Flashback: Christmas craft fair, telephone expansion, and school board budget increase

A look back into the history of the Cowichan Lake area

“Old and young, show respect for the war dead today, Remembrance Day, as the nation pays tribute to those men and women who died in the two great wars. Dave Aitken, past president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 210, pauses at the Cenotaph with Steven Crosby and Jennifer Lougheed, both three.” (Lake News, Nov. 11, 1981)

“Old and young, show respect for the war dead today, Remembrance Day, as the nation pays tribute to those men and women who died in the two great wars. Dave Aitken, past president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 210, pauses at the Cenotaph with Steven Crosby and Jennifer Lougheed, both three.” (Lake News, Nov. 11, 1981)

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

“Lions Club brings Christmas cheer into Centennial Hall” was a headline on the front page of the Nov. 9, 2011 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“Centennial Hall was a hive of activity on Nov. 5, as the Lions hosted their Christmas craft fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Upwards of 50 vendors attended the craft fair with people flocking from across the Lake Cowichan-area to browse the multitude of Christmas-themed goods the fair had to offer. ‘They’re all very talented craft people,’ said Lions member and craft fair coordinator, Eileen Pilkington.”

It was one of the first stories written by the Gazette’s new editor Dorian Geiger.

“I’m thrilled to be in your beautiful community and greatly anticipating the challenge of running the Gazette and enjoying what this town has to offer,” Geiger said in a page 2 letter to the community. “Only a week into my new position as editor, Lake Cowichan is already beginning to feel like home. I breathe mountains and ocean, so adjusting is going to be the easy part.”

25 years ago

An election was in the air this time in 1996, according to the Nov. 13, 1996 edition of the Lake News. “Polls open to vote 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 16,” reminded the paper.

I wish there was more on the front page about another story it teased: “She fought off a bear…to save her cookies”. I can only share this: “Michaela Davidson describes why and how she managed to out-wit a bear to save hundreds of cookies,” but alas, I only have the front page and we’ll never know… that is, unless you go to the museum and read the rest of the paper.

Another story teaser, “It’s children’s artwork and it’s been smashed to pieces”.

“The pumpkins at Sleepy Hollow have been vandalized. See story on page 7. I wish we had page 7 to learn more!

And finally, 25 years ago, “New Telephone System for Youbou and Caycuse” was a top headline on the front page.

“B.C. Tel has announced they will embark on installing a new telephone system for both Youbou and Caycuse in 1997.

“The announcement was made in a letter to CVRD following a concern issued by CVRD in regards to the Caycuse telephone system. Complaints had been received that the B.C. Tel service was unreliable; that the phones only worked part of the time.”

40 years ago

The school district’s budget was going up by almost 14 per cent, according to the Lake News of Nov. 11, 1981.

“Provisional estimate: $5.5 million school budget up 13.9%” was the headline. I wonder what that’d buy the school district today?

“The School District 66 board of school trustees at a special meeting Nov. 2 approved a provisional budget of $5,516,345 to cover the district’s operating expenses for 1981-82. The budget is up to 13.9 per cent over last year’s budget of $4,749,510.

“The budget is divided into nine sections: administration, instruction, operation, repairs and maintenance, conveyance of pupils, auxiliary services, non operating expenses, debt services, and current non-shareable capital.”

And finally, “Park expansion urged to create jobs for area” was the next biggest headline.

“The MLA for Cowichan-Malahat has asked that the provincial government expand Gordon Bay Park now, in order to provide jobs for the hard-hit Cowichan Lake area.

“Barbara Wallace has approached Lands, Parks and Housing Minister Jim Chabot and said ‘I urge, in the strongest possible terms, that your ministry move immediately to expand the Gordon Bay provincial park reserve on the other side of the lake. Both facilities are needed to accommodate the rapidly increasing tourist trade. Such a program, instituted now, would provide employment for some of the people who now find themselves suddenly unemployed. It would also do much to stimulate the immediate economic feature of the small businesses in Lake Cowichan.’

“Wallace explained to Chabot that the forest industry slump coupled with a failing timber supply in the Lake Cowichan area is resulting in ‘a severe economic crunch in the area’.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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