Lighthouses have a romantic appeal, tourists are attracted to them, and post cards are printed. But they are more than historic relics. They play a key role in maintaining maritime safety and preventing environmental disasters from occurring in our oceans. That is why over 90 countries participate in the International Day recognizing the work done by lighthouses and their keeps to prevent shipwrecks.
UCTE is the only union that represents lighthouse keepers across Canada that are operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. We are happy to pay tribute to our members that work to keep the seas safe.
Here are 5 facts that you should know:
- Canada’s coastline is diverse and rough. It’s important to have a lighthouse that you can spot from the sea to keep you safe. In case of an emergency, they know where to go as soon as possible.
- Our weather is varied and can change quickly creating dangerous conditions. Lightkeepers provide up to date meteorological information to Environment Canada so that this sailor have up to the minute information.
- There is a lot of traffic around the coast for shipping, fishing, and hobby sailors. Lightkeepers continuously monitor traffic and tidal patterns to help ensure safe passage.
- In some places there is no cellphone network or wi-fi so the only way to communicate is the marine radio. Lightkeepers assist in the communication of information when needed.
- Lightkeepers are often first responders to mariners who are in need of aid or assistance. Likewise, they can play a vital role in marine rescues.
On July 26th, 2019, a small float plane carrying 9 passengers crashed at Addenbroke Island, located approximately 83 kilometers north of Vancouver Island.. For those who may not know, Addenbrooke Island is an island inhabited only by the 2 lightkeepers posted at this light. Principal lightkeeper Jason Smereka and Assistant lightkeeper Sharon Best worked tirelessly in helping with the rescue and recovery of victims and survivors.
Incidents and event like these speak to the role that the Light Keepers play in the safety of our seas. This International Day Lighthouse we say thank you to all our lightkeepers around Canada.