Three of the helpers from Walt’s Drivein posed for a picture in 1994. Shown, from left, are, Elmer Tenney (Walt Haldorson’s father-in-law, who helped build the place), Sylvia Haldorson (Walt’s wife), and Ellen Johnson (Walt’s sister, who worked at the cafe for 17 years).

LAKE FLASHBACK: Boat patrols coming, farewell to a landmark, and hopes for high school are all on the menu

High school accreditation, the need for ‘eyes’ on Cowichan Lake, and closing of Walt’s Drivein top news

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:

Back in early April of 2009, the Lake Cowichan Gazette announced, “Lake RCMP detachment will have its own boat for patrols.”

The Lake Cowichan RCMP were definitely be trying to increase their boat patrols on Cowichan Lake.

Sgt. Dave Voller said the Lake Cowichan detachment will have its own boat for the summer, after it is returned shortly from a winter stint around the Gulf Islands.

“Obviously we’re going to have to try to increase patrols on the lake, but in the end it will depend on staffing,” said Voller. “It’s getting busier on the lake each summer and we’d like to increase our presence out there. We already have doubled the number of hours on the lake, so it’s definitely a priority.”

The Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment currently has 10 members, including two who work in Nitinat. Voller said auxiliary constables can certainly help with the patrols, with some even having boat safety training. The boat safety training is done in Tofino and takes a week to complete.

“Perhaps there could be a volunteer patrol group that could help keep an eye on things,” said Voller. “If we could get some boaters to do that, it would really help.”

Inspector Howard Goodridge of Cowichan Valley Regional Policing recently told the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s regional services committee that there will be an increased presence on Cowichan Lake and Shawnigan Lake. Voller said it sounds great to have the two detachments working together. The question is whether it will work.

25 years:

“Walt’s Drivein is gone” mourned the headline in the March 30, 1994 edition of The Lake News.

Quietly, year after year, Walt’s Drivein served loggers, students, and tourists. No glossy TV ads like the big chains, Walt’s specialized in good food that challenged anyone’s and brought back devotees again and again.

On Friday, Walt’s Drivein closed forever. Its strategic double lot at Nelson and South Shore is to be occupied by a real estate office owned by Rick Bonnell of Duncan.

Walt and Sylvia Haldorson, who owned the Drivein, said the decision about when to close down was made so suddenly that scarcely anyone knew about it.

“It was made last week, as a matter of fact,” said Sylvia Haldorson.

The sign came down Friday afternoon.

The Drivein was said by many to offer the best french fries and milk shakes in town.

It had squatted four-square on its corner these 28 years and watched Lake Cowichan grow from a primitive logging village into an increasingly beautiful residential village for loggers, retirees, and commuters.

40 years:

“We’ll get back our accreditation,” said the headline in The Lake News of Wednesday, April 4, 1979.

A report, which would restore accreditation to the high school is almost ready for presentation to an education ministry committee which is expected to make its critical recommendation at the end of the school year.

A letter sent to School District 66 Superintendent R.W. Heustis says the Provincial Accreditation Committee wants the school administrator to report on four key areas. The letter, signed by R.E.J. Watson, program superintendent of accreditation and school evaluation, identifies these as: school and community relations, school philosophy and objectives, school organization and administration, and internal school communication…Don Service, principal of Lake Cowichan Secondary School until the end of the term, said Tuesday that the school is well on its way to sastisying the education ministry in these areas. He said that his report will be presented to Heustis by the end of May. Watson, meanwhile, has set a June 15 deadline for receipt of the report by the accreditation committee…Service said he and his colleagues at the high school are confident that accreditation will be restored.

“I can say that these four key areas will restore accreditation.”

In a letter to Heustis, Watson describes the forthcoming school report as a “further overview report…as to the action that has been taken by the staff and administration in these and related areas…A united effort is required in making Lake Cowichan as effective a school as it can become.”



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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