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Flashback: Christmas hampers, foreshore leases, and a sign of the times

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
“From the Lakeside Players’ original, We’ll Meet Again , performed in 1987, now 10 years later the same play will be performed (for a third time) next month. Left to right: Kathleen Grass, Sally Miles, Helen Evans, Dorothy Morrow, Lucille Smith, Bertie Egan, Jeff Abbott, Jim Morrow, Andy Ferris, Mike Simkins, Marv Chater. Missing from photo is Lexi Bainas.” (Lake News, Oct. 29, 1997)

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

“Electoral Boundaries Commission will listen, hope local officials” led off the news of the day in the Lake Cowichan Gazette’s Oct. 24, 2012 edition.

“The Electoral Boundaries hearings that took place on Oct. 16 and 17, in Nanaimo and Victoria are finished and local politicians have had their chance to voice concerns over the proposed electoral boundary changes. Overall it seems that Mayor Ross Forrest, CVRD Area F director Ian Morrison, and MP Jean Crowder feel that they were heard and are optimistic that the commission will take their concerns into consideration. ‘I think there was 21 speakers or something,’ said Forrest. ‘And they weren’t all on our area, but it was pretty unanimous. Everybody that did speak [said] that Lake Cowichan shouldn’t be in a riding with Nanaimo; we should be in with the rest of the Cowichan. The guy that was the head of the three commissions, he’s a retired judge, and he said that they’d been hearing a bit about that Lake Cowichan shouldn’t be in that riding as well, so they’re listening to what’s being said’.”

Despite it being Halloween time, Christmas was on the mind of one particular group at the Lake this time 10 years ago.

“Preparing to fill hampers with Christmas cheer” was the headline and the story was this:

Christmas Hampers are coming up fast and Cowichan Lake Community Services will be providing a wholesome arrangement of food and goodies to brighten your holiday season. Hamper applications are available as of Nov. 14 and must be brought in to Cowichan Lake Community Services, in person, by Dec. 7. You must be registered at Community Services by Dec. 7 or you may not receive a hamper on Wed. Dec. 19. Organizers say they would not want to see anyone get forgotten or missed. Approximately 225 food hampers are assembled on Tuesday, Dec. 18 and distributed on Wednesday, Dec. 19.”

25 years ago

“Freeze requested on foreshore leases” topped the stories on the front of the Oct. 29, 1997 edition of the Lake News.

“Thanks to area directors, foreshore leases placed on waterfront property with wharves, may be put on hold. Following a meeting with Cowichan Lake area directors Joe Allan, Jack Waite and Shawnigan Lake director Bill Davies, TimberWest will request that Pacific Forest Products (PFP, who own the bottom of the Lake) put an interim freeze on the lease program until such time as TimberWest takes over ownership of PFP. The takeover target date is Nov. 15, 1997.

“Timberwest Vice President and Chief Forester, Don McMullan has also agreed that his company will make two other commitments to the directors: that once TimberWest assumes ownership they will review the foreshore lease program… and they will attempt a ‘win-win’ outcome, which will address the needs of local government and which will be fair to both the lessees in terms of the fees charged.”

The edition also featured headlines like “Policeman attacked by dog”, “Man facing sexual assault charges applied to live in Lake Cowichan”, “Search for three lost mushroom pickers, a success,” and “No tolerance for pipe bombs say local police.”

Here’s a bit of the dog attack story:

“A disturbance at a residence turned nasty for a local policeman who, upon arriving on a complaint, was attacked by a pit bull, and then confronted by a drunken man, who threatened the policeman. Sgt. Garry Poitras said the incident occurred Friday night. The policeman was able to use pepper spray on the dog, which repelled the dog and then used the same spray on a drunken man who confronted and threatened the policeman.”

As for the mushroom pickers, “A search for three youths lost in the woods while mushroom picking came to a happy ending last Tuesday when they were all found safe.” Good!

40 years ago

And at last, we return to the lake back in the early 80s for a look, specifically around Oct. 27, 1982 as the Lake News reports.

“K&R calls it quits here” was the headline topping the short story surrounded by a dark black box on the front page.

“Signs of the times for K & R food store bears bad news for shoppers and community at large. [There was a photo with signs saying ‘closing out’ beside the text]. Store, which took over after similar fate forced Overwaitea out, shut down after retail clerks union refused to accede to a request that wages be lowered to combat rising operation costs at Lake Cowichan store.”

That was a bummer, but here’s a little good news from back in the day.

“Ravine — a dump no more” was the header.

“A ravine in the Hundred Houses subdivision — just above Stanley Gordon School — which has been used as a garbage dump by some local residents will be transformed into a park by village works crews. Village works superintendent Don Bokic said last week that workers were thinning out a few of the trees and tidying up the area so that it could be used as a park in the future. He said he hoped that people wouldn’t dump garbage there any more as it would negate the village’s efforts.”

Otteley Boyd, left, and John Padgen of the Kaatza Historical Society, examine window frames which will be used in renovation of the old CPR railway station at Saywell Park. The society held a well-attended open house at the museum recently, to show the public what work has been done and to discuss the future.” (Lake News, Oct. 27, 1982)

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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