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
“Salmon and Mushroom Festival Fabulous” burst from the front page of the Nov. 2, 2011 Lake Cowichan Gazette in big bold letters. Sounds like a good time was had by all, according to Carolyne Austin. “Fine weather greeted visitors to the 11th annual Salmon and Mushroom Festival at Lake Cowichan Centennial Hall this past Saturday,” she wrote. “Five hundred adults and about two dozen children entered the hall over the weekend enjoying the various vendors from the Girl Guide cookie sellers, to those selling jewelry, preserves, art, greeting cards and mushroom growing kits. As well there were mushroom displays and sales, slide shows and tantalizing edibles.
“People flocked to the barbecued wild salmon which was served on both days from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. by Frank Sutherland and Ted Burns of the Salmonid Enhancement Society.
“Ingeborg [Woodsworth] as usual had almost 80 varieties of mushrooms, edible and toxic for close examination by spectators. Dozens of people enjoyed several slide show presentations on mushroom identification on both days. She believes education is the key to a safe and successful mushroom picking trip into the woods.”
Also a decade ago, rock hunter Brad Sullivan struck…. rhodonite!
“If managed correctly, Youbou area rhodonite claim could be worth millions of dollars,” wrote editor Tyler Clarke. “It was long believed that all of the major rhodonite claims in the Cowichan Lake area had already been mined. Backed by his life’s savings, local man Brad Sullivan set out to prove them wrong, surprising himself and others with his resounding success. A discovery he estimates to be 400 feet long and 10 feet thick in places was discovered after only two months of searching. “There’s been people going up for 15 years for rhodonite, and they only found little pieces,” he said. He’d gone out bear hunting with a friend when he discovered the area, west of Youbou.”
I wonder whatever became of that?
25 years ago
“Armed robber escapes” was certainly a headline that grabbed some attention on the front of the Oct. 30, 1996 edition of the Lake News.
“A lone robber who help up the Royal Bank in Lake Cowichan Saturday escaped with only a small amount of cash. Despite hasty police work setting up road blocks to check vehicles, Sgt. Ron Merchant [said] the man was not apprehended.
“Police said the robber entered the Royal Bank shortly after 3 p.m. The man told the teller he had a gun which he indicated was in his pocket. The teller handed the man a small amount of money and when he demanded more and didn’t receive it, left the bank heading west on South Shore Road.”
In other news, “Many issues of potential risk to staff and patients were reported” in a report revealing the potential risks at Cowichan District Hospital.
The report, commissioned by the hospital’s CEO Don Brown, and carried out by Sharon Dixon, of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, was 24 pages and “Dixon reports on many problems, both real and perceived in the various departments of the hospital.”
It seems some of the problems are long-standing.
“The report states that the capacity for patients in the emergency department, exceeds the staffing provided; that there is an average of 75 visits per day which are managed by two staff around the clock.” Also, “staff perceive that their ability to deliver services effectively and safely is exceeded by the workload.”
40 years ago
Anyone who believes there’s not much action around the lake must not have been reading the paper four decades ago.
This headline from the Oct. 28, 1981 edition of the Lake News must have left readers wondering who bought the movie rights.
“Trapped loggers burst through ring of fire to freedom” it said.
“‘By helping each other, we saved our lives’. This was the thankful comment of one of three loggers who assisted each other to safety as a forest fire threatened to engulf them last week.”
“Mesachie Lake resident Bill Goranson, 37, received serious injuries to his arm and hand. He will be off work for some time to recover. The other two loggers, Lyle Halberd and Bill Howie of Victoria, suffered from smoke inhalation and less serious burns, but have returned to work. All three work for B.C. Forest Products Port Renfrew division.
“‘We are lucky to be alive, we were trapped by the fire,’ Goranson said.
“The fire broke out in an active logging area Thursday morning when a line rubbing against a rock threw out sparks which quickly started a fire. Goranson and Halberg were hosing down the fire when a blazing tree branch fell on Howie. Goranson climbed down the hillside to rescue him.
“‘He had been pinned down there for a few minutes but he was able to get out before I arrived. The flames were all around us.’”
Halberg went down the hill to help.
“‘When we looked around, we realized we were in serious trouble.” They were surrounded by fire.
“‘We didn’t panic. We just hung together and looked for a way out. We had no choice but to go out through the fire somewhere…we shouted and ran through it. The heels of my shoes were burned off. My shirt caught fire. I couldn’t roll on the ground because the ground was on fire, too.’”
The men had taken turns helping each other over the bluff. Their teamwork is what ultimately saved all three.
“Goranson said the three were lucky because ‘we didn’t lose our heads.’”