“Home near Skutz Falls burns while firemen fume over water shortage.”

“Home near Skutz Falls burns while firemen fume over water shortage.”

Flashback: A rescue, a rain storm and rip-off

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old newspapers with the assistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog your memory, give you that nostalgic feeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

On the front of the March 28, 2012 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette, “73 years at the place he loved” was a feature about long-time Laker Tom Gordon who joined his wife in the Good Place this time a decade ago.

“When the rare honour of Freeman of the Town of Lake Cowichan was bestowed upon long-time Lake Cowichan resident Tom Gordon in 2004, it followed an accumulation of years of untiring dedication and service to this community and his fellow citizens. Civic duty was always a labour of love for Tom. He never tired of contributing to the well being of the community he lived in for 73 years. Tom (Thomas Harley Gordon) died last Wednesday in Duncan at the age of 98.

“Tom was known as a man whose family, friends, community and country were of utmost importance to him. Throughout his long life he earned the respect of many who recognized him as a honourable man whose word, or handshake, was all that was needed. He lived his life the only way he knew how — as an honest, hard working, loyal and trustworthy man who chose and maintained a high standard and principled way of life.”

In other news, “A lesson in preparation” was the page 3 story that reminded us all it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“A group of Duncan teens who found themselves stranded in the wilderness for two days are fortunate to have survived ‘relatively unscathed,’ police say. The five teenagers went four-wheeling in deep snow on Monday, driving a logging road known as the McLure Mainline.

The group became stranded in a remote wilderness area when their truck ran out of gas. ‘With no emergency equipment such as candles, blankets, appropriate clothing, food or water, they spent the first night in the truck,’ a statement released by Lake Cowichan RCMP Cpl. Warren Potter said. ‘As there is no cell coverage in this area they were unable to summon assistance.” One of the males, however, eventually walked to Caycuse and called his father.’”

When the usual rescue teams couldn’t reach the teens, the Mid-Island Sno-Blazers Club were called in and eventually found them.

‘People have to remember that they are in the wilderness when they are out here and it is real life, not a television show,’ says Wilson. In this instance he says the kids were not dressed warm enough for being in the woods. He is pleased that there was a happy ending to this event, but says in a situation like this, you are better to remain in your vehicle.”

25 years ago

The CVRD’s tax requisition to the Town of Lake Cowichan was up by 17 per cent, according to the Lake News of March 26, 1997.

Susan Lower reported that “The CVRD tax requisition to the Town of Lake Cowichan is in for 1997, being approved at last week’s CVRD budget meaning and it’s an increase of $40,760 or 17.68 per cent over 1996. The 1996 requisition was $230, 524 and this year it has climbed to $271,284.

“The majority of the requisition is money collected from the Town of Lake Cowichan to pay for those items funded by the Town of Lake Cowichan, Area F and Area I.

“’The main reason we are seeing this high increase is because of the Liquid Waste Management Plan and the new Arena Floor,’ director of Area F (Skutz Falls/Cowichan South) Joe Allan said Monday.”

A huge rain event also plagued the Cowichan Lake region this week 25 years ago.

“Creeks swell and streets flood with seven inches of rainfall over two days” reported the headline.

“The heavy rains are believed to have hit fish stocks very hard in the Cowichan watershed,” it said. “Last week’s storm swelled creeks and flooded roads. The community of Cowichan Lake had seven inches of rainfall over a two day consecutive period. ‘When you add that to all the snow melting and the runoff from the mountains, I’m actually surprised it (flooding) wasn’t worse,’ Ed Gilman, town administrator told the Lake News.

40 years ago

A water shortage caused great grief in Lake Cowichan 40 years ago as “Firemen [stood] helpless are blaze razes home.”

“Firemen were virtually helpless Sunday when a fire destroyed a home near Skutz Falls early in the morning of the first day of spring.

“The home, owned by Allan Haslam and Nancy Skene, was razed as Lake Cowichan volunteer firemen struggled to contain the blaze with inadequate water supplies.

“There were no injuries as the only occupants — Haslam and Skene — fled the burning home with only a few possessions. The house was insured but there was no immediate value placed on the loss, according to Skene.”

The story went on to say the firefighters had to keep making trips into Lake Cowichan to fill up the tanker trucks in an attempt to extinguish the fire consuming the 3.5-storey cedar structure, but the house was “completely destroyed”.

And finally, “school trustees have expressed concern that the recently announced formula for financing education will force this district into a difficult position. When discussing the new budget draft to fit the provincial restraint guidelines, at the school board’s finance committee meeting March 16, trustee Bill Routley said he thought the government was being ‘very unfair’ to School District 66, and other similar districts.

“‘I feel like a man who has had a gun put to his head and his wallet lifted,’ he said.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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“They are doing it for a friend, selling daffodils for the Canadian Cancer Society to raise money for research. Members of the Lake BloomGarden Club thought it only fitting that they sell the daffodils in the Cowichan Lake area, as the flowers go so well with the Bloomer’s Delightfully Daffy project. This group of ladies raised double the money over last year, raising $1,200 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Left to right are: Krysty Thomson, Rinda Munslow, Eunice Sheilds, Maureen Loebus, and Terry Hill.” (Lake News, March 26, 1997)

“They are doing it for a friend, selling daffodils for the Canadian Cancer Society to raise money for research. Members of the Lake BloomGarden Club thought it only fitting that they sell the daffodils in the Cowichan Lake area, as the flowers go so well with the Bloomer’s Delightfully Daffy project. This group of ladies raised double the money over last year, raising $1,200 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Left to right are: Krysty Thomson, Rinda Munslow, Eunice Sheilds, Maureen Loebus, and Terry Hill.” (Lake News, March 26, 1997)