History in person

B.C. Aviation Museum guide Robbie Anderson at display of one of his favourites – the Comet passenger jet.

It didn’t appear too busy that day when we pulled up. We walked to the entrance of the museum, which was essentially a number of aircraft hangars strung together near the airport in Victoria, B.C. As soon as we came through the front door, we were greeted by the cashier taking admissions and a man wearing an identification badge. It read Volunteer – Robbie Anderson.

“Hello,” Anderson said pleasantly. “I’ll be your personal guide today.”

Well, that was new. I’ve visited a lot of museums in my time, but not unless I had specifically arranged for a guided tour, had I ever been personally greeted at the museum door that way.

Cost of lighting the way

Courtesy Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.
Courtesy Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.

On Nov. 16, 1860, George Davies made history. The lighthouse keeper climbed the newly constructed, 15-metre-high, conical tower of Fisgard Lighthouse at the entrance to Esquimalt naval harbour on Vancouver Island. His appointment not only helped the British claim sovereignty of the Pacific Coast, it also made a statement about public investment in literacy. In addition to his salary for the nightly lamp lighting atop Fisgard, keeper Davies received a $150 stipend to purchase magazines and books.

“It is of the utmost importance to the interests of the Lighthouse Service,” the Governor of Vancouver Island stated at the time, “that the minds and intellects of the lighthouse keepers should not be allowed to stagnate in their isolated and … desolate stations.”