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Flashback: Water, fire, land, and…golf

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
“50 years for Honeymoon Bay: On the float from left to right: Bailey Hayward, Shailynn Lee, Jessica Martens, Jessica Vatcher, Rona Vatcher designed and made this float for the parade, with the help of others.” (Lake News, Aug. 6, 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

“Accident closes hwy and sends one to hospital” was the top headline on the Aug. 1, 2012 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“On July 21, Lake Cowichan RCMP and the Lake Cowichan Fire Department responded to an accident on Highway 18. A single vehicle heading westbound veered left into the ditch but did not hit any oncoming traffic. Corp. Krista Hobday of the Lake Cowichan RCMP says that it is suspected that the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The passenger was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, but was released later the same day. The driver sustained only minor injuries.”

Whoa, that was lucky.

Also on the front page, water issues were being discussed.

“The room was packed at the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship meeting on July 29 in the basement of the Legion building in Lake Cowichan. Those in the audience included Mayor Ross Forrest, Coun. Jayne Ingram, and Area I and F directors Pat Weaver and Ian Morrison, respectively. Members came to hear project and financial reports, vote in the election of the society’s president, vice president and board, and to enjoy a presentation by Dave Polster and Genevieve Singleton of Polster Environmental Services.”

Page 2 featured news for potential grow operators:

“Getting away with a grow operation in Lake Cowichan might not be so easy in the near future. Mayor Ross Forrest and council gave a third reading to a new safe premises respecting health and safety bylaw at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, July 24. Lake Cowichan residents could face a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 if convicted of a grow operation on their premises, or if their premises are determined to be unsafe or hazardous.”

25 years ago

“Ministry agrees with ‘skutz falls’ plan for Mayo Lake” was the top headline of 25 years ago this week. The headline appeared in the Aug.6, 1997 edition of the Lake News. Susan Lowe reported:

“The Ministry of the Environment has received $50,000 of Forest Renewal B.C. Money to reconfigure Mayo Lake in Skutz Falls to stop overflow, but when Ministry officials arrived to lower the level of the Lake they met with anger from some Skutz Falls residents.

“The original idea the Ministry had was to remove a beaver dam at Mayo Lake, replace it with a weir while also making the Lake handicap accessible with fishing platforms. ‘That is a man-made lake and stocked twice a year. That is why it is there,” Al Grass, president of the Valley fish and Game Club said.

“The problem is that Mayo Lake had been known to flood Mayo Road and Ministry officials have said that for the reconfiguration of the Lake to be safe, the water level had to be lowered three feet — which they did.

“‘The Ministry had to lower the level in order to work on the dam,’ Grass said adding that the intention was never to maintain the level of the Lake at that level, that the level would rise again in the winter.”

From water to fire: “Fire at Nitinaht Lake doesn’t pose threat” was another headline in the same edition.

“Sparks from a chainsaw ignited an industry-related fire near Nitinaht Lake last Tuesday. Within 10 minutes of the report, a Forest Service DC airtanker and its birddog air craft were airborne from the Abbotsford Tanker Base to asses the fire.

“The fire was quickly controlled by the TimberWest ground crew, and after assessing the fire, the Forest Service Air Attack officer recalled the DC 6 back to Abbotsford without taking action on the fire. The Martin Mars made several drops on the fire aided by two helicopters also hired by TimberWest. The final fire size was .5 hectares.”

40 years ago

It was the Lake News edition of Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1982 that featured not one, not two, not three, but four stories on the front page including “Dawn aims for crown” a story about “local golfing sensation” Dawn Coe.

She was teeing off that day in the first of four rounds to determine the Canadian Women’s Amateur National Championship.

“Coe, winner in July of the provincial crown is part of a four-woman team seeking to better their second-place position last year in the same championship. This year, the four rounds will be a little bit more special as Coe competes as B.C. champ.”

Another headline: “Price top issue as H.B. talks hot”.

“The strategy for the townsite of Honeymoon Bay continues late Tuesday with negotiations between residents at T.A.L. developments Inc. taking on marathon proportions. Price per lot was the issue as the Honeymoon Bay Residents Committee and T.A.L. haggled for more than three hours in the IWA hall in Duncan.

“Meanwhile, conclusion of a deal between T.A.L. and Western Forest Products Ltd. appeared to be virtually a certainty as only a few final changes were being finalized on Tuesday. The final figure is $1.4 million for the property with initial payments totalling $300,000 and a final payment of $1.1 million to be made by Dec. 31, 1983.”

”Stylized map of Lake Cowichan is artist’s impression of the business centre in the village. Gaylia Nelson conceived this map which has received enthusiastic response from people buying them. The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce purchased the copyright for the sketch and sells the maps through various merchants in town.” (Lake News, Aug 4, 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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