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Flashback: School board fired, surgeries cut, brother’s guilty plea

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
“Work the fun way. Allison Drake, 13 years old, enjoyed the fundraising she took part in on Saturday at Saywell Park washing cars toward her trip to Ohtaki next year.” (Lake News, July 16, 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

A scholarship was handed out following a golf tournament on July 7 a decade ago, according to the story “Honoring those from the past and those stepping into the future” that headlined the front of the July 11, 2012 Lake Cowichan Gazette, and Jordyn Wear was its recipient.

“For the residents of Honeymoon Bay, Saturday, July 7, was a day of both remembering, and looking to the future. Starting at 1 p.m., the Memorial Doug Goddard Golf Tournament began out at March Meadows Golf Course in Honeymoon Bay. Local firefighters, family, and friends took part in the tournament, taking advantage of the sunshine while remembering Honeymoon Bay firefighter and friend to many, Doug Goddard, who passed away in 2002,” said the front page story. “Through the events, organizers raise funds for a $500 scholarship, which is given to a Honeymoon Bay resident who is planning to attend six months or more of post secondary education. This year the scholarship went to Jordyn Wear. Wear is in her second year at Vancouver Island University, and plans to use the funds to help pay for travel expenses and the purchasing of text books.”

And the culmination of months of push back against the provincial government occurred this time a decade ago when “Minister fires Cowichan School Board.”

“After over a month of rallies, support from other school board trustees, unions, and other groups, as well as trying to get a meeting with the minister of Education, George Abbott, the Cowichan Valley School Board has been fired. Mike McKay, superintendent of the Surrey School District, has been appointed as the official trustee for School District 79.”

Many at the time knew it was a real possibility but many others had hoped for a different outcome.

25 years ago

$11,000 was the goal and the kids of Lake Cowichan planned to raise it by February to go to their town’s sister city in Japan.

So said the Lake News of July 16, 1997.

“Kids, water and hot dogs — a good combination, and not just for fun last Saturday, but to raise money for students travelling to Ohtaki Japan in February 1998. Students were washing cars, selling hot dogs, and had a few baked items for sale. The kids have raised $1,000 toward their goals of $1,000 per student. Eleven students are planning to go on the February trip.”

Operating room cuts were also in the news as Susan Lowe reported.

“Surgery at the Cowichan District Hospital has been cut a half day with plans in August of going to a full day. Politicians are calling these cuts strictly temporary during summer months while doctors take vacations; others in the medical field are calling them strictly budget cuts which may threaten specialists and increase waiting lists.

“One person heavily involved in the medical field, and who worked for many years at the Cowichan District Hospital, and who wished not to be identified said that there is speculation among doctors that in the future Cowichan District Hospital will become a ‘whistle stop’ on the way to larger centres like Nanaimo or Victoria.”


In other news of the day, and there was a lot, “Keith Eugene Skramstad pleaded guilty July 3 in Duncan Supreme Court to manslaughter in the death of his brother Kenneth Skramstad.

“Police were called on Oct. 18 to a Lake Cowichan residence shortly after 11 p.m. A confrontation occurred where Kenneth had been stuck on the head with a baseball bat.”

Keith had originally been charged with first degree murder.

What’s more, it was this time in 1997 that it was announced riding in the back of a pickup truck on or crossing a B.C. highway would become illegal effective Aug. 1. Standing up inside of a moving car was also to be made illegal.

40 years ago

“Poisoning feared as village wraps proposed spraying” was the top headline in the July 14, 1982 edition of the Lake News. Beside a giant photo of Lake Cowichan’s own Dawn Coe, who won the B.C. Women’s Amateur Golfing crown at a tournament last weekend, that is.

“Lake Cowichan alderman Don Gordon on Thursday will appeal the permit that allows the Canadian Pacific Railway to spray the chemical Karmex Diuron along its rail-line in the vicinity of the village of Lake Cowichan.

“He will point out in his presentation that drinking water in many areas both in and near the village is likely to be affected by the spraying and also that the long-lasting qualities of the chemical” may mean poisoning for not just plants and animals but presumably people, specifically children, as well.

And finally, in a rare occurrence, “Garbage fees said too high” was a headline but I think it should have said “set” too high based on the story. You decide.

“Lake Cowichan village council will review the way money is collected for garbage pickup. Village clerk Pat Akerley told council at a recent meeting that ‘the mill rate system is collecting too much. Residential homeowners are subsidizing the commercial, industrial and government (users).”

“Best in B.C. golfer Dawn Coe of Lake Cowichan clutches prizes collected after capturing B.C. Women’s Amateur Golfing crown at tournament last weekend. Dawn defeated arch-rival Lisa Young, last year’s champ.” (Lake News, July 14, 1982)