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
I’m not going to lie, I was beginning to think all of the crime vanished sometime after 1995 as there hasn’t been much mention of it in the papers of 2010. But “a rash of thefts in the Cowichan Lake area” in big bold type on the front page of the Nov. 24, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette has proven me wrong.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s bolted down, locked in, or difficult to get to; if something is of any value, it’s vulnerable to theft. With four break-ins and a few thefts reported to RCMP in the past couple weeks alone, this is the message that is coming loud and clear across the Cowichan Lake area,” said the story. “Local convenience store owner Grace Smith suffered a break and enter a couple months ago. Her business is now an example of the harsh effects thefts can have on a business. ‘It may cost my business. If I survive this, it’s because I’m tough, stubborn and mean,’ she said. During the break-in, various tobacco products were stolen. As a result, she’s stopped carrying tobacco products for the time being, until she can figure out a way of preventing future thefts. This has resulted in lost revenue.”
Well that’s no good. And, I thought it was the end of it. Then I turned to the second page.
“The most surprising of all thefts happened Wednesday, Nov. 17, when it was reported to RCMP that a 60 metre length of Telus telephone line was stolen from the Skutz Falls area.”
It was stolen right off the pole. Rude!
Also hit around that time were the Lions Den, Centennial Hall and Lake Cowichan Secondary.
25 years ago
It was a sad time around the Lake according to the Nov. 29, 1995 edition of the Lake News.
While it was this edition that reported the Lake Cowichan Fire Department received their new Jaws of Life, which was good news, and Dr. Gerry Egan and his wife Bertie celebrated their “happy retirement” — also good news — that’s about where it ended.
“One man dies as canoe overturns” was a prominent headline.
“A Vancouver man died and his companion in a canoe suffered mild hypothermia after their canoe tipped on Nitinaht Lake Thursday. Soufian M. Oueja, 22, was pronounced dead at the Duncan Hospital. His canoeing companion, Hassan Y. Elmaleh, 22, of Richmond, was treated at Nitinaht by residents for mild hypothermia. The two had been camping.”
Right under that story was news of another death under the headline of “Popular musician died of heart failure”.
“The popular and renowned Payton Lewis died suddenly at his home in Lake Cowichan at the age of 38. Friends say Lewis died of heart failure and Lake Cowichan RCMP say his death is believed to have been caused by an accidental drug overdose.”
The cause had not been confirmed by an autopsy at the time of that story, “but police say evidence found at the scene included items associated with drug use.”
Also in the Nov. 28 edition of the Lake News, “Cowichan Valley Regional District is expected to make a decision soon on the way it will dispose of material from septic tanks throughout the area. Joseph Allan, director of Cowichan Lake South, said that eight tenders were received. These were short-listed to three and then two.”
Both options represented new technology (at the time) and could produce effluent so pure that it meets Health Ministry standards for swimming.
40 years ago
Teachers were planning a one-day walkout according to the Nov. 26, 1980 Lake News. Why, you ask? To protest pension fund cutbacks. They weren’t the only ones.
“Lake Cowichan teachers will join a one-day province-wide walkout next week in protest against pension fund cutbacks. Village and area teachers will stay away from school for a half-day Thursday, Dec. 4 to demonstrate at the opening of the Legislature in Victoria as educators protest against government action to limit teacher pension increases to eight per cent.
“‘We sincerely regret the loss of school time to our students and the inconvenience to parents caused by this action,’” said teachers in a statement.
In other school news of 40 years ago, the Lake News reported that a “campaign [was] launched to save [the] village’s oldest standing school”.
“A Lake Cowichan resident has launched a campaign to save the school district maintenance shop from possible demolition. the building, which had been known as the ‘Bell’ school in its earlier days, will have to be torn down or moved, if a planned new RCMP station is built on the site. The subject came up when the Lake Cowichan school district was approached by the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings, who asked if there were any school buildings still standing here that had been constructed prior to 1930.”
To wrap up this week’s Flashback, I’ll tell you that “The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce is considering suing the provincial highways ministry on behalf of the citizens of the area.”
Based on the ongoing saga of seal coating causing damage to windshields, we all knew this was coming.
“The chamber decided at its regular monthly meeting last week to instruct its lawyer to investigate the advisability of suing the ministry after it indicated it was backing away from a promise to make up financial losses suffered by persons using Highway 18.