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Lake Flashback: Midnight rescue on lake, power failure during searing heat, and Dawn Coe on championship trail

Bonus item: a wedding at home plate at the Sky Dome? Why not?
From the Gazette in 2009, Dave Van Ek and Lara Elliott walk together under a row of baseball bats after getting married in a ceremony near home plate at the Sky Dome in Mesachie Lake on Saturday. The couple met five years ago at the 1/2 Cutz Draft Slo-pitch Tournament and decided to get married at the 2009 tournament.

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:

The Aug. 5, 2009 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette featured a startling headline: “10 rescued from lake after 2 boats collide Saturday night”.


Let’s hear the story, from editor Doug Marner:

Ten people were rescued from Cowichan Lake Saturday night after two boats collided near Bald Mountain at Marble Bay.

According to the police, a moving boat hit a stationary boat just after 11 p.m. The Lake Cowichan RCMP, two B.C. ambulances and the Honeymoon Bay Fire Department, with its rescue boat, responded to the call.

The Lake Cowichan Fire Department, after completing a call on North Shore Road, also responded with assistance.

“Alcohol is not suspected,” said Const. Mark Skinner, who noted that all 10 people were treated for minor injuries and as of Sunday afternoon only one person remained in the hospital.

“None of the injuries was serious,” said Skinner. “The incident is still being investigated.”

The Honeymoon Bay Fire Department off loaded its boat at the Cowichan Lake Marina, while other rescue operations were done off Peri Road at Marble Bay, with other boaters taking the people to shore.

Skinner said the collision could have been more serious, especially with the incident happening at night.

“That’s why they have lights,” he said. “Given that there’s so much traffic on the lake, we don’t have too many collisions.”

All those on the two boats are believed to be from Victoria.

25 years ago:

“Wow, what a week” says the headline in the July 27, 1994 edition of The Lake News.

What was going on?

“Heat seared itself into the record books, the wind roared, the power went off: it was a week to remember weatherwise.”

The Village works department recorded a temperature of 102 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) last Friday, a record in recent times.

But the temperature was in the 30s nearly all week. Sunday night, after gusty winds, the power failed throughout the area about 6:30 p.m., in time to spoil most people’s dinners.

Power was off from Nanaimo south but B.C. Hydro reported that the event that most affected us occurred when a giant cottonwood tree, five feet in diameter, fell across the road near the Mayo Road and Cowichan Lake Road junction. It took out four spans of the 60,000 volt transmission line as well as cross arms.

That is the main line from Duncan to the entire Cowichan Lake area.

“It was a mess,” said a Hydro spokesman.

Power was not restored until 4:40 a.m., only to fail again in isolated parts of the district at 5:20. It was not fully restored in Lake Cowichan until 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Stores had been doing a brisk business in fans, and air conditioners were not easy to come by. There wasn’t enough rain to measure during the week.

40 years ago:

On the front page of the Aug. 8, 1979 edition of The Lake News we read: “Coe faces biggest test of young career”.

Lake Cowichan’s beloved super-ambassador spread her wings and flew over many golf courses until her untimely death but this was from before she was famous.

“Lake Cowichan’s Dawn Coe will face the biggest test of her golfing career next week. She will be competing in the Canadian nationals at Cornerbrook, Nfld. and a win would be a long step forward on her march towards the women’s professional golf circuit.”

The 18-year-old won a berth on the B.C. team, which will tee off in Cornerbrook Aug. 13-17, with an impressive string of appearances this year to add to the accolades collected in the 1978 campaign.

Coe’s most recent important win was capturing the B.C. junior women’s championship in Kamloops with a score of 159, good for a two-stroke victory over Nancy Callen of Victoria.

This was the second time she pocketed the championship.

This week Coe was playing at the President’s Cup tournament at Shaughnessy and Capilano clubs. This tournament, which is essentially a warmup for the nationals pits B.C.’s best women against each other.