Carmanah Point Light, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Carmanah Point Light, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

by | May 20, 2021

The Carmanah Point Light Station is on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and marks the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 65 miles (105 km) west-northwest of Victoria and 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Port Renfrew, British Columbia. The point was named after a nearby village inhabited by the Ditidaht First Nation and the Nitinaht language name translates to “thus far upstream”. 

The original structure was built in 1891 and consisted of a combined lighthouse and dwelling at an elevation of 173 feet (53 m) above high water and visible for 19 miles (31 km) with a distinctive signature of three white flashes each minute. This was replaced in 1922 with the current concrete tower. Over time additional structures were added including three residences, power generator, fog alarm, and radio buildings. In addition to its navigational aids, Carmanah Point also served as a traffic control center. Flag signals were first used to communicate with offshore vessels, and then in 1896, a steam whistle, separate from the fog alarm, was established so messages could be exchanged via Morse code even in foggy conditions. Using the station’s telegraph, the lightkeeper could then relay important messages and notifications of ship arrivals to Victoria.

The lighthouses at Cape Beale, Carmanah, and Pachena were linked by telegraph and trail to Port Renfrew. The trail was often used to rescue shipwrecked crews, and today thousands of hikers walk the renowned West Coast Trail. The beaches along the coast were piled high with wreckage and nearly every point, reef and beach now bear the name or tradition of a shipwreck, but many more remain unknown and unrecorded. Read more here and here. Explore more of Carmanah Point here:

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