From the Lake Cowichan Gazette of July 29, 2009, Ron Fawcett, left, and Rick Ketch chat about Ketch’s immaculate blue and white ‘55 Ford Fairlane at the Youbou Bar & Grill Show & Shine.

LAKE FLASHBACK: Two stories that still resound today: watershed stewardship, and helping people from war-torn regions

Plus lots more in our troll through the archives

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:

On the front page of the Lake Cowichan Gazette of July 29, 2009, we first see what has become a buzz-phrase in the Cowichan Lake area: watershed stewardship.

Let’s see what stirred the hornets’ nest at a meeting held by Lake Cowichan’s Ross Forrest, Area F’s Ian Morrison, and Area I’s Klaus Kuhn.

When it comes to tourism, all residents of Cowichan Lake want is a little R-E- S-P-E-C-T: from tubers, from boaters on Cowichan Lake and for the watershed that is, after all, the drinking water for many people.

“There’s no respect out there,” said riverfront property owner Lois Atchison, who noted how much garbage is in the river and how she can no longer see the fish fingerlings any more. “If you go into the river without shoes, you’re bound to get cut by the broken glass.”

Fellow riverfront property owner Don Palmer said the tubing has turned the river into a pig sty with many tubers drunk.

“People swear at you if you say anything to them,” he said, noting that many tubers throw rocks or cans at the ducks. “I’ve lived on the river for 70 years and it’s a bloody disgrace.”

For lakefront residents, it’s a matter of noise and even pollution.

Diana Gunderson of Meade Creek said it’s a problem that has escalated across Canada.

“Noise is clearly increasing and they have no respect for anyone else,” she said, noting that on July 4 there was an unmuffled boat making lots of noise in the morning. “I want to emphasize it’s the minority that causes the problem,” she said.

Riverfront property owner Bruce Wilson said he recently put two garbage cans out on tubes and got about 200 dozen beer cans in a month.

“It’s a booze cruise,” he said, noting that many of the tubers simply set up camp at the Big Pool near his place and have a drinking party.

Joe Saysell said he won’t use Greendale Road to get home because there are too many vehicles parked at Little Beach. “If this was Victoria, those vehicles would be towed away,” he said.

Bill Wilkin of Lake Cowichan said part of the problem for boaters is there is no place to launch at the west end of the lake.

“These boaters won’t use the west end of the lake because they want to be seen,” replied Kuhn.

“With regard to water quality: How are you going to get it with the Miami Vice boaters racing around the lake?” asked Peter Moran from Youbou. “There’s a lot of drugs and alcohol. When we moved here I couldn’t believe how clean the water was. Not now.”

25 years:

In the July 20, 1994 issue of The Lake News, the paper wondered, “Fewer houses to be built at the Lake this year?”

Real estate has always been an up-and-down thing around Cowichan Lake and the summer of 1994 was no different, it seems.

“Although new building is up this year in Lake Cowichan to the end of June, it is levelling off.”

So far in July building permits have been granted for only small projects. Those in the know say that the drop is because of rising interest rates. Opinion is divided as to whether rates will fall again, spurring home building.

Some believe the slow down is temporary. Others point to the autumn Quebec election. If the Parti Quebecois is elected that could spark a sharp drop in the dollar and rising interest rates which, in turn, would stifle the economy and hold new building down.

For the six months to the end of June building permits issued at Lake Cowichan totalled $4,141,427.74, compared to $3,533,633.68 in the same period last year. In 1992 building spurted ahead sharply in the second six months and by the year’s end, permits totalled more than $8 million. That seems less likely this year.

40 years:

In the July 25, 1979 edition of The Lake News, we find that a property purchase had Mesachie folks stirred up.

“Mesachie Lake residents are up in arms over arrogant and threatening actions of two Americans who have reportedly purchased the Hillcrest Lumber property east of the small community.

Major complaints by people in the area are: private area aircraft buzzing the houses; anglers being ordered off the lake; threats of prosecution for trespassing.

But the people in the area are especially angry at the high-handed manner of the two men who described themselves locally as the new owners of the property previously owned by the Stone family of Duncan, the former operators of the now-defunct Hillcrest lumber mill.

Following complaints of aircraft violating the 100-foot air clearance over the homes, RCMP interviewed two men who identified themselves as Ed Herrick of McCall, Idaho, and Larry Lemons, of Payette, Idaho, police said.

A Duncan real estate company salesman said his company did handle the sale but the official who made the deal could not be reached for confirmation and none of the Stone brothers was available for comment.


In another front page story from the same paper, we learn that “Lake Cowichan Catholics have applied to sponsor a Vietnamese ‘boat family’, the Catholic women’s leage has announced.”

The story of the boat people escaping harsh treatment in Vietnam following the close of the war only to end up in crowded camps in Hong Kong had touched many hearts in North America. It’s a story that continues today as kind-hearted people try to help Syrian families fleeing the ongoing war in the Middle East.

Back in 1979, the local Catholic parish in Lake Cowichan was to begin raising the required minimum of $12,000 as soon as the idea was approved by the bishop, Mary Kocurek said.

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