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Flashback: Walk cancelled, church anniversary, incoming residents

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area

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

There was massive community upset as “Lack of registration halts [the] Great Lake Walk this year,” according to reporter Don Bodger in the Sept. 11, 2013 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“The 2013 Great Lake Walk and Ultra Marathon, set for Sept. 21, has been cancelled due to a lack of entries.

“The 56-kilometre event around Cowichan Lake has been a fixture on the calendar in late September since 2002. It was an event that created great teamwork from the volunteers in communities around the lake to put it on.

“‘It was kind of looming,’ Joan Hieta, chair of the Great Lake Walk Society, said of the cancellation. ‘It was one of those years. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.’”

In other news of the day, the rain finally came.

“Recent rains doused a local drought, and helped avert another fall salmon kill, a local conservationist says. ‘This rain is really welcome,’ Joe Saysell of Friends of the Cowichan said Friday after a downpour that yielded about an inch in late August. ‘The temperature in the river was so high, but this cooled it down — it was 21.5 degrees C and now it’s 18 C so that’s a real welcome thing to happen.’ Coupled with provincial permission to store more water behind Cowichan Lake’s weir this summer, to help provide water for fall salmon spawning, Saysell signalled the fish have more of a fighting chance.”

25 years ago

“Two young moms work on big plans for Dashwood Park” was the top headline on the front of the Sept. 16, 1998 Lake News.

“A plan to install a piece of playground equipment in Dashwood Park for toddlers up to the age of 12 and be accessible to handicapped children will be on display at the Mildred Child Annex during the Mayor’s Open House in September. Two local woman, Zerena Caplin and Denise Lawler who call themselves, Friends of Dashwood Park, were at last week’s Council meeting presenting their ideas to members of Town Council. Dashwood Park, located on the corner of Boundary Road and Somenos Road in Lake Cowichan has been left in its natural state since the Dashwoods — then local residents, gave the land to the Village of the day, as a gift with hopes it would be used as a park.

“The women have budgeted $25,000 which they said will include taxes. They hope to raise the money through grants and fundraising with much of the work volunteered by the community. Councillor Hazel Beech who has been assisting the women admitted that there has been some negative responses by nearby neighbours to the plan.”

It was also noted in the same paper that Sept. 19 would be the 50th anniversary of St. Louis de Montfort Church, the Catholic church in Lake Cowichan.

Also in the mix was a note about store vacancies being high.

“Want to open a store? You’ve got lots of choice for a location in Lake Cowichan. For the first time in memory there are about 20 empty commercial premises on South Shore Road, the main street.”

40 years ago

“Youbou mill increases shifts” was a welcome headline on the front page of the Sept. 14, 1983 Lake News.

“Part of the Youbou sawmill will return to three shifts, starting Oct. 3, Clare Stoney, manager of the B.C. Forest Products operation, announced Friday. The addition of a graveyard shift in the “‘A’ mill will mean that 50 more employees will be working at Youbou starting next month. Stoney said the decision to increase the number of shifts is based on a desire to increase productivity at the operation and make the mill’s product more competitive. The extra shift will run 170 days per year out of 250. The shortfall will be spread over the year with a 10 day layoff at Christmas, 10 days at Easter and 60 days during the summer — a schedule that will allow holidays at these popular periods, he said.”

Here’s a heart-warming story to end the Flashback. Atop the Lake News masthead of the Sept. 14 edition was a story declaring “Lake Cowichan nice place, so they’ll move here” and the story was about exactly that.

“A visitor from England has been so impressed with the courteous treatment he’s received since arriving in Lake Cowichan that he will move to the area next year. Harold B. McManus of Northumberland, 75, came into The Lake News office this week to express his appreciation for the way he and his wife have been dealt with here.

“As one example, he said he and his wife had wandered off course while walking in the Grant’s Lake area one day and could not seem to find their way. A sympathetic resident — who turned out to be village alderman Hazel Beech — picked them up and took them to their destination, waiting until she was sure that everything was all right. ‘That wouldn’t have happened in England — a local councillor picking up two unknowns off the street and helping them like that,’ he said. McManus said that he felt there was ‘a very high standard of courtesy’ among local business people, too.

“‘This is a good place to be and that’s why we’re coming to live here,’ he said.”

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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