‘Here comes the machine,’ says The Lake News of April 25, 1979. Do you remember the great Lake Cowichan Secondary rugby teams of 40 years ago? This particular group of rugged junior rugby players (black stockings) were making their way through the season without a single loss. Machine indeed.

LAKE FLASHBACK: Garbage dumping and the Youbou sawmill: two subjects that never seemed to go away

Plus this week: LCSS rugby machine, and Lois Gage takes over Area I for hubby, John Ward

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 ago:

Garbage tossed into the forest was front page news recently. And, as we see by this column from last week, it was front page news in 1994. Well, it hit the front pages in 2009 as well.

In the April 29, 2009 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette, we read that “Lindsay Elzinga, 10, and Rebecca Oliver, 11,” were “rummaging through Friendship Park in Lake Cowichan, garbage bags in hand.”

They are with Lindsay’s dad John and her brother Brody for the town’s Pitch In Challenge on Sunday afternoon and their bags are quickly filling.

“Ewwww!” the two girls moan as they pick up another used diaper and drop it into a garbage bag.

They have found a cache of garbage that appears to have been dragged into the park by a bear. There are scented shampoo bottles with teeth marks, vegetable and fruit cans, drink containers, beer and pop cans, Styrofoam, broken glass and a lot of old plastic bags. Oliver Creek flows through Friendship Park. Brody Elzinga is picking out garbage from the fish bearing stream.

About 20 people, council members among them, spread about town as part of the 43rd Annual Pitch In Canada Week. There were free hot dogs at town hall for those who participated.

“Of course we would have liked more, but those who helped made a huge difference,” said Mayor Ross Forrest. “It was also very noticeable that others in town have been cleaning up on an ongoing basis and for that we thank them.”

Forrest suggested about a month ago that perhaps another clean up day would be organized prior to the Winter Olympics torch relay in Lake Cowichan on Oct. 31.

25 years ago:

There are two items of special interest from the front page of the April 27, 1994 issue of The Lake News.

First, in the ongoing tale of finding a director for Area I, we learn that “Lois Gage wins Youbou election as Director of Area I on Saturday”.

Gage, the wife of former director John Ward, swept to victory, although only 238 of the 876 people eligible turned out to vote.

Ward had lost his seat because, through no fault of his own, he was late signing a paper, and was not allowed to run in the subsequent by-election.


In another short story, we read, “Youbou mill to be upgraded” as TimberWest “announced that it is going ahead with a $4.4 million modernization of its Cowichan Lumbermill…It will result in improved efficiency and greater long-term security for workers.

It will proceed in four phases, with upgrading occuring in April, August, September, and November.

Although the modernization will result in the loss of 20 positions, early retirement is being offered to eligible employees in order to keep actual job losses to a minimum.

“Modernization of the Cowichan Lumbermill is absolutely necessary if the mill is to survive in the long run,” said Clair Stoney, mill manager.

40 years ago:

Renovations to the sawmill at Youbou had happened before, at a similar time of year.

“Mill sorter ousts green chain, 35 men” screamed the headline on the front page of The Lake News of April 25, 1979.

Let’s find out more.

A $4.5 million expansion at BCFP’s Youbou mill will increase the company’s competitiveness on the world stage but it will cost about 35 people their jobs.

A huge lumber sorter being installed at the old mill is designed to replace the “green chain”, traditionally the low end in the scale of jobs at the mill. The green chain, which at most mills is being manned by hand sorters, is costly to companies in terms of manpower and the new sorter is meant to eliminate a cumbersome and costly process of sorting lumber.

The sorter is expected to be in full operation in about six months, according to mill manager Jim Bigland. He said Tuesday that at present about 50 people are employed on the green chain in three shifts.

About 35 jobs will be liminated and the others will be phased into other jobs such as operating the sorter, which can handle 80 different sizes and grades.

Bigland said the manpower will be reduced by attrition rather than through abrupt layoffs.


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