Street railwaymen. Ernie Dawe is in the first row, on the far right.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Courtesy of Larry Dawe.


Dawes (1935-1961)
Ernie Dawe and his family took over the lighthouse from the Grafton family on 6 June 1935. His 26-year tenure at the lighthouse saw Point Atkinson become increasingly accessible. The military was stationed at the Point and their engineers built a road from Marine Drive to the lighthouse, which, after the war, made the lighthouse and the surrounding park, within easy reach to tourists and Lower Mainland residents.


Dawes with Joyce Godard's nieces and nephew.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Courtesy of Joyce Godard.


Vetrans' Home Guard and Navy Signalmen.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Courtesy of Norm Dawe.


The Dawes saw the military come to Point Atkinson with World War II. The military presence at the lighthouse was significant. The Point was home to new buildings to house the equipment and over seventy military personnel stationed there to watch over the entrance to the Port. Dances were held on weekends, and the light keeper had increased responsibilities, such as participating in gas mask drills, as a result of living in the middle of a military camp.


Navy signal house next to lighthouse, from lower rocks.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Courtesy of Norm Dawe.


Marianne Cummings and Bob Sears.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


During the Dawes' time at the Point, the lighthouse became increasingly accessible. The military road helped, as did the construction of Lion's Gate Bridge. Better transportation methods, such as the railway and bus services, were also introduced. Going to school and buying provisions no longer required a journey by boat or, when weather was foul, a long trek through the bear and cougar patrolled bush. Even though Point Atkinson was still not outfitted with electricity, radio phones were introduced, making it even easier to keep in touch with other keepers.


L-R, back row: Wilf and Bob Sears. L-R, front row: Norm, Gladys, Ernie and Marjorie Dawe.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Ernie Dawe was good at maintaining connections with other keepers due to his union involvement. Ernie Dawe's son, Norm, remembers other light keepers coming to visit: He got some that would visit him, when they were in town, if they were on their holiday…. [Ernie Dawe] would get to know them that way. Also they would correspond… he would know every light keeper by name, his little habits and so forth and we would get this from the old boy system.


Odlums (1961-1974)
By the time Gordon and Jean Odlum took over the lighthouse in 1961, Point Atkinson and Lighthouse Park were popular with residents and tourists.

Jean Odlum remembers:
If there had been somebody needing medical help or something like that, they would just come down and ask to use the phone for someone to come and pick them up. The fact that the gate was locked, it involved immediately fire or police because nobody else would have a key unless Paddy was there… That was the Parks man, Paddy Copeland…. We had a run in with a couple of children, a couple of boys. I guess they were 12, 13, something like that. I forget exactly what they had done, whether they had broken a window on the tower or what. Anyway, they had trespassed into the area and were fooling around, around the tower. Gordon phoned their father and their father came out, and he was quite upset about the whole business. I don't know how serious it was. He said to Gordon that 'you can decide a punishment for them.' So Gordie said that they had to clean all the windows.


Entrance to Lighthouse Park.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Jean Odlum remembers the lighthouse was often a stop for visiting dignitaries:
[Gordon Odlum] really enjoyed [visitors], especially if they were interesting people. We had people like Katherine Hepburn, and some of those big wigs. He enjoyed that, talking to them.

The technology had changed too. An electric motor replaced the weighted clockworks that had required keepers to wind the motor every 2 ˝ hours, even though the light itself still rested in a hazardous mercury bath. Telephones were provided to keepers allowing them even greater contact with the world beyond the light.


Don Graham at the top of the Lighthouse.
Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Courtesy of Elaine Graham.