‘Eileen Pilkington, right, and her daughter Brenda, in an entranceway to their Lions Christmas House yard, which is sprinkled with decorations. Every room in their house is covered with Christmas decorations, and Santa Claus may even pay them a visit. The house will open to the public Dec. 4, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through to Dec. 12.’ (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, Dec. 1, 2010)

‘Eileen Pilkington, right, and her daughter Brenda, in an entranceway to their Lions Christmas House yard, which is sprinkled with decorations. Every room in their house is covered with Christmas decorations, and Santa Claus may even pay them a visit. The house will open to the public Dec. 4, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through to Dec. 12.’ (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, Dec. 1, 2010)

Flashback: Christmas, ICBC relents, and a BCFP fine

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

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

“The Christmas spirit is very much alive and well in Cowichan Lake,” according to then-editor Tyler Clarke, in the Dec. 1, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette. Even a decade ago, the holidays were becoming a month-long affair as opposed to just a week or two.

“In the days leading up to the beginning of December, groups of volunteers worked at decorating Lake Cowichan’s main strip. For Eileen Pilkington and her family, preparations began way back in September, when they began unpacking Christmas decorations for their Lions Christmas House. After months of work, the Lions Christmas House was completed last week, with literally every room in the house at 318 South Shore Rd., covered with Christmas decorations. ‘We’ve always decorated for Christmas. Not as much as now, though,’ Eileen said. ‘When I say we do the whole house, we do the whole house!’

“After years of going all-out in Christmas decorating, Eileen finally decided to take her late husband Sam Pilkington up on his advice, and opened the house up to the public about five years ago. She’s done it ever since, raising between $400 and $800 per year for Cowichan Lake Community Services, through donations. Admission to the house is free.”

And what’s Christmas around the Lake without a little side-dish of icy streets?

Vehicles were slip sliding away this time a decade ago and police were reminding motorists to use caution.

“Although road conditions were quite slippery last week, Lake Cowichan RCMP Cpl. Krista Hobday reports that things weren’t as bad on the roads as they could have been. Only a few motor vehicle incidents in the Cowichan Lake area were reported to Lake Cowichan RCMP, in relation to slippery conditions, so far this winter season.”

25 years ago

Christmas was on its way according to the Dec. 6, 1995 edition of the Lake News.

“What has been a slow Christmas shopping season in Lake Cowichan swept into high gear for many stores on Friday. In the Chamber of Commerce ‘Midnight Madness’ sale, more than 20 stores participated, slashing prices, offering prizes and staying open until 10 p.m. That brought out hundreds of shoppers despite bad weather for it rained all evening, sometimes heavily.

“Pat Foster, president of the Chamber, told the Lake News she is ‘delighted’ with the results. And, she added ‘it’s only the beginning.’ Small shops as well as big ones reported phenomenal sales. Tyra Hauck at Ed’s Shop said: ‘I did as much business in one evening as in three weeks.’”

I wonder what shopping will be like this year, with the pandemic. Presumably no crowds, but hopefully more calling ahead and purchasing local to help keep the community afloat.

Also, it was a big week for the Village as “the first pour of concrete for the expanded Village reservoir took place Monday. The project, which will increase water capacity by 550,000 gallons will cost $600,000 — but it won’t cost taxpayers a cent, said Mayor Earle Darling.

“The project is expected to be finished and operational by March next. The cost is being paid partly by the Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Grant Program. The reservoir enhancement marks the biggest project undertaken by the Village since the sewer was built.”

Thank goodness for sewer and water infrastructure!

40 years ago

The Dec. 3, 1980 edition of the Lake News called it an “about-face”, “Lake Cowichan motorists will be getting the $50 ICBC deductible rebate after all as the highways ministry response to public pressure. The ministry announced today that it had changed its mind not to pay the deductible on claims for windshields broken on Highway 18.”

That was likely a big relief at the time. Many people had to replace their windshields after rocks from seal coating on the highway caused chips and cracks.

Also in the same edition, “B.C. forest Products, has been fined $4,000 in Duncan provincial court after pleading guilty to a charge laid by the Workers Compensation Board following investigation of the death of an employee at the Youbou mill last November.

“The company pleaded guilty Sept. 22 to the charge of ‘failure to instruct workers in the safe performance of their duties,’ one of three charges laid that claimed BCFP had failed to follow industrial health and safety regulations.

“WCB had begun investigation of the death of Patrick John Kretschmer immediately after his death last Nov. 10,” according to WCB information office Elizabeth Wright. “A final decision was delayed because the coroner had not yet held an inquest.”

Kretschmer was a weekend employee. He was 17.


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