’It’s thumbs up and full speed ahead for hockey fans and players as they display banner announcing tournament coming up this weekend,’ said the cutline under the front page photo of the Lake News on March 26, 1980. ‘Friends, parents and other family members joined the players Sunday in an expression of support for their wind-up tournament. Several out-of-town teams will be competing with the local boys in the round robin contests. Welcoming banner was sewn by volunteer mothers.’

LAKE FLASHBACK: Hockey tournaments, a chemical spill and one lucky Edgar

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.

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This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

The sun was shining over Lake Cowichan this time 10 years ago and the Communities in Bloom crew took the opportunity to get some planting and replanting done, according to the March 24, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“The Communities in Bloom members moved and planted two large rhododendrons and some Japanese Maples donated by Eunice Shields this week. We were thankful for the help of Dave, Mike and Curtis to dig up and lift the 7-inch high by 10-inch wide plants,” wrote Pat Foster. “The Rhododendron Memorial Garden is an ongoing project of the Committee and plans are to put in soaker hoses this spring to each rhododendron to water them during the dry season.”

Also around this time 10 years ago, the Atom Lakers took the top prize at their hockey tournament in Port Alberni.

The team featured: Miles Brooks, Evan Rowbottom, Parker Bergstrom, Amber Clayton, Emily Vaughan, Nick Brown, Donelle Eaton, Caden Bell, Kris Gullason, Trent Baslee, Nelson Wagner, Luke Martin and Kale Eddy.

“This was the Lakers biggest challenge yet and they pulled through with a narrow 6-5 victory to win it all,” wrote Jeff Bell. “These young hockey players played six games in two days and won every one of them. Way to go kids, you made our town proud!”

25 years ago

Some issues seem to have been around forever. The idea of a pool in Lake Cowichan is one of them.

“Mayor Earle Darling has told the Lake News he will personally oppose building a leisure pool in Lake Cowichan unless the cost of construction is raised before the work starts. He does not favour borrowing money to build the pool.”

That was the lead story on the front page of the March 22, 1995 Lake News.

“We borrowed money once before and we’ve been in paying for it ever since,” he pointed out.

Another headline in that same edition that could have just as easily been in today’s paper was “Village takes action to control vandalism”.

It was about a council meeting about the vandalism in town.

“They voted unanimously on a motion by Coun. Brown, seconded by Coun. Portelance that ‘Terms of reference be established for a security guard and an ad be placed for a security firm/commissionaire to be hired on a contract basis for night patrol in the village.’

“Council, the school board and the RCMP have held meetings on the increasing vandalism in the village and the motion is in response to a need for action,” said the story.

Also it was 25 years ago this week that Ralph Edgar’s 79 Chevy Camaro exploded with him inside and he lived to tell the tale.

He “was reported to be doing ‘okay’ by the Dididaht band office. He was taken to Cowichan District Hospital following the accident but was released” the following day, according to the Lake News.

It seems Edgar was having trouble driving the car.

“He bent over to look under the dashboard when the engine exploded.”

40 years ago

It was not great news for Cowichan Lake this week back in 1980 after tests confirmed a toxic chemical spill into the lake, according to the Lake News.

“Tests have confirmed an allegation that the BCFP mill at Youbou spilled toxic PCPs into Cowichan Lake when employees cleaned out a tank containing log preservative chemicals.

“However the amount of the spill into the lake was not significant enough to warrant prosecution, fisheries official Trevor Fields said.

“The tests were conducted after a union safety committee official charged the company with permitting pentachlorophenol to enter the lake when it cleaned out a ‘dipping tank’ where lumber is treated against mold.”

In better Lake News 40 years ago this week, a $17,000 grant to the Kaatza Historical Society meant they could go ahead with their plan to renovate the old railway station.

“The $17,000 grant from the Heritage Association will be used for exterior renovation only, society secretary Trevor Green said Tuesday.”

“We hope to begin work at the end of June, when we can get students to help with the work,” he said.

“The work planned includes repairs, minor reconstruction and painting of the exterior, and the grant will cover the cost of labour and materials. Once the exterior work is completed, Green said, the society will turn its attention to the interior of the station.”

Cowichan Valley Regional Districthistory

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