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Westminster’s Wig-Wag Weatherman

August 27, 2016

Peele's shop and flagstaff - Columbia St - 1888In the summer of 1879 Adolphus Peele, the Dominion Meteorologist in New Westminster, erected a flag pole in front of his drug store on Columbia Street, topped off by a weather vane.

It was a highly visible marker, as shown in this photo looking over Columbia Street in the direction of Brownsville.

“The flagstaff originally erected by Mr Lowe, has been removed to the front of Chief Astronomer Peele’s Observatory on Columbia Street, where it will bear aloft a well-poised vane, to the intent that everybody, politicians included, may be able to tell exactly how the wind blows.”

Peele was not only the local weatherman for the Dominion of Canada, he was a daily contributor to the international network of reporting weather stations organized by Albert J Myer of the United States Army Signal Corps.

AJ Myer was the inventor of the sight signalling system known as “wig-wag.” Distinct from semaphore, it was a form of aerial telegraphy.

When Myer died in August 1880, Peele paid tribute with the more traditional symbolic display.

“Half-Mast — Mr Peele, Observer U.S. Signal Service, yesterday hoisted an American flag at half-mast, in respect to the memory of Gen. Myer, of the Signal Service, who died a few days ago.”

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