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Flashback: Deadly flying rocks, school trustee campaign battles, islands for sale

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
“Almost as busy as Santa, Michaela Davidson’s creative assistant, Jan Riishede, helps Micheala prepare for the Gallery’s Christmas House planned for this weekend.” (Lake News, Nov. 12, 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

“Freak flying rock kills Duncan driver on Highway 18” was a headline that nobody wanted to read, and nobody expected to read 10 years ago this week in the Lake Cowichan Gazette of Nov. 14, 2012.

“Gregory Thomas Howlett, 52, of Duncan has been identified as the person killed Wednesday when his pickup truck’s windshield was hit by a rock tossed by a logging rig, near Skutz Falls turnoff along Hwy. 18. Police are looking for the logging-truck driver whose rig — headed in the opposite direction of Howlett’s pickup at around 9:30 a.m. — may have thrown the rock that became a big, deadly bullet.

“’The piece of rock that went through his windshield, and hit him, was about the size of a standard building brick,’ Barbara McLintock of the B.C. Coroners Service said of the tragedy about 500 metres west of Skutz Falls Road. ‘This was truly a totally freak accident.’

In other news of the day, the speed limit was staying at 50km/h on North Shore Road.

“North Shore Road speed limit will stay at 50 kilometres [per hour] until Mayor Ross Forrest and town council can look at budgeting for a revitalization project in 2013. This was the decision at Tuesday’s meeting, Nov. 6. ‘We did remove the sign that says 50 km at the cross walk on Wilson and North Shore Road,’ said Nagi Rizk, superintendent of Public Works. ‘And we relocated that sign west of 275 North Shore Road.’ North Shore Road is still a 50 km zone all the way up to Johel Bros. property before the intersection with the Youbou Highway, but Rizk hopes that the removal of the sign helps to eliminate confusion at the crosswalk at Wilson Road.”

25 years ago

“Goat Island asking price $3.1 million” was the front page header on the Nov. 12, 1997 edition of the Lake News.

“Mystery is swirling around the purchase of eight islands dotted around Cowichan Lake. A group, mostly from Duncan, working anonymously through a numbered company, had paid an undisclosed price for them reports Baycedar Realty Inc. of Duncan.

“The eight islands and two others not included in the sale, were owned by Pacific Forest Products Ltd., which was itself recently sold. In what may have been one of its last actions, PFP sold the islands.

“What will happen to them now is part of the mystery. One of the few things definitely known is that they are being offered for sale for $3.1 million.”

Apparently the new owners wanted to flip the islands to a local or provincial government body for use as a public domain or park.

“…the new owner has decided to make them available for sale as a package only. This option, for an undisclosed period, will allow local and provincial levels of government the opportunity to pursue the purchase.”

Also in the same edition, “Area I director discovers no fire protection for some” was a disturbing headline.

“Pay more taxes and live in a protected area or save some money but have to call in the forest company if your house catches fire. This is the decision some residents of Area I will be making in the near future.

“Residents from Maple Grove Campsite to Wardroper Bridge in Area I are outside Youbou fire department’s protection boundary. This is a technicality that area I (Youbou/Meade Creek) director Jack Waite discovered recently when he was doing some hydro work in that area. Being outside the fire protection area means all sorts of liability issued for the Youbou Fire Department if they attend a fire in the area. And now, if residents opt to remain out of the protected zone, they would have to call in forestry to fight their house fires, Waite said.

40 years ago

All sorts of drama at a school board meeting meant a front page story for Lexi Bainas in the Nov. 10, 1982 edition of the Lake News. The headline was “Intense candidates for school board clash at meeting” and the story went as follows:

“Candidates clashed Monday evening at a forum for electioneering school trustees and regional district representatives. The all-candidates meeting, sponsored by the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, attracted almost 100 residents. They came out to hear what the candidates had to say, and they got an earful.

“…It was during the trustee debates that the exchanges became heated.”

The issue for incumbent trustee Buck Hollindrake was that co-incumbents Jean Brown and Bill Routley were publicly campaigning as a team.

“Hollingdrake took strong exception to this idea. He claimed that it reduces the choices available to the voters.”

Routley replied that if voters didn’t opt to vote for him, they should still vote for Brown.

In other news of four decades ago, “Two survive truck plunge” was a headline.

“Albert K. Smith, 50 of Ladysmith and his 17 year old son escaped serious injury when the truck they were riding in went off the road and down a steep bank on Highway 18 outside Lake Cowichan. Police said that the steering failed on the 1978 Ford pickup and it plunged down the bank.”

The damage was done to the passenger’s side, where the teen was sitting but he was not hurt. He had been wearing his seatbelt.

“Artist and orca… Gus Galbraith, an increasingly acclaimed local sculptor, polished sculpture of killer whale in his workshop on the Cowichan River. Galbraith is one of the numerous artists whose works are being auctioned this week at a B.C. Wildlife Federation fundraising dinner in Vancouver. Twenty pieces of art, including a fish sculpted by Galbraith, are being auctioned.” (Lake News, Nov. 10, 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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