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Flashback: Local radio, Paldi school fire, and unsightly lots

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
“Fifty years for long time Cowichan Lake couple — Trevor and Yvonne Green celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday. Their anniversary is actually July 19, but Aug. 16 was the day of celebration which they shared with about 75 friends and family at their Greendale Road residence.” (Lake News/Aug. 20, 1997)

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

Fancy a big local radio station? Lakers were granted one this time a decade ago. The headline in the Aug. 15, 2012 Lake Cowichan Gazette was “CRTC approval means long-range planning is possible for local radio”.

“Little radio station goes big time,” reads the headline of the press release sent out by CICV, 98.7 FM, the Lake. On Aug. 9, at 9 a.m., the Cowichan Lake not-for-profit radio station received notice from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission that it has been approved to begin transmitting at 50 watts instead of 5. ‘This will definitely improve signal strength and reception to our present listeners,’ said Mike Bishop, chair of the Cowichan Valley Radio Society. But it also means a much broader broadcasting area once the station’s transmission tower is relocated. ‘Our testing has shown that from the new transmitter site we can be heard as far to the east as Tansor and westward to the Youbou lands and beyond,’ said Bishop. A location has been identified, but not released as the station is in the process of attaining the rights to the property. The announcement also means security for the radio station. ‘It’s good for seven years,’ said Bishop. ‘We don’t have to go back and ask them for anything until 2019. It gives us a chance to do some long-range planning because we’ve got a long range future.’

It’s too bad that didn’t work out how they’d envisioned it.

Also, the names of the fatal Youbou crash victims featured last week were released by the coroner in the Aug. 15, 2012 paper.

“Regional coroner, Matt Brown, has released the names of the victims involved in the deadly crash on Saturday, August 4, on the Youbou Highway at the Neva Road intersection at approximately 8:40 p.m. The driver of the motorcycle was 60-year-old Arthur Randy Bernard of Chemainus. Bernard’s motorcycle struck and killed 48-year-old Sandra Dempsey, also known as Sandra Engstrom, as she crossed the Youbou Highway with a friend’s dog at Neva Road.”

25 years ago

The big story was a big fire 25 years ago as “Paldi school goes up in flames”. The Lake News featured the story on the front page of the Aug. 20, 1997 edition.

“History went up in flames in Paldi — the second time recently‚ when the disused Paldi school burned to the ground Saturday night. Not long ago the historic cook-house was burned. Sahtlam Fire Chief Mike Lees said the two fires did not have a common cause. The cookhouse fire was blamed on an accident. Saturday night’s fire, with flames visible more than half a mile away, was deliberately set, he said.

“The alarm was given by a passing motorist at 9:40 p.m. The fire had fully engulfed the building by the time firemen arrived, said the Chief.

“‘The flames were rolling out of the upstairs windows’ he said.”

Not much could be saved but firefighters did keep the blaze from spreading to the surrounding brush.

And for those of you who like to know what the prices of things were back in the day, in the Aug. 20, 1997 paper, eggs benny from the Logger Hut Restaurant would set you back just $4.99! That came with two poached eggs and ham on a toasted English muffin, topped with their own cheese sauce and hashbrowns! What a deal!

40 years ago

There was some big city news in the little Lake News paper of Aug. 18, 1982.

Right there on the front page, next to a happy image of swimmers participating in Youbou Regatta events was the following headline:

“Local couple charged with cocaine smuggling.”


“Two Lake Cowichan people — a husband and wife — have been charged with importing a narcotic after the seizure of nine pounds of cocaine, Surrey RCMP said Monday. Don Rodenbush and Hedrica Rodenbush were released on $50,000 bail each, Friday, Aug. 13 after they were arrested at the Douglas border crossing in Surrey on Wednesday, Aug. 11. RCMP said customs officers searched two suitcases and found cocaine secreted behind the lining. A court appearance has been scheduled for Jan. 26.”

Also in the Aug. 18 edition, the village got permission to tidy other people’s messes.

“The provincial highways ministry has given the Village of Lake Cowichan permission to clean up unsightly properties in town and bill property owners for the job.

“Village council had been concerned about messy lots in town and it had been suggested by village clerk Pat Akerley that if the highways ministry would declare all village streets as ‘highways’ for the purposes of the Highways Scenic Improvement Act, the village would be able to do something about the problem. Council has now been notified that once the ministry publishes an appropriate notice in the provincial gazette, the village will have legal authority to proceed.”

“Two lifejacketed competitors kick their way across the pool in relay race at Youbou Regatta while, on the float, two more teams hurry to catch up.” (Lake News/Aug. 18, 1982)