Lady of the Lake for 1979 Carla St. Cyr is packed and ready to attend the Miss Pacific National Exhibition pageant — her last official function as Lady of the Lake. (Lake News/Aug. 20, 1980)

Lake Flashback: A new cop, a new recreation proposal, and maybe a new mill

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

“How healthy is Cowichan Lake fisheries?” A team of local volunteers was trying to find out just that a decade ago, according to the Lake Cowichan Gazette of Aug. 18, 2010.

“With their eyes on Cowichan Lake, a group of local volunteers is in the midst of a two-year cataloging of lake fisheries activity,” said the page 2 story. “Named the Creel Census Program, volunteers have been circling Cowichan Lake for the past year, polling fishermen in their boats and on shore about their activities and wants for Cowichan Lake. The Creel Census Program is being done in order to help provide the Ministry of Environment with an up-to-date account of fish stocks, health, and fishing activity, in order to help more effectively map out future goals and regulations.

“The program is currently in its second of its planned three years, with the Ministry of Environment deciding thereafter whether or not to continue the program.”

“This is the most comprehensive study we have ever done on Cowichan Lake,” Ministry of Environment Fisheries co-ordinator Tracy Michalski said, adding that it could also be the largest ever in the Cowichan Valley.

I wonder what resulted from that study?

The Aug. 18, 2010 edition also said goodbye to outgoing RCMP Cpl. Kurt Gottfried and hello to incoming Cpl. Warren Potter.

“My wife and family have wanted to move here for a few years, now,” Potter said, of the move out to Lake Cowichan. Potter, alongside a wife and son, came from his last posting in Ashcroft, a Central Interior town of about 1,800.

25 years ago

The front page of Aug. 23, 1995’s Lake News looks like what I’d think a small-town paper should look like. It’s got all of the elements. First up, “Float wins big at PNE”. The best of the best kind of small town news.

“Lake Cowichan’s Lady of the Lake float won a major award at the Pacific National Exhibition on the mainland Saturday. Participating in the big parade, in which major floats from many places take part, the Lake Cowichan float won for Best Development of a Theme.”

That’s it, that’s all for that story? Why? Because no doubt everybody around town already knew what the theme of their float was that year and everybody around town already knew who the Lady of the Lake was. I love it.

Moving on.

Also on the front page a less lively “Have you seen this man?” story.

“Warrants of attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and breaking and entering have been issued against two men involved in a fracas on Walker Road last Wednesday, reports Sgt. Ron [Merchant].”

I’m not sure what the rest of the story goes on to say because I only have the front page but it looks like a doozy. I do know the man the headline alludes to was named G.W. Newick. The rest? You could track it down at the museum.

And finally, from Aug. 23, 1995’s Lake News, “Sites for theatre, ball diamond are offered by the Council”.

This would have been big news at the time, I would think. I wouldn’t know, I was still in high school on the Mainland that year.

“Unveiling a major plan for the future, Council has proposed sites for a theatre for the Lakeside Players, a new Little League ball diamond and tennis courts to accommodate six doubles.”

See! I knew it would be a big deal!

“The land is already available for council and a plan has been drawn up. It’s in the Post Office. There is a catch to the proposal: everything comes on a ‘build your own facility’ basis.

“The land is owned by the Village and extends from behind the Payless card-holders station to the lakeshore, including an area back of Centennial Hall.”

“If eventually, all the plans for the area could be carried out it would represent a major recreational development including the Centennial Hall Arena, the proposed leisure pool adjoining the Arena, three ball diamonds, tennis courts, the theatre and museum.”

Anyone driving through town will see how that project turned out.

40 years ago

“‘Stoned’ motorists rankled by highway” was the headline of the Aug. 20, 1980 Lake News and it’s not what you think. Or maybe it is?

“Hundreds of names have been placed on various petitions in the area protesting the highways ministry’s method of paving Highway 18 between Lake Cowichan and Duncan.

“Flying stones have broken scores of windshields, headlights and pitted paint jobs on vehicles travelling the road during recent reconstruction. However one of the men in charge of highway paving in B.C. said the seal-coating done on this road was a standard procedure. He blamed the flying rock on speeding drivers.”

I’ve lived in the region for the better part of 15 years now and I remember this being an issue again much more recently than 40 years ago.

“Dick Callaghan, surface operations superintendent for the ministry, said many drivers whom he described at ‘clowns’ tore up much of the seal-coating because of excessive speed of careless driving.”

The story went on to say where drivers could make a claim against the ministry regarding the damage to their cars.

Also making the front page of the Aug. 20, 1980 Lake News was information about a New Island Shake mill.

“The Island Shake and Shingle Ltd. mill destroyed by fire probably will be rebuilt although a firm decision has not yet been made, a spokesman for the receiver-manager of the financially troubled firm said Tuesday.”

Also, congrats are in order, or rather were in order for Carla St. Cyr as she attended the Miss Pacific National Exhibition pageant — her last official function as Lady of the Lake for 1979.

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