Beach Canal Lighthouse Group, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

BCLG Governance

Constitution and By-laws

In accordance with the Constitution and By-laws, the BCLG is governed by a Board of Directors and Officers. Directors are elected by the general membership at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for staggered two-year terms. Theoretically, there are four officers: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Chair and Vice-Chair are elected from the Board of Directors at the first meeting of the Executive Committee following the AGM. The Secretary and the Treasurer are elected by the general membership at the AGM and there are no term limits. For practical purposes, the single position of Secretary as defined in the current By-laws has been split into two: Recording Secretary and Membership Secretary. In 2022, the BCLG Executive will be considering some amendments to the Constitution and By-laws to reflect this and other changes that have been made in practice, such as the minimum number of general meetings to be held annually.

The Board of Directors and Officers for the period between the most recent AGM (November 14, 2021) to the November 2022 AGM are listed below with some biographical background on each person.  The Executive Committee is made up of these directors and officers and may also include Advisors: BCLG members with expertise and/ or specific skills relevant to the light station preservation/ restoration project. Advisors may have previously served as a Director or Officer; they may opt to attend executive meetings on a regular basis or from time-to-time, as needed; but they do not have voting privileges at Executive meetings..

Directors and Officers (2021 – 2022)


Ian Kerr-Wilson, Chair

In 2019, Ian retired as the Manager of Heritage Resource Management for the City of Hamilton.  He began working in the heritage field in 1981, as a public programmer at various museums in Kingston and Toronto.  He joined the City of Hamilton in 1989, holding programming, curatorial and management positions over the next 30 years.  As manager, he oversaw 9 city-owned and operated museums (including 6 national historic sites), 40 heritage buildings, 100-plus monuments, memorials and historic plaques.

Ian holds a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto, a MA in History, a B.Ed. from Queen’s University and a B.A. from Trent University.

In retirement, in addition to the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group, he is active with the Global Network of Water Museums, the Toronto Railway Museum, the Program Advisory Committee for the Centennial College Museum and Cultural Management Program, and the Hamilton 175 Committee.  Ian was elected to the BCLG Board of Directors in November 2019 and took over the position of Chair at the November 2021 AGM.    

Tony Thoma, Vice-Chair

Tony is currently Dean of the School of Engineering, Technology, Trades and Apprenticeship at Conestoga College.  Prior to this, he has had other similar roles at Niagara College and Mohawk College.  Tony has also held senior-level positions in industry including, Vice-President, Operations at Matalco Inc. and Global Technical Director at Wescast Industries.

Tony is a licensed Professional Engineer (PEO), a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, has served as a member of the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Stakeholder Advisory Committee.  He has also recently served as Chair for the steering committee for the City of Hamilton’s Citizens Jury for the upcoming LRT initiative.

Tony holds several degrees, including an M.B.A. from the University of Western Ontario, an Honours B.B.A from Brock University, and a B.Sc. in Metallurgy and Materials Science from McMaster University.  More recently he has completed the McMaster University Chartered Directors Program.  Tony was elected to the BCLG Board of Directors in November 2019.  

G.A. (Sandy) Thomson, Past Chair

Since 1965, George (Sandy) Thomson has been the 3rd generation owner of the successful family business, Thomson-Gordon Group, located in Burlington, Ontario.  Started by Sandy’s grandfather, he has now passed it on to a 4th generation – his step-daughter, Anna Galoni.

After Sandy graduated from Northrop University in California with a B.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, he worked for a mechanical seal company for several years.  He then followed his passion for film, starting Cinema Sixteen Inc, a film production company that produced documentaries and corporate videos, until joining the family business in 1965.  

Today, the Thomson-Gordon Group encompasses two diverse business units; Thordon Bearings – a manufacturer of bearing and seal solutions eliminating oil and grease for applications in the marine, clean power, and industrial markets; and Marsh Brothers Aviation, which is taking advantage of the grease-free technology of Thordon Bearings products and installing them into several different applications on airplanes.

In 2019, Sandy won The Elmar A. Sperry award.  This award recognizes his distinguished Engineering contribution, which has advanced the art of transportation, whether by land, sea, air or space, and is given by a representation of six leading Engineering Societies in the world.  He is the only resident Canadian engineer to receive it.

In 1849, Captain George Thomson (Sandy’s great-great-grandfather), emigrated from Berwick Upon Tweed, England, was awarded the position of lighthouse keeper of the Burlington Canal Lighthouse in Hamilton, Ontario.  For 29 years, Captain Thomson recorded his weather observations in a diary, which were so meticulous that they are considered the official records for weather during that time.

Sandy has been a passionate and enthusiastic supporter of the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group for many years and served as Chair of the Board of Directors from November 2016 to November 2021.

Bruce and Patti Hoyle

Bruce attended McMaster University and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and joined the Credit/Legal department at Simpson-Sears. He was a Director of the Canadian Credit Institute and continues to work in commercial finance at various companies including Chase Manhattan Bank, Deutsche Bank, GE Capital, and DLL/Rabobank, from which he recently retired.  

Patti was born and raised in Hamilton, attending the nursing program at Mohawk College.  She qualified as a Registered Nurse and worked for many years at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton. Since retiring she has pursued many interests, including volunteer work, dancing, and travelling. She and Bruce are long-term residents of Burlington.

Bruce and Patti are both long-standing members of the BCLG.  Patti has been involved with our group for over 15 years and her instinct for sales has been a great asset to our fund-raising activities.  Patti was elected as a Director in November 2016.  Bruce has a long history as both Treasurer and Director.

Robin McKee

Robin graduated from McMaster University, with a BA in History, and Mohawk College, with a certificate in Broadcast Television. He is also a qualified museum worker, with a Certificate in Museum Studies from the Ontario Museum Association. Robin has lived in Hamilton since 1971 and worked at CHCH-TV as an on-air audio technician man from 1978 until his retirement in 2009.

Robin has been the Chair and long-standing member of several local historical societies and heritage groups including the BCLG, for which he has served many terms as a Director.  Through his own business, Historical Perceptions, Robin leads “Stories in the Stones” tours of the historic Hamilton Cemetery and makes presentations on different aspects of Hamilton’s history and heritage. 

Robin was a contributing author to numerous publications on local history, including The Hamiltonians, Vanished Hamilton, Vol. I, II and III, First Here, plus two sequels (edited by the late Margarat Houghton), and Memories of the Beach Strip, by Gary Evans. At the Hamilton Heritage Day Awards in February 2018, he received the Reverend T. Melville Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award.  In October 2021, he published the first of four planned self-guided walking tours of the Hamilton Cemetery: Gone but Not Forgotten.

Chris Walker

Chris attended Cambridge University and graduated with a Masters degree in Engineering and Economics.  Subsequently the Royal Air Force sent him to Canada to train as a pilot. 

Chris worked for almost twenty years in construction, engineering and property development in the UK before moving to Canada to join Montreal Engineering as manager of project control.

The focus of his career has been in the planning and control of industrial, commercial and institutional developments in the UK, Canada and several other counties worldwide.  His last major assignment was to steer the AGRA Monenco group based in Oakville through the complexity of ISO 9000 quality certifications.  

Throughout his career Chris has been active in the professional affairs of engineering associations and was President of the AACE (Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering) in 1988, and the founding Chair of the ICEC (International Cost Engineering Council). 

On retirement from AGRA, he moved to Hamilton and ran the BDIC (Bishop’s Decennial Inspection Committee) of the Anglican Niagara Diocese for five years, as well as being a member of the advisory committee on Church buildings.  Chris has been a member of the BCLG since 2018 and was elected to the Board of Directors in November 2021.


Gloria Pfefferle, Membership Secretary

Gloria, now semi-retired from a publishing career, became interested in lighthouses when working part-time painting miniature lighthouses.  She has been a member of the BCLG since 2006 and since 2008 has served as Membership Secretary, maintaining an up-to-date membership roster, taking care of membership renewals, and recruiting new members.

Stewart Patch, Treasurer

Stewart graduated from Queens’ University with a degree in engineering and worked for Bell Canada as a network engineer in Ottawa for nearly 30 years.  He took early retirement in 2004 and in 2006 moved to Dundas to join his wife, Ann Gillespie.  He then began attending BCLG General Meetings and became more involved when his financial and computer programming skills were revealed.   In addition to serving as Treasurer since November 2015, and one term as Chair (the previous year),  Stewart also maintained the BCLG website for many years.  Since January 2021 he has been enrolled in the Honours Physics program offered by McMaster University.   

Recording Secretary (vacant since the November 14, 2021, AGM)


Ann Gillespie, Past Recording Secretary

Ann graduated from Carleton University with a Masters degree in the Canadian Studies program, specializing in the history of Canadian architecture and building technology.  She was subsequently employed by the City of Hamilton for 16 years as a Heritage Researcher/ Planner. After taking early retirement at the end of 2001, she became a member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Consultants (now CAHP – Ontario Chapter) and established a part-time consulting business under the name Gillespie Heritage Consulting, from which she retired in 2016.    

Ann is an active member of Hamilton Region Branch of the ACO (Architectural Conservancy of Ontario), which was resuscitated from a dormant phase in 2019.  Her primary responsibility is maintaining the branch’s web pages ( on the provincial website.  Since January 2021 she has also served as a volunteer member of the ACO’s Editorial Committee, which oversees the publication of its magazine ACORN and over many years has been a contributing author. 

Ann is a long-standing member of the BCLG and served as the group’s Recording Secretary from November 2015 to November 2021. She has since taken on the role of website administrator with the task of adding updated content to the new WordPress website, to be launched in early 2022. 

Larissa Fenn, HOPA Representative

Larissa is currently employed by the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority as Public Affairs & Corporate Secretary. 

To be added: more content from Larissa

She has been involved with the BCLG as an Executive Committee member representing HOPA since 2019.