“Participants of the Sunday, Sept. 11, Terry Fox Run in Lake Cowichan start their 10 kilometre trek at Saywell Park.” (Lake Cowichan Gazette/Sept. 14, 2011)

“Participants of the Sunday, Sept. 11, Terry Fox Run in Lake Cowichan start their 10 kilometre trek at Saywell Park.” (Lake Cowichan Gazette/Sept. 14, 2011)

Flashback: Chickens and dogs, amalgamation woes, Terry Fox run, house prices

A look back into the history of Lake Cowichan and 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

“Lake Cowichan’s Official Community Plan sent to council” was the headline of the Sept. 14, 2011 Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“The town’s Official Community Plan is now in council’s hands. With satisfaction in the air, the town’s Advisory Planning Commission met Thursday, Sept. 8, to work out a few lingering kinks in the plan before sending it to council. One lingering kink was with regard to comprehensive development permit areas for the J.H. Boyd property and Palsson Elementary School. The permit areas were some of the least-supported proposed changes to the plan, and the commission was accepting of the public’s feedback. Another contentious issue with the plan has been with regard to animal husbandry, or the allowance of backyard chickens.”

That chicken issue was just resolved when council set a new bylaw last month permitting them.

From chickens to dogs, “dog policy considered by mayor and council” was the headline on Page 2.

“The town’s elected officials discussed the drafting of a new policy. Currently, the town’s chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez clarified, ‘Dogs are allowed in parks, but they must remain on a leash.’ Although the town’s elected officials expressed an interest in tightening the town’s bylaw/policy to some degree, they were also unanimous in their want for residents to be able to walk dogs in town parks. Few people don’t pick up after their dogs, and it’s those few that make a bad name for everyone else. ‘I want the option to walk my dog on a leash,’ councillor Tim McGonigle said. ‘I would be very angry if I couldn’t walk my dog in a park,’ councillor Bob Day said, in agreement.

25 years ago

“Legion brings in 50 years” made the front page of the Sept. 11, 1996 Lake News.

“It was more than they were hoping for when over 500 people filtered through the Royal Canadian Legion this past weekend to take in the 50th Anniversary celebrations. Ernie Spencer, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #210 said they had easily 300 people turn out on Saturday alone, which was their best day.”

Also 25 years ago, Ron Kenyon wrote “To fire or to retire after amalgamation.” It was the biggest story on the front page and it was top of mind for many.

“How do you get rid of high-priced help you no longer need? That could be one of the problems facing the new School District 79 which is scheduled to have its first meeting Dec. 2.”

Remember after a long and drawn-out process, the Duncan and Lake Cowichan districts were forced to merge to cut costs? Well it finally happened.

“The purpose of amalgamation is to cut costs. A prime cost is labour. With the two districts merging, some top jobs will be redundant. When Jan Pullinger, MLA, attended a meeting of SD66 Education Committee on Monday she was asked: what happens to administrators and perhaps teachers who are no longer needed?

“There are two traditional ways of dealing with such a problem, pointed out School Superintendent Brian Hoole. The first is to fire them, in which case the severance pay could be considerable. The other is to offer early retirement incentives. It seemed as through early retirements would be favoured, and is even expected but there has been no word from the government. As a result ‘no one is moving,’ pointed out John Clark, who is the transitional co-ordinator for the amalgamation. Senior staff are holding on to their jobs.”

So much for saving money?

40 years ago

The Lake News of Sept. 16, 1981 had the same type of photo of the Sept. 14 Gazette of 2011, proving just how important the Terry Fox Run has been to the community over the years.

“The ‘Marathon of Hope’ spirit was strong in Lake Cowichan Sunday, Sept. 13, as about 150 people ran, walked or hobbled around a 10km course, in honour of one-legged runner Terry Fox. The participant with the fastest time was Brian Schwab, a Grade 10 student at Lake Cowichan Secondary School, who breezed through the course in a mere 37 minutes. Others took longer, according to organizer Wes Thomas. The last to finish was five-year-old Gerry Harrison, who completed the course with his mother after three hours of hard work.” Good on ya Gerry!

In other news, Lexi Bainas reported on the housing boom in the Cowichan Lake area, noting “house prices remain high here despite peak of boom.”

“Prices for 21 family homes were picked at random from three newspapers and compared. The average price for the 21 homes listed last fall was…” you’re not going to believe this, $48,614.

If only!

“It is significant that although the houses were chosen completely at random, not one was priced over $80,000. There were seven houses available for less than $40,000. That was in September 1980.”

By February 1981, however, things were more expensive.

“The average price for a home listed then was $57,178.” Three homes were listed over $100,000 and “the number of houses available at less than $40,000 had dropped to three.”

By September 1981, things were even more expensive when looking at 21 random listings, with “seven properties listed at over $80,000 and again three of these were listed at more than $100,000.”

The average price then was $81,123.

What a difference a year made… and what a difference 40 years have made!


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