Thomas Argyle and Ellen- Race Rocks Lightkeepers 1867-1888

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.


Courtesy of the BC Archives

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,
May 29
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.”
Nov. 7
Trial of James Argyle for rescuing deserters from a naval ship (Full newspaper page!
July 31
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.
Aug 2
Lightkeeper Argyle searches and is unable to find his son and other drowning victims.


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

See The Lightkeepers Index