Mr. and Mrs. Stan Neil of Youbou were all smiles after their June wedding in 1979. The couple, both 71 years of age, met at an OAP function and decided not long after to tie the knot. Each had been married before, and had an instant combined family of 13 children. (Lake News June 20, 1979)

Lake Flashback: 30th anniversary MD tourney, pending business tax revolt, and wildcat strikes heat up the woods

Lots of summer action in Junes of yesteryear

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas 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:

“MD fundraiser at Mesachie Lake is second to none” said the Lake Cowichan Gazette of June 17, 2009.

“After 30 years and more than half a million dollars raised for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, there is always something amazing about the annual Mesachie Lake MD Ball Tournament and Auction, which runs Thursday through Sunday at the Sky Dome.”

Whether it’s a $6,000 bid for two muscular dystrophy decals or Cathy King chanting “Ole, ole, ole, Cow Bay,” the event is a tradition second to none anywhere at Cowichan Lake.

It was originally organized as a ball tournament in 1979 to raise money for an upgrade to the Mesachie Lake fire hall and continued for a few years, when its focus changed to becoming a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

It became personal when Nick and Sherry Sohye from Mesachie Lake learned their son Adam had muscular dystrophy. Shortly after that, Duncan fireman Doug Robertson and his wife Debbie discovered their son Grady also had MD.

“When we found out about our son, Adam, and Doug and Debbie’s son, Grady, participating halls adopted the boys as their own and the tourney took on a whole new meaning,” recalled Sherry Sohye. “Everyone has since been committed to raising money to fight muscular dystrophy and as some of us have gotten older, new members have banded together to keep the cause alive.”

For Nick Sohye, who is currently Mesachie Lake’s fire chief, the weekend fundraiser never ceases to blow him away.

“It’s just amazing,” he said. “The support we get, I just can’t say enough about it.”

The 30th Annual Mesachie Lake MD Ball Tournament included an auction and Jeff Abbott was calling for bids. “It is the best part of the weekend for me,” said Abbott. “It’s definitely one of the highlights of the year for me.”

About halfway through the auction, eight-year-old Kalliana King of Cowichan Bay will be getting her flamingo pink hair shaved off to raise extra money, because her friend Adam has MD. Her goal is $500. Kalliana is the daughter of Cathy King, a longtime supporter of the Mesachie Lake MD Ball Tournament and Auction.

“She’s done awesome and I can tell you she’s exceeded her original goal of $500,” said Cathy. “I’m very proud of her and the support she has received has been absolutely overwhelming.”

For Cathy, who has been attending the event since she was 16 years old and has put her own stamp on the event, it’s a very special weekend. She has become best friends with Adam Sohye and couldn’t imagine not attending.

“The reason this weekend is so special is because it feels like coming home every year,” she said. “The sense of family, bonds and emotions of this weekend goes far beyond the baseball. The people who attend this tournament come with a passion, a huge passion to raise money to help fight a disease that people we know and love are affected with.

“It’s the most heart warming, amazing weekend you could attend. Where else do you see hugs, laughs, tears, camaraderie, and baseball and people spending money in a fun loving way that tops in the $40,000 range? It’s truly amazing and it’s really our Mesachie Family.”

25 years:

“Business tax revolt pending?” asked The Lake News of June 22, 1994.

Hoo boy! What was up?

“Village council erupted last week as a delegation of nearly 50 people led by two former aldermen was denied an opportunity to present its case. The group’s spokesmen were Rod Peters and Jack Holliston.”

Peters was allowed to speak briefly, though 14 questions that would have been presented by the group were not permitted. Peters said, “We won’t be paying business tax.” Noting the village has no bylaw enforcement officer, he said, “Better get one.”

The delegation came to complain about increases of up to 500 per cent in the business licences in Lake Cowichan. It also wanted to ask about other things.

Members of council present were Mayor Earle Darling and councillors Leon Portelance, Gary Gunderson, and Jack Peake. Coun. Jean Brown was away.

Peters said the group will be watching everything council does in future.

“That’s a promise, not a threat,” he said.

In a separate box on the front page, The Lake News listed the 14 questions, which included such items as: “What is the village’s reason for the exorbitant increase in business licence fees?” and many questions about how much property developers were charged, why, and for what. There were also concerns about parking zones in town, the need for a community plan involving future development and lots more.

Three days after the meeting, Darling told The Lake News that he wanted a meeting with spokesmen for the group — Holliston and Peters — to see if an agreement could be reached.

40 years:

The woods were heating up June 20, 1979 but it was labour that was sparking the conflagration, not carelessly thrown cigarettes.

“Two small dissident groups of wildcat strikers shut down woods operations and both major mills operations in the Cowichan Lake area this week in defiance of their headquarters,” said The Lake News.

Late Tuesday, officials of Local 1-80 of the International Woodworkers of America were making urgent appeals to maverick unionists who slapped up a roughly manned picket line at the entrance of British Columbia Forest Products mill property in Youbou.

Another picket line set up at Mesachie Lake prevented woods workers and mill workers at Western Forest Products’ Honeymoon Bay operation from reaching their places of work.

The BCFP protest which sparked the other wildcat at WFI effectively shut down the Youbou mill since midnight Monday. WFI mill has been unmanned since 8 a.m. Tuesday…In Duncan a union local spokesman said that picket lines “were not authorized. Some people feel that negotiations are not going the way they want them to go,” IWA business agent Ken McEwan said Tuesday.

“We are trying to get the picket lines lifted. It is not the strategy of the negotiating committee at this time.”

McEwan acknowledged that the work stoppages were being forced by a minority in the union.

“They felt that the initial offer of the forest company negotiators wasn’t good enough. They felt there should have been more money on the table. They don’t want to listen to the strategy of the negotiating committee. They feel the strategy is wrong.”

The pickets at both locations turned back the mill workers plus wood workers at Caycuse, Gordon River, Nitinat, and a few MacMillan Bloedel workers at Franklin River.

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