LCSS girls volleyball Lakers, including Jinet Monti-Slaata, Natasha Charles and Hailey Hudson, were peaking just in time for the Islands in November 2009. (Lake Cowichan Gazette)

Lake Flashback: Honouring Barry and Lou, Lawrence hits the road, Ken squeaks by Ted

Politics was rough back then, too, but so was the urge to preserve the Lake’s history

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:

They are known as the gentleman and lady of heritage in Lake Cowichan and after years of volunteer service preserving the area’s history, they were honoured by the B.C. Museum Association with a Golden Anniversary Service Award.

Barry and Lou Volkers were scheduled to receive the honour at a special town hall meeting in Centennial Hall, the newspaper reported.

“To be honest, we’re not sure why we’re getting this award,” said Lou. “No one has told us much about it.”

If you ask Pat Foster, chair of the Kaatza Historical Society, it shouldn’t really be a mystery.

“I cannot think of two people who deserve this award more,” said Foster. “They’re so supportive of the community and its heritage.”

The Volkers moved to Lake Cowichan in 1951 when Barry took a job at the Western Forest Industries sawmill in Honeymoon Bay.

The Volkers joined the Kaatza Historical Society in 1983 and in 1987 helped establish the Heritage Advisory Committee, with Barry its chair. It later became the Kaatza Heritage Commission.

Foster said Barry always paid his own way to B.C. Museum Association conferences because the society couldn’t afford it and to this day he still drops by the Kaatza Station Museum to work on the archives.

“He’s the gentleman of heritage in Lake Cowichan,” said Foster. “And Lou is the lady of heritage.”

The Volkers’ involvement in the community has gone far beyond recording its history, though.

Lou was active in the drama club, was a member of the music club’s string quartet and she conducted church choirs. She was secretary of the United Church Women, served on the executive of the local Boy Scouts, the parent teacher association, the mental health association, the hospital auxiliary and the Kaatza Art Group. Lou also volunteered for 40 years in the Stanley Gordon School and Boyd School libraries.

Barry was chairman of the Scout Christmas tree farm for 20 years, treasurer of the United Church and served as president of the District Scout Association. He is a lifetime member of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce.

Barry is no stranger to awards. During last year’s Heritage Days, appropriately, he was named a Freeman of the Town and received a Key to the Town. He won the B.C. Heritage Award in 1992, the TimberWest Regional Heritage Award in 1999 and the Nichole Stock Memorial Community Service Award in 2001.

“This is very big in the museum world,” Barb Simkins, curator at the Kaatza Station Museum, said about the award.

25 years ago:

Times were changing in Lake Cowichan in November 1994. The Lake News of Nov. 23 of that year notes that “Lawrence White to retire from SD #66.”

White, 52, was the district’s secretary-treasurer. His last working day would be March 24, 1995.

Asked why he was leaving, he said he wished to do other things. Another factor, he said, is that with increasing growth the school district is going to have to make many changes in its administrative methods. He is a business expert but the district will increasingly need technological people as it installs more machines.

White joined the school district in 1975…He told the Lake News he thinks SD#66 is an outstandingly successful school district. The government has set up a committee to recommend amalgamations and SD#66 may be in danger of amalgamation with SD#65.

He believes that small school districts should be retained partly because local peole know their business best.

40 years ago:

On the front page of The Lake News of Nov. 21, 1979, we read “Mayoralty contest a cliff-hanger as Douglas wins”.

Ken Douglas had earned a two-year term after “squeaking past challenger Ted Forrest” in the municipal election that year.

Douglas collected 411 votes against 393 picked up by Forrest. There was a 53 per cent turnout at the polls, about double the average in most municipal elections this year. There were 803 ballots cast out of a total of 1,554, and, according to returning officer Bill Chappell, an additional 101 were added. There were two spoiled ballots.

The heavy turnout is not unusual for a community in which political activity and sentiment runs high, but most municipal elections draw a small turnout, the heaviest usually being reserved for mayoralty races.

Both candidates have lived in the community a long time but Forrest was the better known of the two. He was relying on his popularity and on his active participation in community and sporting events. Douglas, at 40 years of age, 13 years younger than Forrest ostensibly did not have as broad a popular base to work from but undoubtedly received much support from New Democrat backers, some of whom worked on his campaign. Neither candidate, however, wished to be identified with any political party during the campaign although Douglas is an avowed NDP supporter.

Douglas expected it to be close, perhaps closer than his opponent anticipated.

Forrest…said he recognized that Douglas had run a strong constituency campaign. “I saw the machine out Saturday,” he commented. “They worked harder than I did.” He said he would not be seeking re-election to municipal office again but declined to elaborate.



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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