Flashback: Christmas Madness, Cocaine for kids, and top notch school board

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

“Too bad he never dressed like that to attend his CVRD meetings in Duncan. Nice legs, Mr. Darling. Yes, that’s none other than former mayor Earle Darling in the hat, dress, and carrying a purse. Darling was the lucky one to be chosen to fill in for a ‘cast member’ in last week’s Lakeside Players’ zany production of A Christmas Carol.” (Lake News, Dec. 11, 1996)

“Too bad he never dressed like that to attend his CVRD meetings in Duncan. Nice legs, Mr. Darling. Yes, that’s none other than former mayor Earle Darling in the hat, dress, and carrying a purse. Darling was the lucky one to be chosen to fill in for a ‘cast member’ in last week’s Lakeside Players’ zany production of A Christmas Carol.” (Lake News, Dec. 11, 1996)

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

“December Madness rolled into Lake Cowichan with a force on Dec. 2 as upwards of a 100 people gathered at the Visitor Information Centre at Saywell Park to celebrate the approaching Christmas season,” wrote Dorian Geiger in the Dec. 7 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette. “It was a festive atmosphere as Santa Claus appeared on a fire truck to visit all of the community’s little boys and girls. Hot chocolate, coffee and cookies were served to keep everyone warm and fuzzy, too.”

Also a decade ago, Santa’s helpers were hard at work earning money for the United Way.

“Cowichan United Way Breakfast raises $1,275” was the headline.

“The ever-popular Cowichan United Way fundraiser breakfast went off with a bang on Dec. 2 at the Shaker Mill restaurant. Upwards of 100 people crowded into the local diner for a hearty breakfast that unfolded between 7-9 a.m. Patrons had a choice of a waffle or sausage, hash-browns and scrambled eggs breakfast. There were 92 breakfasts served and $1,275 raised during the morning affair.

“This figure is down slightly from last year’s function, which raised $1,652. United Way will receive about half of this amount, while Cowichan Lake Community Services will get the remainder of what has been raised. Event organizer Pat Foster “is more than aware that the United Way breakfast has become a staple tradition in Lake Cowichan.

“The breakfast has been running for over 20 years now and Foster has been along for the ride since the breakfast’s inception. She’s watched the breakfast grow and become more fine-tuned over the years. Foster thinks hosting the breakfast on the same day as the town’s light-up and kickoff to December Madness is good way to roll out of bed.”

25 years ago

There was hard-hitting news on the front of the Dec. 11, 1996 Lake News with headlines like “Cocaine and other hard drugs in our community and in our schools” and “Raw sewage could back up into Cowichan River warns Town Clerk.”

Let’s dig in.

“It’s believed that hard drugs are in more demand by younger and younger students because the cost of them is declining and young people have lost their fear,” starts the cocaine story. “Claud Ruggieri, principal of LCSS says a study out of Victoria has found that one third of all senior students have experimented with harder drugs. ‘We are no different and the question is, where are they getting them from?’ Ruggieri asks. Harder drugs listed include cocaine, and LSD. That is not to suggest that Lake Cowichan Secondary School is full of cocaine, nor that one third of all students are hard drug users. The study merely states that one-third of all senior students have experimented with drugs.

“According to both Ruggieri and Constable Mike Cain of the Lake Cowichan RCMP, the more prominent drugs in the Lake Cowichan area are alcohol and marijuana. ‘If it weren’t for alcohol, I’d nearly not have a job,’ Const. Cain said.”

The story went on to say it was the result of three different people citing that “cocaine is a real problem” in the area. Cain, however, said “it is no more numerous here than anywhere else.”

Moving on to the raw sewage story, “an out of date pump station in Lake Cowichan could back up sending effluent (raw sewage) into the Cowichan River, contaminating drinking water in Duncan down to Cowichan Bay.”

Oh great.

“The cost to re-design the pump is estimated at $200,000…and it’s been included in the budget since 1995 but due to the cost, has not been done.

“‘To protect the environment and to protest the municipality, it will be our recommendation that something is done as soon as possible,’” said city staff.

40 years ago

I don’t know what it’s about but the Lake News of Dec. 9, 1981 reported that the “Christmas Tree Fairies are now taking orders” but only on weekends. I’m curious to know if it was for literal trees or something charity related or what. It was just a small ad but it stood out to me on page 2 of that edition.

In other news from the same edition 40 years ago, “Brown says other districts followed example set here,” was about how School District 66 runs its operation.

“Jean Brown, who was re-elected by acclamation by the board for a third term as chairman…Dec. 1, said she had recently learned that other school districts were now being told to follow a course of action that School District 66 began two years ago.

“Trustees in the Lake Cowichan school district have the opportunity ‘to be among the leaders in our province in providing the best education possible to the students in our classrooms,’ she added.”

The comments followed a restructuring of the administration.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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