“Whooping it up for Cowichan Lake Days, this colourful tribe of Kaatza Day Care children shows off costumes youngsters will wear on their float. This group is among dozens of organizations businesses and individuals who will be strutting their stuff in the parade, which will start from Greendale Road at 11 a.m. and wend its way to Centennial Park along South Shore Road.” (The Lake News, June 11, 1980)

Lake Flashback: Lake days, love for Lexi Bainas, and a lost boy

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.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

“Former gas station owner could pay over $2 million” was the headline on the top of the June 9, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette and it was describing how “former Lake Cowichan gas station owner Phil Keshwani could soon be out of millions of dollars if the Ministry of Environment has its way.”

It was a big deal at the time but it went back years.

The story explained: “It’s been two years since his gas station on Cowichan Lake Road started leaking diesel onto Don and Luanne Palmer’s property, as well as into the Cowichan River and Oliver Creek. After some initial attempts of doing the cleanup himself, Keshwani had passed the project on to the Ministry of Environment, who are now completing it.”

Ministry of Environment public affairs officer Suntanu Dalal said the ministry would be looking to be reimbursed.

“The environmental cleanup, which is currently wrapping up, has cost the Ministry of Environment between $2 and $2.3 million. Now, using cost-recovery provisions of the Environmental Management Act, the ministry hopes to get their money back,” Dalal said.

Also a decade ago, whether or not river tubers would have to pay a charge to help clean up the river was on the table at town council.

“An environmental charge tubers would pay for river cleanup was discussed by council, in response to a question from the public about the effect tubing has on the river.

“At times it’s a problem,” Mayor Ross Forrest said of people tubing down Cowichan River. “Last year there were days where there were over 1,000 people.”

Cleanup went well last year, he said, adding that one tubing company opted to pay for it. A better, more fair option, he said, would be forcing all tubing companies to pay for cleanup, through an environmental charge.

“Environmental charges are a good idea that we will consider,” he said.

25 years ago

Though there is no byline, I would put money on the fact that Lexi Bainas wrote this story entitled: “Merrymakers turn on the sun” which graced the front page of the Lake News of June 14, 1995.

The fourth paragraph reads in true Bainas style, but here are the first three before we get to the goodness.

“Brannon Nelson, Miss Kin, was crowned Lady of the Lake Saturday in showery weather that did not disperse many spectators.

“Catherine Sherred, Miss Legion, is first princess, and Aldena White won the dual roles of second princess and Miss Congeniality.

“Best in-town float was judged to be that of the Lady of the Lake; best out-of-town float, Nanaimo Empire Days.”

And here’s the paragraph that would earn me the big bucks if betting on newspaper bylines was a thing:

“With the weatherman fighting a guerrilla war or machine-gun showers through the two days, Lake Days revellers fought back good naturedly.”

That is a solid Lexi sentence if I’ve ever seen one.

Anyhoo, it rained, the 50-mile round-the-lake event was scratched and the tug-of-war was won “by default by the Lake Cowichan Volunteer Fire department. No one else showed up.”

Lexi, if you’re reading this, let me know if my bet’s a winner.

Not so light-heartedly, it was also on the front of the same paper that a body was found by loggers near Lens Main Line.

It “is believed to be that of David Zboyovsky, 25, of Lake Cowichan. RCMP would not confirm the identification.

SEE RELATED: Lake Flashback: Museum preserves future, new hope for a pool, and a missing man

“Zboyovsky disappeared May 21 after he left his residence in Lake Cowichan late at night. His truck was found at Harris Mainline and Lens Mainline on the way to Port Renfrew. Repeated searches failed to find him.”

40 years ago

It was a heck of a front page, the Lake News of June 11, 1980. So jam-packed with headlines that it was hard to choose what to share.

Obviously I’m going to share the story headed by: “Free breakfast consumes 270 lbs cakes, sausages”. Who wouldn’t want to read that?

“It’ll be come one, come all, Saturday morning June 14, when the Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce invites the whole town to drop in for breakfast.

“The general public can lay in bed until 8 a.m. and then come down to eat, but the members of the chamber who ‘volunteer’ to do the cooking have to be up and on the scene at 5:30 a.m. to cook up the 150 pounds of pancake flour and the 120 pounds of sausages.”

All of a sudden I have a hankering for breaky.

Could our friend Lexi have written this one as well?

“From 8 a.m. until about the time the parade starts, the delicious smell of coffee will lure people into the fire hall for a yummy, free breakfast.”

Once again, my bet’s on Lex.

That same 20-cent edition of the Lake News also announced “Youbou TV reception to improve, says CRTC” but I think the headline says it all. All except the upgrade hiked the rates to a whopping $8 a month from $6.50 per subscriber.

Also a terrifying story with a happy ending, to round out this week’s Flashback.

Under the headline “lost boy, 12, endures wet, cold” it said this: “A Lake Cowichan boy had more of an afternoon hike than he had planned on Wednesday, June 4 [1980]. Robert Hazelwood, 12, was taking part in a three-day camp out with other students from Stanley Gordon School, when he became separated from the rest of the group while hiking Bald Mountain above the Boy Scout camp.”

The group had stopped for a snack about 3 p.m., the story relayed, and it only took a few minutes after they’d packed up and resumed hiking that the group noticed the boy wasn’t part of the pack.

“Hours later, he was found down on the beach in the North Arm area, wet, tired, and hungry, knowing nothing of the extensive search that had been going on.”

All’s well that ends well, but a scary incident nevertheless.


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