Janice McMullen visited the Kaatza Station Museum in Lake Cowichan to take in a new exhibit about her father’s plane crash at Caycuse during the Second World War. (Photo courtesy Kaatza Station Museum)

Janice McMullen visited the Kaatza Station Museum in Lake Cowichan to take in a new exhibit about her father’s plane crash at Caycuse during the Second World War. (Photo courtesy Kaatza Station Museum)

Kaatza Museum in Lake Cowichan highlights dramatic tale of survival for Remembrance Day

Against all odds, Gainforth survived the crash

By Allen Lundgren

Seventy-eight years later, it was a much less dramatic entrance to the Cowichan Lake area for an Ontario woman on Oct. 4 than it had been for her father during the Second World War.

The Kaatza Station Museum in Lake Cowichan received special guests Janice McMullen and her daughter Teresa, as they arrived on a specific trip from Ontario to see first hand the newest museum display being readied for Remembrance Day 2021.

What made this trip and display so special for the family was to see artifacts removed from the remains from the Hawker Hurricane 5392 fighter plane, a craft flown by Janice’s father, Flight Sergeant R. Ford Gainforth that crash landed on March 6, 1943 in the Wilson Creek area of the Caycuse logging claim.

Against all odds, Gainforth survived the crash and although wounded, made his way through rugged terrain down from the mountaintops into the valley and onto Nitinat Lake where he discovered help and rescue. This incredible journey was to take Gainforth four days and has been documented in a book authored by Allan Lundgren entitled Connections – When World War Two came to the Cowichan Valley. This popular book is now in its second printing by the Kaatza Station Museum and currently available at the museum or on line through their website (https://www.kaatzastationmuseum.ca).

Other popular books available and authored by Lundgren at the museum include Many Flowers, a loggers story now in its third printing based on the history and influences of his father Henry Lundgren, along with a series of personal adventures and safety work done by the author.

The most recent book entitled Cowichan Lake Boats traces the influences the forest industry had on marine travel on Cowichan Lake and river onto personal pleasure craft seen in later years.

The Kaatza Station Museum has a good selection of books by various authors available that are related to the Lake Cowichan area.

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