Jim Bruton was born in Wales in 1926, but his family relocated to British Columbia in Canada when he was just one year old. He started working in the logging industry when he was 14. After serving as a merchant seaman during World War II, in 1945 Bruton became an assistant keeper, or junior keeper, at Lennard Island Lightstation, off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino.
After a brief time at Lennard Island, Jim Bruton left the lighthouse service for a while and returned in the logging industry. In 1951 he met and married Evelyn Stockman from Edmonton. Evelyn had no idea she would spend nearly 30 years at lighthouses. Jim returned to light keeping in 1958 as a junior keeper at Discovery Island. After a year and a half as junior keeper at Discovery Island, he was the principal keeper at Chrome Island off the east coast of Vancouver Island for four years. He then returned to Lennard Island from 1964 to 1968.
The Brutons eventually had four children, three girls and a boy. Their daughter Elanie lived at the light stations until she was 18. Jim Bruton was often heard to say, “I have the best kids in the world.” The family moved to Sheringham Point, a mainland lightstation in Shirley on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, in 1968. Jim Bruton replaced Fred Mountain, the previous keeper, who had died at the station. Bruton’s daughter Sharon was wed at the top of the lighthouse in December 1976, with the couple’s vows broadcast over CB radio.
The Brutons lived at Sheringham Point for nearly two decades, until 1986, when Jim Bruton retired. Today, Jim’s daughter Elanie Bruton remains a very active volunteer of the Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society, which was formed in 2003 and took ownership of the lighthouse and surrounding land in 2015.
This part 1 of 2. The second part, which will be posted on February 17, features interviews with Rebecca Quinn, author of Sheringham: A Canadian Heritage Story, and John Walls, vice president of the Sheringham Point Lighthouse Society.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org