From left, Mesachie Lake fire chief Nick Sohye, his son Adam, daughter Paula, and wife Sherry come together to toss the first pitch of the 30th annual Mesachie Lake Muscular Dystrophy Ball Tournament and Auction in June 2009. (Lake Cowichan Gazette file photo)

LAKE FLASHBACK: Outstanding service to the community is a key-note this week

We remember tireless Tina Newton? Do you?

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:

Fundraising efforts reached new heights this year among local fire departments, according to The Lake Cowichan Gazette of June 24, 2009.

More than $60,000 was raised for Muscular Dystrophy Canada through the annual ball tournament and auction held on the weekend of June 20-21.

Mesachie Lake fire Chief Nick Sohye expressed deep gratitude for the show of support from donors.

“Again it’s just unbelievable. It’s just really hard to put it into words,” said Sohye, whose son Adam has muscular dystrophy.

In its 30th year, the Mesachie Lake MD Ball Tournament and Auction got a big boost from one person in particular.

Eight-year-old Kalliana King, who had her pink-coloured hair shaved off for the fundraiser, helped to bring in $13,000 for the cause.

King, from Cowichan Bay, said she had no idea she would shatter her original goal of $500.

A trademark feature of the fundraiser is the auction, which was held on June 20. This year, one of the top items up for bid was a handcrafted birdhouse that sold for $5,800.

Nick Sohye said the other fire departments chipped in so Mesachie Lake could buy the piece.

This year’s total is up from the $48,000 raised in 2008.

Also as part of the events, firefighters from several participating departments set out on a 30-kilometre walk that started in Mill Bay and finished at Mesachie Lake. Along the way they passed around a boot to collect even more donations.

25 years ago:

We’ve got two smaller items this week from the June 29, 1994 edition of The Lake News.

“They’ve time for Tina” says “The Cowichan Valley Volunteer Firefighters have presented a fine burled clock to Tina Newton of the Village Answering Service, for her years of service to them.”

Newton was available at all times to take fire calls, relay messages, and help firemen find a fire for 13 years until her service was superseded June 12 by the costly 9-1-1 service. The presentation was made at the Firefighters Annual Dinner at Mesachie Lake.

“It was an evening I will always remember,” said Newton.

She had a few words for the firemen: “I will miss the extra paging out for special meetings, some legit, some not quite (stag parties). Keep up your fantastic response times. You are second to none. You must go to bed with your boots on.”

She conceded that “every time I hear a page or a siren, a prayer will still go up for your safe return to the barn.”


The other note followed on a kerfuffle that had happened elsewhere in the province.

“Branch 210 Royal Canadian Legion in Lake Cowichan has recently confirmed that Sikhs are welcome wearing turbans, reports Ray Bennett.”

Bennett, a long-time Legion member, said Branch 210 has always welcomed Sikhs wearing turbans. The branch merely reconfirmed its stand.

Bennet said he served in the Second World War alongside Sikhs in North Africa and “they were great”. He was with the British First Army under Gen. Aukinlech, who preceded Gen. (later Field Marshall) Bernard L. Montgomery and his 8th Army.

A row arose over Sikhs wearing turbans at Legion halls after the Legion at Langley decided not to allow them.

40 years ago:

Financial woes hit the activity centre in Lake Cowichan, according to The Lake News of June 27, 1979.

“Douglas Denton-Howes, the activity centre administrator who went into his new job in March with high hopes, has resigned, disillusioned with the Human Resources Ministry and disheartened by massive cuts in funding.”

His resignation takes effect July 30, a month after emergency funds for the Community Resources and Activity Centre were to be used up at the end of June. As of Tuesday, only three out of eight staff were working: Denton-Howes, a youth worker, and a bookkeeper.

Denton-Howes did not express bitterness when he said, in an interview, that he had quit, but he acknowledged that one of the main reasons for his action was because of the evident inability of the activity centre to proceed in the direction he had expected when he took over the job vacated by Dalton Smith this spring.

Denton-Howes also indicated that as far as he could see no funds would be available for the usual September start-up for the activity centre following the usual two-month closing during summer.

“It won’t be opening,” he said. “It is defunct until we find some more funding. The prospects of opening as we were are very dim.”

He said the activity centre board is preparing a budgetary proposal to a provincial government interministerial committee which he said might make more funds available. At least $32,000 would be needed to keep the programs going for 10 months, he added.

However, Denton-Howes expressed skepticism of the proposal being received well by the government committee. “The only way it could happen is if there is a great change of heart and philosophy at the ministerial levels.”


In other news from the June 27, 1979 Lake News, we see that a forest fire was being fought.

“Three water bombers were battling an 18-acre blaze on the west coast Tuesday…the fire, contained in logging slash, started Tuesday morning on MacMillan Bloedel leases three miles west of Renfrew Camp. The air tankers were called in at noon.”

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