Lake Cowichan Secondary School Grade 12 student Juliana Pool performs a mash-up of songs on the piano during the school’s talent show, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. Pool both sang and played the piano on songs like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Free Falling’, ‘With or Without You’, and others. (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette)

Lake Cowichan Secondary School Grade 12 student Juliana Pool performs a mash-up of songs on the piano during the school’s talent show, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. Pool both sang and played the piano on songs like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Free Falling’, ‘With or Without You’, and others. (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette)

Lake Flashback: Test skipped; ‘Lake News’ sold; mill shutdown

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

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

“Local students skip assessment test” was the first headline on the second page of the Feb. 16, 2011 Lake Cowichan Gazette.

Then-editor Tyler Clarke explained more:

“Grade 4 students at Palsson Elementary School decided to skip the Foundation Skills Assessment test in record numbers, this school year. In all, 42.8 per cent of Palsson Elementary School students skipped the test, up from 21.6 per cent during last year’s testing. ‘I am not in support of the testing,’ Palsson’s Parent Advisory Council head Belinda Waller said. ‘All it’s turned into is ranking the schools.’”

Waller was referring to the annual ranking of schools done by the Fraser Institute think-tank.

“Local school board trustee Diana Gunderson agrees with Waller, and added that the scores generated from the Ministry of Education mandated exam should be taken with a grain of salt. ‘Students don’t get anything for this,’ she said. ‘It’s not on their report card. As such, not all students take the test seriously…. To me, the results are so unreliable, and of little use,’ she said. ‘It takes valuable time away from teaching, and what I see as actual education.’ It can also be damaging to the community, she said.”

25 years ago

It was 25 years ago this week the headline in the Lake News of Feb. 21, 1996 announced, “Thomson Newspapers to buy Lake News” — a marriage of the local paper to Thomson Newspapers — a major Canadian communications company.

“The Lake News will join the company’s Vancouver Island Group, which includes the Duncan Citizen, Victoria Times Colonist, Nanaimo Times, the Nanaimo Daily Free Press, the paper in Parksville and the Campbell River Courier Islander.

“Frankly we are delighted that we are placing the Lake News in such good hands,” said paper owner Ron Kenyon.

Also topping headlines in that edition: ambulance cuts. No doubt if you asked Cynthia Blenkin if she was glad ambulance service was available at the lake, she’d agree vehemently (see next week’s Flashback for more!) But to the Lake News of Feb. 21, 1996, cuts were on the table.

“She’s one woman looking for others to support her fight against ambulance personnel cuts proposed last week. In response to an article carried in the Feb. 14 edition of the Lake News, ‘May cut full-time ambulance attendant’, Eileen Pilkington of Lake Cowichan has started her own petition.

“They will be throughout Cowichan Lake, available in almost every business for the public to sign. She intends to send the petitions to NDP leader Glenn Clark, MLA Jan Pullinger, Minister of Health Hon. Paul Ramsey. Pilkington maintains that if the full-time ambulance attendant position in Lake Cowichan is cut, our service will suffer. She is hoping the communities of Cowichan Lake will support her fight and is aiming to collect a minimum of 3,000 signatures for her petition.”

40 years ago

The Lake News of Feb. 18, 1981 reported that the WFI mill shutdown was extended by another week.

“The shutdown of the Western Forest Industries Honeymoon Bay sawmill, scheduled to end Feb. 23, has been extended another week. The new tentative start up date is Monday, March 2, according to mill manager Don Hammond. He blamed a gloomy market picture for the extra shut down, saying that ‘market reports are very bad.’ About 240 workers have been affected by the closure. The mill was also shut down the month of February in 1980 for the same reason.”

Also making headlines this day 40 years ago, “Aldermen clash in strike talk backlash”.

“A Lake Cowichan alderman has accused the Cowichan Valley Regional District of tying the hands of local representatives during recent negotiations with the arena workers. Ald. Roger Hamilton asked Ald. Hazel Beech, who is a member of the arena commission, and was present at the contract negotiations of the two Lake Cowichan representatives — herself and Bob Hall — if she had actually taken part in the talks.

“‘I heard that the Lake Cowichan representatives had nothing to say,’ Hamilton said at the Feb. 10 council meeting. Hamilton, an arena employee, was one of the workers on the picket line. Council had expressed concern at its Jan. 27 meeting that control of the negotiations had slipped from the local arena commission to the regional district in general.”

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