A group of Lake Cowichan First Nations stand in front of their brand new sign that has been placed in front of their multicultural centre on Deer Lake Road in Lake Cowichan. At centre is chief Cyril Livingstone and his wife Georgina. (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 30, 2010)

Lake Flashback: Red-bellied newt finder found, crime spree and herbicide protests

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

Big news a decade ago in the June 30 Lake Cowichan Gazette.

Right there on page 2, the community was told that the “Finder of red bellied newt [was] identified” Phewph! “The proud youngster who caught a red-bellied newt with a net during the 9th Annual Kid’s Derby at Mayo Lake, June 19, was nine-year-old James Bennet of Lake Cowichan. The young biology enthusiast was awarded a fishing rod for his efforts.” I gather his name was unavailable for the story the previous week so they wanted to make sure he got his day in the sun.

Something special also was on tap for Canada Day, according to a big story on the Gazette’s page 3.

“Although they currently only have around 20 members living in the Cowichan Lake area, the Lake Cowichan First Nations have a vibrant culture and a very interesting story to tell. Chief Cyril Livingstone and his wife Georgina plan on sharing some of their cultural wealth during Canada Day events going on in Mesachie Lake from 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday July 1, in the community hall and Skydome baseball field area. Cyril will give the event his blessing at 5:10 p.m., and Georgina will be sharing some of her oral tradition of storytelling later on in the day. Although the Lake Cowichan First Nations have a long history in the Cowichan Lake area, much longer than that of European settlers, many people in the area aren’t aware of them, Georgina said.”

No doubt those who attended those events learned a little more about their neighbours.

25 years ago

The news was not as nice 25 years ago this week according to the front page of the Lake News of June 28, 1995.

“Thieves go on spree despite police, commissionaires” was the headline and the story below was just as disheartening.

“Twelve B&E’s reported” was the subhead.

It went like this:

“Ignoring the presence of two members of the Corps of Commissionaires, as well as the possibility of patrolling police, thieves burgled main street stores with impunity Friday night and followed that up with more break-ins Sunday.”

Maureen’s Family Fashions, the B.C. Tel compound, May’s store (attempted), Fat Cat Fish & Chips, Lake Service Garage, Cowichan Lake Arena, Village Yard, Countrywide Realty, Tipton’s Gas bar and more were hit.

“The Commissionaires were serving their first six-hour shift after being hired by council, reportedly to patrol the Village and curb break-ins and vandalism,” the story continued.

“A free $20 meal of the Fat Cats’ gourmet fish and chips is offered every week for a year to anyone giving information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves who broke into the establishment.”

40 years ago

“This time 40 years ago, mayor Ken Douglas got what he asked for. Complaints — lots of them.” That was one of the featured stories on the front page of the June 25, 1980 Lake News.

“The mayor’s meeting held last week to hear gripes and suggestions of village residents drew several observations from local people. These ranged from complaints about abandoned machinery to bumps in the road,” said the story. “Douglas and his council received 25 different recommendations on subjects starting at dog control and going all the way to bad drainage and stinky sewers.”

High on the list, apparently, were residents’ concerns about the quality of the roads in the Grant’s Lake and Johel Road areas. Does anyone know if those have been dealt with yet?

Also 40 years ago around this time, several groups were out protesting against herbicide spraying.

“Herbicide spraying is necessary because men aren’t willing to work at manual control, Environment Minister Stephen Rogers told local protesters last week. This statement, which incensed local herbicide spray protesters — many of them hard-working loggers — was made in a letter replying to a protest by the Valley Fish and Game Club against spraying in the Port Renfrew area.”

Another group of Skutz Falls residents also protested against the proposed spraying of the chemical Krenite in their area.

“In their protest, the group says that they area ‘extremely concerned’ at the prospect of the herbicide spraying.

“We live out in the country so we are assured of clean air and clean water — surely no one has the right to endanger that for us,” their letter said.


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