Santa Claus arrives in Lake Cowichan on the Lady of the Lake float. Left to right, Meaghan White, second princess, Nicole Bonenfant, Lady of the Lake, Kari Lingren, Miss Congeniality, Frosty the Snowman, and guess who, the Big Man himself. (Gazette, Dec. 10, 2008)

Lake Flashback: Sandy Berry is featured as our look back at Decembers past continues

WFI got a Christmas gift in 1978, but by 1993, some residents were in need of a police warning

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 Lake Cowichan Gazette of Dec. 10, 2008 featured a story entitled “Greatest gift of all for Sandra Berry is giving back”.

“Sandra Berry fairly glows when she talks about an annual Christmas tradition in her life. No, it’s not finding the perfect gift for a special child or sitting down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, it’s helping to ensure that someone that she doesn’t even know will be able to enjoy just these things.

Berry is a volunteer with Community Services’ Christmas Hamper program.

“We’ve got a good list of volunteers this year,” said Berry. “I can hardly wait to get in there. They’re such very kind and giving people.”

Giving is what it’s all about, from the anonymous donors who drop off non-perishable food items in the various donation boxes around town to the people who include writing a cheque to the hamper program when they sit down to write their Christmas cards to the dedicated team who turn up year after year to put it all together.

“It’s a two-day deal for me and lots of others,” she said.

For Sandra Berry, the Community Services’ Christmas Hamper fund is one of her favourites through Cowichan Lake Community Services located on Point Ideal road. Each application is reviewed and the hampers are filled based on family size. They include the makings for a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, including fresh vegetables and usually eggs and bread for breakfast on Christmas morning. If there are children in the house, age appropriate gifts will be provided as well if requested. All the groceries are purchased locally at Lake Cowichan’s Country Grocer or gleaned from the donation boxes.

“We’re very careful to check the dates on any donated canned goods as sometimes people will clean out their cupboards,” said Berry. “We want to make sure everything is fresh and good. The people at Country Grocer are so good, they lend us their buggies so the volunteers get handed a list, a buggy and get to go shopping!”

Berry, a Mesachie Lake resident of 37 years, has been volunteering with the program for the past 10 years. She feels that helping out with the hamper program is an important way of giving back and showing a sense of community, especially at Christmas time.

“To see the relief on the faces of some of the people where just a box of groceries is a really big deal,” Berry noted. “When they’re delivered, the kids come running and can hardly wait to look in the boxes. They’re excited just to have food in the house.”

Once her labour of love on hamper day is done, Berry is looking forward to a good old fashioned family Christmas with her husband of 43 years, David, three grown children and their families, including her six grandchildren.

“The gang all come in and we play games and laugh and this year there’ll be probably 15 or so for dinner,” she said.

Berry’s holiday wish to all is simple.

“I’d like to thank all the people who have donated and volunteered to help out. Thanks for taking the time and caring so much. Merry Christmas!”

25 years ago:

The Lake News of Dec. 15, 1993 included the intriguing headline “Breaking the law? It’s a good time to stop”.

Let’s see what it was all about.

“It may be due to confusioin over the admittedly complex liquor laws, but police say that a number of groups in Lake Cowichan have been breaking the law.

If they do it again, said Sgt. Ron Merchant, there will be no choice but to deny them future liquor permits.

The most common breach of the law has been in overcharging. Special occasion licences carry an obligation to charge no more than $1.65 for a drink or beer.

“We know of one case where a woman drew it to the attendion of a man on the bar that he was charging $2 and that was illegal,” said Sgt. Merchant. “We are told that the man said: ‘We can’t make money unless we do’.”

The special licences are not intended to make money, he pointed out.

Permits must be obtained for any function held in a public place where liquor is consumed whether or not the liquor is sold or supplied by the host, he said.

40 years ago:

“WFI pollution charge dismissed” was the headline on the front of The Lake News Wednesday, Dec. 13, 1978.

Pollution charges against Western Forest Industries have been dismissed in provincial court, ending a trial which began in March.

The local forest products company was charged under the federal Fisheries Act late in 1977 with “depositing a deleterious substance in waters frequented by fish”.

The trial, heard by Judge F.G. Giles, was expected to be concluded in September but it was not until Dec. 1 that the case was dismissed.

The case revolves around an incident in August 1977, in which a WFI workman allegedly deposited a quantity of silt, gravel and leaves in Ashburnham Creek, while he was cleaning a company-owned dam.

Giles heard three days of testimony in late August and was expected to reach a decision after Crown prosecutor Rory Morahan and defence counsel Ed Chaisoon presented their summations.

Chaisson stated in his summation that the Crown has “fallen far short in its evidence from establishing that the material at the bottom of the dam was deleterious”.

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