|
|File on Shipwrecks at Race Rocks|
|More Archival entries|
Go to the HISTORY INDEX for Race Rocks
|Proceed to: CONTEMPORARY HISTORY- 1975-present
|For photographs of the Light station in the early years go to this file:|
Trevor and Flo Anderson, lightkeepers at Race Rocks from July 28, 1966 until March 2, 1982 had a very pleasant visit at Race Rocks today. Trev and Flo provided endless stories of their 16 years here and certainly provided some historical tidbits for our benefit. Many, many things have changed on the Island since the Anderson’s time. Garry accompanied while Erik drove the boat.
Misery took his time in occupying the pathway as we were trying to get by.
There were 4 visitors to the island today.
Arthur Anderson was the second light keeper to loose his life in a tragedy at Race Rocks . On January 23 1950, Arthur Anderson left his wife and two children, (Linda and Jacqueline) to obtain supplies ashore and never returned. His skiff turned up empty along the American shore near Port Angeles. Anderson was never found.
Jacqueline (Stockard) passed away on May 28, 2011. Jackie arrived in Canada with her parents (having been born in Kent England), at the age of two . She spent her first year living at Race Rocks. It was here that she lost her dad Arthur to a sudden storm as he tried to return by skiff to Race Rocks. Her obituary notes that she always had a fear of water but despite this she married a shipwright,and commercial fisherman, Bruce. Stockard. They had three children.
(with recent clarification from the 1921 census.)
James Thomas Forsyth was the lightkeeper at Race Rocks from February 1, 1919 to December 10,1932 -. James was born November 16, 1870 in Halifax,NS. and died December 10.1932 in Victoria. He was married to Ellen Josephine. They had a daughter named Evelyn Alberta, who married Henry I. Mackenzie who filled in as temporary keeper for a year when James Forsyth died.
(Ed note: The 1921 census provides the name Ellen Josephine Forsyth (age 47) born in 1874 as the spouse, She came from Nova Scotia, Canada, nationality Canadian and “race French” and her father and mother were born in Nova Scotia.Thomas’s father was born in England, his mother in Canada, but his race is listed as Scotch! Thomas had a light keeper’s salary of $700.00 per year. Also the daughter Evelyn Alberta Forsythe age18 (was born in the USA in about 1903).
In January of 2011, I received an e-mail from Bob MacDonald , formerly a fisheries officer, of DFO, Victoria. “I was a Fishery Officer, Victoria Office, 1986 to 2009. During that time, I came into possession of a bible that was given to a person “Evelyn” at Egg Island on Aug.12, 1910. I believe Forsyth, James Thomas, was the keeper at the time and later at Race Rocks? Evelyn may have been the wife or daughter or just a visitor to Egg Island. Rev. M. Gibson presented this bible to her. I have tried searching everything I can for information to return this bible to the family. Not even sure they want it, but I love history of all kinds, but in particular Canadian local stuff. The things we find in our travels, some, way off the beaten path turn up amazing stuff.” Bob MacDonald. .Any help locating the family of Evelyn and Henry would be greatly appreciated.“
This daughter Evelyn Alberta lived at the lightstations and on Nov 24, 1931 married Henry Ives MacKenzie who served as light keeper for a short time.
|Henry MacKenzie||Census 1916
||Battle River Alberta||27||1884||Nova Scotia||boarder
|Henry Ives MacKenzie||Death record July2, 1947||Victoria||63||1884|
|James was born November 16, 1870 in Halifax,NS. and died December 10.1932 in Victoria. He was married to Ellen J. They had a daughter named Evelyn, who married Henry I. Mackenzie who filled in as temporary keeper for a year when James Forsyth died.
Kathlene’s son David Hutton, now living in Aldergrove has helped to fill in this family history
The lightkeeper James T. Forsyth had three sisters, Kate (b.1873), and Annie and Jennie.
On January 9, 2011: Research with the assistance of a genealogist, Sharen Haggarty, from Calgary showed several records in the Canadian Census records of 1891,1911 and 1916, so the following possibilities arise as we attempt to construct this family tree .Any help locating the Forsyth family for contact greatly appreciated.
|James Forsyth||1891 census||Victoria||21||1870||unitarian||waiter|
|James Forsyth||1932,Dec 10 died||Victoria||62||1870|
|THE PROBLEM EVELYN !|
|In January of 2011, I received an e-mail from Bob MacDonald , formerly a fisheries officer, of DFO, Victoria.
” I was a Fishery Officer, Victoria Office, 1986 to 2009. During that time, I came into possession of a bible that was given to a person “Evelyn” at Egg Island on Aug.12, 1910. I believe Forsyth, James Thomas, was the keeper at the time and later at Race Rocks? Evelyn may have been the wife or daughter or just a visitor to Egg Island. Rev. M. Gibson presented this bible to her. I have tried searching everything I can for information to return this bible to the family. Not even sure they want it, but I love history of all kinds, but in particular Canadian local stuff. The things we find in our travels, some, way off the beaten path turn up amazing stuff.
|We are not sure if any of the Evelyns lsited below are the right one. Any further information would be appreciated.|
|Evelyn||1911 census||Moose Jaw||9 mo.||1910||daughter of Arthur Forsyth,. She could have been adopted later to James and Ellen??|
|recorded here as the granddaughter of James and Malinda (German, 56yrs) Forsyth. This James was born in 1839 so was 71 in 1911. Her brother Edgar (29) and Corrie (26) are also recorded here.||Scottish Baptist|
|Evelyn||1916 census||Yorkton Sask.||6||1910||daughter of Arthur Forsyth (age 29) mother was Eva , two bros.Gordon and Harold||English Presbyterian|
|Evelyn||1916 census||Winnipeg Man.||7||daughter of James Forsyth., mother shown as Mabel with a brother George.||Anglican|
|So far there is still a question in determining which was the Evelyn which lived at the lightstations and who married Henry MacKenzie who served as light keeper for a short time.|
|Henry MacKenzie||Census 1916
||Battle River Alberta||27||1884||Nova Scotia||boarder
|Henry Ives MacKenzie||Death record July2, 1947||Victoria||63||1884|
|In preparation for the 150th anniversary of the Race Rocks Lightstation
(December 2010) I have come up with a variety of references, about George Nicholas Davies and his wife Rosina. I am entering them here and would urge anyone with further information or photos to get in touch and I would be glad to add them to this historical record. Garry Fletcher
For some time now, we have had the following entries on our Race Rocks History page about the Davies family: Soon after the light went into service in 1860 it became obvious that the tower was difficult to see by day when approaching from the west. Distinctive black and white stripes were painted on the tower by the first lightkeeper George Davies to improve it’s visibility against the shoreline. These markings remain today maintaining Race Rock’s unique appearance. Although the light was a great improvement on clear nights when it was visible for 18 miles the hazards of Race Rocks were still very real in fog.
The first keeper’s time at the Race was a very unfortunate one. George Davies and his wife Rosina eagerly awaited the visit of her brother, sister-in-law and three friends on Christmas Day 1865. As the skiff approached with the Davies family watching and waving from the station, a tide rip only 20 feet from the jetty swept the small boat away, capsizing it and dumping the shocked passengers and their Christmas gifts into the water. The station had no boat at this time and each of the unfortunate visitors perished. The new year was no better for the Davies family. During the winter of 1866 George became seriously ill. The Union Jack flew at half mast at the station as a signal of distress for nine days but to no avail. George Davies died at Race Rocks shortly before Christmas 1866.
LIGHTHOUSE DIGEST – July,2002
George Nicholson Davies First Keeper on Canada’s West Coast,
An excellent account of the Davies history by Jeremy D’Entremont . refers to Joy Davies research.
Seaside Memories Tribute to Race Rocks
George Nicholas Davies/light keeper Race Rocks and Fisgard
” Seaside Memories is a tribute to my Great-Great Grandfather George Nicholas Davies. He holds the honour and distinction of being the first full-time lightkeeper at Race Rocks just outside Victoria Harbour. His memory is with me as I watch from our window the waves washing the shore. The light in our guest suites will welcome travellers both Near and Far.
by his Great Great Granddaughter, Wendy Breaks.
I am conducting a research project and I’m looking for any images of George Davies – British Columbia’s first lightkeeper. I have checked with the BC Archives and came up with nothing. Does anyone know if there are any photographs or portraits in existence?
Mark Evans – Vancouver, B.C. Canada 1999-10-27
Anyone out there have connections to George Nicholas Davies the Lighthouse keeper at Race Rocks and Fisgard lighthouses in British Columbia Canada, or to his son George Nicholas Davies who was a coal miner, Fire Chief and Brewer at Naniamo,B.C. Canada in 1800-early 1900,s ,he died in 1934 and his wife Louisa Jenner died in 1950.? The Davies were supposedly from Wales, some from England, arrived in Canada in 1860.They came with three children-George (just mentioned), James and Rosemary.Their ship sustained damage rounding Cape Horn in rough seas and had to change ships at Hawaii then made their way to Canada to fulfill their lightkeeper contract.More info to share soon.
by Ken Davies, 23 Jul 2000
Anyone connected to this Welsh fellow who immigrated to Victoria,B.C.Canada from England Aug 1860? Wife Rosina Warner. Children:David,James,George and Mary Elisabeth.
The head of this tribe immigrated here in Aug of 1860 and he was George Nicholas Davies (apparently from Wales),married to Rosina Warner, after his death in about 1866, she later married a Peter Harman. When George and Rosina immigrated from England,they brought their four children over as well, three with them and a child that was ill came later with someone else. Some of the Warner family were here too and there is a very sad story about this family in websites and books for Fisgard and Race Rocks lighthouses on B.C. West Coast, George and Rosina were the 1st lightkeepers over here. One of the books, Keepers of the Light, by Donald Graham, is excellent. Anyway, one of their sons was born in London,LongAcre County, Middlesex,England, possibly more born there.
by Joy Davies 12 Feb 2003
I am a descendant of George Nicolas Davies through my maternal grandmother’s side. Her father was William Rafter, his mother was Laura Helen Davies, and her father was George N Davies. I am wondering about the information you provided regarding his father George (the lightkeeper) and his wife Rosina? May I ask where I can get a hold of this information? For some reason I had George sr.’s wife penciled in as Elisabeth – I am looking over “George Davis” and “Louisa Jenner”s marriage cert and that is what it says under George’s parents. I would love to clear this up or update my info. Hope to hear from you. Warm Regards,
by: Joseph Isaac 22 May 2009
George Nicholas Davies was the son to the lighthouse keeper George and wife Rosina immigrated to Canada with three sons. Two came with parents, because of health problems the other joined them later. For more information. You can e-mail me jdixie (use the at sign here) shaw.ca
by Kathleen Dixon Mar 2004
George Nicholas Davies/light keeper Race Rocks and Fisgard
1.There is a book out that will give some information about the Davies connection to the lighthouses Victoria BC. ” Keepers of the Light” By Donald Graham.
2. George and Louisa from Naniamo are my great-grandparents. One of the sons of the first George N (lighthouse keeper)
by Kathleen Dixon 11 Oct 2009
Mike Slater passed away on February 12, 2017.
In 1990 the head keeper Mike Slater and his wife Carol came to the station. Carol in particular held strong views about the need to live in harmony with the nature that truly surrounds Race Rocks. The Slaters worked hard to protect the reserve and assist researchers. These volunteer activities fall far outside their regular lightstation duties. During the early 1990’s the ominous signs of the first radical change at Race Rocks became apparent as the Coast Guard experimented with automated equipment to operate the station. In the spring of 1994 the first announcements about de-staffing of lightstations on the British Columbia Coast were made. The decision was surprising and unpopular. In September, 1995, the Minister of Fisheries, Brian Tobin and the MP for Victoria, David Anderson paid a visit to the island and are shown here talking with Mike and Carol Slater and Pearson College faculty and students. Most surprising, a few months later was the announcement that Race Rocks was on the list of the seven stations to be de-staffed in the first round of budget cuts. Race Rocks was to be closed on March 1st 1997. Mike and Carol watched as the last of the automated equipment was installed and a maintenance crew measured the windows of their house for shutters. They might as well have measured the keepers for a box too as the end of a way of life would be coming to Race Rocks.
TEMPORARY REPRIEVE, 1997:
For the time being Race Rocks and its keepers won a reprieve. In an emergency two year agreement Pearson College undertook to operate the facility in cooperation with the Coast Guard, as an education centre. A private donor agreed to cover the salary costs for the Slaters who were invited to stay on at Race Rocks by Pearson College. The College continued negotiations with the Provincial Government, the actual owners of the land, to operate the facility on a long term basis. Twenty years later, Lester B. Pearson College is still managing the island on a long term lease from BC Parks. We are determined to make the island self-sufficient. So with that in mind, the Race Rocks endowment fund has been set up for operating racerocks.