This strange-looking load turned heads in the village of Lake Cowichan when parts of a new hoverlift ferry for northern B.C. were brought to Mesachie Lake for testing in late 1978.

Lake Flashback: Lake Cowichan has had its ‘new’ coat of arms and flag for 10 years now

Plus: we’ve got a ferry being tested in Mesachie Lake, a housing slump, a jinxed play, and more

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through oldnewspaperswiththeassistance 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 weekaround Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago:

The Town of Lake Cowichan officially received its new coat of arms and town flag, according to the Lake Cowichan Gazette of Dec. 3, 2008.

“The armorial bearings were presented last week, at the last meeting of the old council, by Graham Anderson, the Cowichan Herald, who provided the original concept and designed the drawings, assisted by the heralds of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. Robert Tunstall is the painter and Shirley Mangione the calligrapher.

“I hope the coat of arms will be on council business cards and town letterhead,” said outgoing mayor Jack Peake.

Peake admitted that during the process of getting a coat of arms there were times it wasn’t going the way council wanted, but in the end it worked out.

“The result is we got exactly what we asked for,” he said.

The coat of arms features a cougar and a buck, a steelhead trout, fawn lilies, and an eagle perched on a coronet, which refers to the forest industry.

At the base of the coat of arms are the Latin words “Copia Sub Umbra Montium,” which means “Abundance in the shadow of mountains”. The town’s new flag includes the shield in the middle that includes the steelhead and chevrons, with navy blue on each side of the shield.

Council began the process of getting a coat of arms, flag and flower in May, 2007 with an application to the governor general’s office, which through the Chief Herald of Canada oversees and approves the process, the story concludes.

25 years ago:

The Dec. 1, 1993 edition of The Lake News boasts not one but five headlines plus some pictures so it was obviously a busy week.

What was up back then?

The biggest font size went to “B.C. house sales slump but prices remain high”.

Apparently “throughout just about all of B.C., sales of residential real estate dropped sharply in October, compared to the same month last year. Prices, however, did not fall with them. The Cowichan Lake area was no exception, with most realtors saying their sales are down. Some indicated that a moderate price adjustment will necessarily follow.”

Then there was “Play has had more than its share of troubles”.

In just one example, Dena McPhee reported that “one of the three men in our play, who has to dance the tango without leading lady is on crutches with a badly sprained ankle and fractured hand.”

Also, “The IWA and three other unions representing 25,000 forest workers last week abandoned CORE’s Vancouver Island round table after a year of talks on land use on the Island.”

Organizers hadn’t apparently come through with enough of a “transitional plan to protect workers who would lose jobs.”

(When was the last time you heard anyone talking about 25,000 forest workers?)

But jobs were in the air.

Another front page story says “new business ties with Japan could be coming in the spring for Lake Cowichan” after “three Japanese businessmen were in town last week to talk about the matter.”

And finally, for this week in ‘93, there was this: “Lake Cowichan is prosperous enough that it’s given employment to Duncan people, Mayor Earle Darling told council last week. In 1990, he said, unemployment in Lake Cowichan was 12.9 per cent. In 1993 unemployment in Lake Cowichan had fallen to nine per cent and in Duncan had risen to 10 per cent.

“We’re giving employment in subtrades for people who come here from Duncan,” he remarked.

40 years ago:

The Lake News headline “New ferry tested at Mesachie Lake” is enough to intrigue us, and I’m sure you are wondering too.

Let’s check the paper of Nov. 29, 1978.

A Ministry of Highways crew began assembling a large hovercraft-type vessel on the shores of Mesachie Lake in preparation for extensive testing. The craft, to be used as a ferry in northern B.C., was built at Yarrows Shipyard in Victoria and trucked to Lake Cowichan in four sections.

Ted Blanchard, superintendent of ferries for the highways ministry told The Lake News the craft will be used as a ferry across the Fort Nelson River on the Liard-Fort Simpson Highway, now under construction. While the craft is a hovercraft design, it will run on a cable stretched across the river and will depend on a winch system to travel back and forth across the river.

Blanchard said crews will drive steel pilings into the banks of Mesachie Lake to simulate the conditions the vessel will be used under. A ramp will be built to allow loaded gravel trucks to drive onto the craft to test its stability.

The vessel, designed by Hoverlift Systems of Calgary, is 49 feet wide by 66.5 feet long. It will carry a payload of 80 tons and was built at a cost of about $800,000. It is powered by two V12 GMC diesel engines.

(Hoo boy! We’re not sure what kind of reception lakefront property owners would give to such testing today. But maybe that was why they didn’t test it in a lake nearer Victoria.)

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