While surveying the Gulf Islands in 1861, Captain Daniel Richardson of the Royal Navy named Prevost Island’s eastern extreme Portlock Point after Captain Nathaniel Portlock, who served as a master’s mate aboard the H.M.S. Discovery and H.M.S. Resolution in the 1770s. Nathaniel Portlock would later command the King George on a successful fur-trading expedition to the Pacific Northwest from 1785 to 1788.
Today, thousands of visitors view the diminutive lighthouse on Prevost Island as they comfortably slip past the Portlock Point aboard a ferry, but most will remain ignorant of the pain, suffering, and death that occurred at this seemingly peaceful outpost.
An unmanned stake light was established on Portlock Point in 1890 at the request of George Rudling, captain of the steamer Islander, to help vessels make the transition between Swanson Channel and Trincomali Channel on their way between Vancouver and Victoria. Five years later, G. A. Frost built a square pyramidal wooden tower, with a kitchen attached, on the point at a contract price of $870. The tower stood forty-eight feet tall, from base to vane, and exhibited a fixed white light at a focal plane of seventy-two feet with a red sector covering Enterprise Reef. The light, produced by a dioptric illuminating apparatus of the seventh-order, was put in operation on November 1, 1895.
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