“Long-time Wilmer Gold photograph steward Al Lundgren speaks to the history and the challenges related to taking care of the massive IWA 1-80 archive, which includes upwards of 6,000 photographs that Kaatza Station Museum curator Barbara Simkins is currently registering.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, May 25, 2011)

“Long-time Wilmer Gold photograph steward Al Lundgren speaks to the history and the challenges related to taking care of the massive IWA 1-80 archive, which includes upwards of 6,000 photographs that Kaatza Station Museum curator Barbara Simkins is currently registering.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, May 25, 2011)

Flashback: Chronicling history, death, taxes, and housing

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:

Here’s a cool story from the Lake Cowichan Gazette of May 25, 2011. This one appeared on the front page of the paper and will still hold interest with readers today:

“Sometimes dangerous, always exciting; the Cowichan Lake area’s history has been well chronicled. This is, in large part, thanks to the efforts of well-known photographer Wilmer Gold. His photographs now line the walls of the Kaatza Station Museum’s Bell Tower School building, and were unveiled during a grand opening presentation at last weekend’s Heritage Days celebrations.

“You must go to the museum. You can see it a couple dozen times and still see new things,” Lake Cowichan Heritage Commission chair Pat Weaver said.

From Wilmer Gold’s camera to the International Wood-workers of America 1-80, union archives steward Al Lundgren took attendees on a journey through the photos’ past. As the home of the first Canadian chapter of the International Woodworkers of America, he said it only makes sense that the photo collection should be at Cowichan Lake.”

Also, then publisher Dennis Skalicky calmed the fears of Gazette subscribers noting “With the potential for a Canada Post strike looming, the Gazette would like to let local subscribers know that our local post office will not be affected. The local post office staff are not members of CUPW. Therefore, the post office will remain open and continue to deliver local mail.

“As a result, the Lake Cowichan Gazette will be in your post office box as normal. Out of town subscribers will be impacted by any strike action, and would not receive their papers in the mail. As always, the Lake Cowichan Gazette will be available for pickup at local retailers on Tuesday morning.”


News also arrived in the May 25, 2011 edition that the town was getting $100,000 to employ six people at the Cowichan Lake Education Centre. That was great news!

25 years ago:

It was not good news on the front of The Lake News of May 22, 1996. What was supposed to be a good time camping turned into a nightmare as a Victoria man fell over a 120-foot cliff and died.

“The Cowichan River, swollen with rain, claimed another life at Skutz Falls early Sunday morning. Spencer Christian Robertson, 24, a camper from Victoria, was reported by friends to have flipped over a 120-foot precipice about midnight.

“His body was recovered Monday by RCMP divers in a deep pool downstream from the campsite.

“He was one of a group of campers from Victoria spending their weekend in a tent pitched a few hundred feet from the trestle bridge just east of the foot of Mayo Road.”

That’s awful.

While it doesn’t rate compared to the loss of a human life, there was some good news on the front page as well, though, in the form of a tax break.

“For the third consecutive year, the Village Council passed a zero per cent increase in residential taxes for the 1996 budget.”

What we wouldn’t give today for three years of no hikes!

“How exactly this will effect local taxes is not yet certain as it is only the Village portion of the residential with a zero increase.”

Ah, always a catch!

“It doesn’t mean the tax bill will be less from the regional district or school district.”

Doh. A taxpayer can dream….

40 years ago:

The Lake News of May 20, 1981 announced some good news on the housing front.

“Housing starts in Village double last year’s at 20” was the headline and the story that followed went like this:

“The number of new housing starts in Lake Cowichan so far this year has already more than doubled the figure for all of 1980. According to Norm Shepherd, building inspector for the village, 27 permits have been issued to May 15, 20 for new homes and the remaining seven for additions. The total value of the permits is $531,700, he said. Shepherd said he issued only nine permits for new houses during 1980.”


The edition also featured a long story about one of the town’s early pioneers: Mrs. Gladys Howe (nee Lomas), who was “one of the first white children born in Lake Cowichan.”

“Gladys Lomas was born at the Riverside Hotel, then in one of its earlier incarnations, June 20, 1901. For many years, her family thought she was the first white child born here, but she later learned that ‘The Fraser girls’ had preceded her. Her father was a carpenter and when he was working at Lake Cowichan, the family stayed here.”

The story goes on and on and is far too long to report in this space, but it’s a fascinating look at the history of the region, so if you’ve ever got time, swing by the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives and ask for The Lake News of May 20, 1981 and read on!

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