Helicopters had been laid on for members of the new community forest co-operative but the weather closed in. Members toured the area in Ministry of Forest vehicles. Kelly Schellenberg, left, of the Duncan Forest District, points out various aspects of the timber. Behind her is Ron Reeves, district manager. Left to right are Lois Gage, Dennis LaForge and committee chairman, Jean Brown. (Lake News/May, 10, 1995)

Lake Flashback: Rayner case reopened, new forest co-op, golf course saved

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

This week 10 years ago the RCMP and family of Darreld Rayner were still hoping to solve the three-year-old cold case of his disappearance.

His last known sighting was May 7, 2007.

“Last seen walking his dog a few kilometers south of his Lake Cowichan home on Stone Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. May 7, 2007, it’s still a mystery what has become of Rayner,” it said in the May 12, 2010 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

Of course, 10 years ago he was still considered missing. We know now his remains were located Dec. 22, 2017 not too far from the original search site and his family has finally found closure.

SEE RELATED: Rayners prepare to bury Darreld, move forward after a decade of pain

It was a case that captured the attention of folks around the lake and beyond.

“Noticed missing almost immediately, an extensive search by the RCMP and local search and rescue teams was conducted later that afternoon, with the assistance of family and volunteers. Rayner’s dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, was found that night by searchers, as well as a coffee cup belonging to him,” said the story.

Making matters more difficult, “the area where Rayner went missing has been changed since that day in May of 2007. More of the area has been logged and cleared,” said the Gazette story. “Still, with all that ground being disturbed, there has been no sign of the missing man. Police are hopeful that this new appeal to the public will lead to new information which will answer the questions about what happened to Rayner on that day in May of 2007.”

25 years ago

“It was an auspicious day for members of the new co-operative which has been formed to oversee the management of the Cowichan Lake Community forest, as they stood in drizzling rain to view ‘their’ forest,” read the lead paragraph of the Lake News’s May 10, 1995 edition.

“Bolduc, the name given to the 3,000 hectares, (a hectares is 10,000 sq. metres), which the co-operative will manage, is located within a short drive from TimberWest’s Gordon River Camp. The area has been under the management of the ministry of forests.”

Also gracing the front page of the same edition was “RCMP say: Watch out for pyramid schemes”! Despite the passage of time, it’s the scam that keeps on scamming.

“The police and other regulatory enforcement agencies are always receiving inquiries from the public about pyramid schemes, chain letters and multi-level marketing. It is important to understand the differences between illegal schemes and legitimate business practices,” said the story in what could easily be a piece in today’s paper as well, 25 years later.

“Illegal schemes have robbed persons of their life savings. The tragic aspects of illegal pyramid schemes is that they concentrate on and exploit people with limited means and knowledge of business — people who can ill afford to lose their money or investment.”

40 years ago

The May 21, 1980 edition of the Lake News had some real doozies on the front page. The headlines were: “Fire rips through troubled shake mill”, “Golf course keeps hold of land as local supporters come to the rescue” and “Ball park smashers charged”. In the industry we call all of those hard news stories. No fluff and bunnies here, folks.

As for the mill, some wondered if the early morning fire that swept through the financially troubled Island Shake and Shingle Mill and caused $1 million in damage was what my good friend Lexi Bainas would call a “semi-annual clearance fire.”

The story written by Gerry Soroka, said:

“Insp. Ed Taylor of the Nanaimo fire marshall’s office, one of a 10-member team investigating the blaze, is considering arson as the cause, fire chief Tom Gordon said. The estimated $1 million loss was covered by $7,780,000 worth of insurance, Gordon said.

“John Bottom, the receiver manager and an employee of the accountancy firm of Touche Ross Ltd. of Vancouver, said Tuesday that the fire did not materially change matters from a financial perspective.”

In the golf course story, Lakers drove off a “mystery buyer” as a combined effort by members of the [March Meadows] golf club and the general public has raised enough money for golf course management to refuse an offer to buy their club house and land.

The story went on to say that $32,000 had been raised in pledges as of May 16 — over half of the $62,000 necessary to buy the property themselves.

And finally, “Four juveniles have been charged with willful damage following a destructive sprees at Centennial Park in late March,” was the lead of the Ball Park Smashers story but it connected with an ongoing story of destruction around town.

“The damage to the park’s change rooms and public toilets caused by huge rocks thrown through the roof was estimated by police at $2,000. The four were part of a group of five juveniles who have been charged recently following RCMP investigation of a number of incidents over the past year.”


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