Lola Sinclair, head Spark, leads her eager troupe of Sparks, followed by Nicole Berry, on a quick march from the Girl Guide Hall to Olson Manor on Wednesday afternoon. Once there, the girls handed out shamrocks and St. Patrick’s Day greetings to each of the residents at the manor. (March 10, 2010/Lake Gazette)

Lake Flashback: Bad budget, bad council and bad guys

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

“Routley calls provincial budget a charade” was the Lake Cowichan Gazette headline of the day on March 10, 2010.

“Doug Routley would see B.C.’s new $40.6-billion budget as something to laugh about in other circumstances. ‘It’s the only joke that gets funnier the more it’s told — or it would be if it weren’t such a tragedy,’ said the Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA. Routley said the budget is just another punch-line in the long-standing joke the B.C. Liberal government is playing on the province.”

Routley was joined by fellow MLA Bill Routley (Cowichan Valley) in his disdain for the budget.

He said “the budget adds further evidence to his belief the Liberal government is out of ideas.” Routley, deputy forest critic for the NDP, also lamented budget cuts of 23 per cent in the forest ministry.

“They’ve seen a 41.8 per cent cut to compliance, which means there are going to be less inspections,” he said. “We really have the foxes looking after the chicken house, now.”

Enough about politics, let’s reflect on something way more fun: fishing!

The Royal Canadian Legion’s Annual Russell Smith Memorial Frostbite Derby was another success back in March 2010.

“There were 76 registered anglers on the water Saturday looking to catch the biggest trout of the day,” it said on page 2. “Organizer Len Smith says the beautiful weather made for a great day of fishing with about 30 trout being brought in for the final weigh-in at the legion. The money raised from this event goes to the building fund for the legion.”

Jim Russell took first with a 50cm three-pound fish.

25 years ago

The front page of the Lake News of March 8, 1995 had Hazel Beech chastising council. That was literally the headline: “Hazel Beech chastises Council”. But why?

“Hazel Beech is not very happy with Council. She had requested that she could appear before Council as a delegation to discuss the Dashwood Park issue on February 28.

“A few days before the meeting,” she told the Lake News, “the Mayor phoned me and told me I could not speak to Council.”

Beech decided she would attend the meeting anyway. “You are skirting the municipal law,” she told the Mayor.

The issue went all the way back to April 13, 1971 when council accepted the gift of a forested piece of land from George Dashwood. The park wasn’t being maintained to Beech’s standards and she had no problem telling council as much.

Also on the front of the same paper was the ever-present issue of regional recreation with not one, but two stories about swimming pools. The first was about a public meeting held about the idea of creating a pool facility in Lake Cowichan and there was no doubt people wanted one, but couldn’t really see themselves paying for their dream facility.

“It was clear at once that the pool, if built, would be about as much like the existing Duncan pool as an army barracks in Russia is to the Empress Hotel’s honeymoon suite,” said the paper.

The second story was about the idea of Lakers paying into the Duncan pool facilities.

Communities that participate in financing a facility would also participate in controlling it, said the proposal.

40 years ago

March 12, 1980’s Lake News headline was slick. For real. “Slick bandits raid drug store for narcotics” it said, and the story didn’t disappoint.

“Slick night-time bandits raided Harper’s Western Drug Mart last week and, after muffling the alarm system, coolly walked off with the drug store’s supply of narcotics. Drugs were the only item taken in the professionally-performed theft.”

It turned out the thieves broke a front window sometime after 3 a.m. and went on to steal morphine, demerol, codeine and other drugs.

“Sergeant Don Douglas of the Lake Cowichan RCMP said that the alarm system had been immobilized in an imaginative way that had proved very effective. When the break-in was discovered at 8:15 a.m. by store owner Maurice Harper, the alarm was still ringing, although it was almost inaudible.”

Police noted that they were following leads and believed the theft was not carried out by local thieves.


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