Whiling away the hours fishing in the Upper Pool of the Cowichan River

1893:Young man drowns in logging accident and other stories

By 1891 the new owners of the first Riverside Inn had decided it was about time to replace the small hotel with a newer and larger one.

By 1891 the new owners of the first Riverside Inn (which was built prior to 1887 by Charles and Alfred Green, brothers of area pioneer Frank Green and then sold in 1888), had decided it was about time to replace the small hotel with a newer and larger one.

It was noted in the Victoria, B.C., British Colonist newspaper that “a new one is badly needed, the present one being altogether too small for ensuring the requirements and comforts of all the visitors.” The newer and larger replacement was itself, later replaced, adding to an eventual total of about five different Riverside Inn  buildings occupying  the same site over the decades.

The Victoria paper also ran advertisements, some pertaining to the Cowichan Lake area. In an 1852 issue the following advertisement “For Sale, Cowichan Lake house, furnished with barn and out buildings, boat house and eight acres of land; steam launch (boat) sloop and two rowboats included. To be had cheap. Owner leaving the district is the only reason for selling. Also fine fishing and shooting.” There was no contact name or address, thus one was likely expected to travel to the area and search it out themselves.

An advertisement of an 1891 issue read “Wanted — a governess — apply immediately to Mrs. Angus Fraser, Cowichan Lake.” The Frasers were known to have had many, many children, mostly girls.

Another typical ad includes the following dated 1905, “For sale: 300 acres of first class fir on Cowichan Lake averaging 80,000 feet per acre, conveniently located and can be logged very cheaply, crown granted, apply to B. C. Land and Investment Agency in Victoria.”

On May 6, 1893 a local logging accident that resulted in the death of 19-year-old George McDonald, followed by a coroner’s inquest in Victoria, was reported a few days later in the Victoria newspaper.

George, the son of J. B. McDonald of Cowichan Lake, was working on a log boom on the lake when he slipped off a log and drowned. Using a cant hook, he was pulled from the water some 20-minutes later but “all efforts to restore life proved unavailing.”

The jury at the coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of accidental drowning due to the fact that George had been wearing boots with no calks. As was the custom of the era, the deceased was sent to Victoria on “the morning train” from the community of Cowichan Lake where [the body] it was to be embalmed and shipped back to Wisconsin where he presumably came from.

Another short but interesting news item was the July 1893 report that local government agent Wellburn, “by instruction of the Chief Commissioner” of the provincial Lands and Works Ministry, had left Victoria for Cowichan Lake via stage “to inspect the trail from Cowichan Lake to Alberni”.



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