Flashback: Sports icons, river tragedy, the summer of strikes

“These are the ones you want, not me,” mayor Ross Forrest, second from right, told photographers during the unveiling of the first four inductees for the Cowichan Lake Sports Wall of Fame at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, Friday, July 22. From left is skiier Gord Tuck, golfer Dawn Coe-Jones, mayor Ross Forrest, and hockey player Brad Palmer. Baseball player Charlie Stroulger, who died in 2005, was represented by his wife Trudy and son John. (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, July 27, 2011)“These are the ones you want, not me,” mayor Ross Forrest, second from right, told photographers during the unveiling of the first four inductees for the Cowichan Lake Sports Wall of Fame at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, Friday, July 22. From left is skiier Gord Tuck, golfer Dawn Coe-Jones, mayor Ross Forrest, and hockey player Brad Palmer. Baseball player Charlie Stroulger, who died in 2005, was represented by his wife Trudy and son John. (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, July 27, 2011)
“They’re off on a visit to Vancouver, courtesy of Lake Cowichan Fire department. At the Mesachie Lake firemen’s Muscular Dystrophy auction, the Lake Cowichan department bought a trip for four to stay at the Hotel Vancouver for two nights plus $200 spending money for each couple. The department gave the holidays to Adam Sohye, Grady Robertson and their dads. Both boys have muscular dystrophy. They were taken by a TimberWest helicopter last week to Vancouver. Left to right, top row: Nick Sohye, Dick Newman, Lake Cowichan fire chief Doug Robertson; and in wheel-chairs, Adam Sohye, left, with Grady Robertson. (Lake News, July 24, 1996)“They’re off on a visit to Vancouver, courtesy of Lake Cowichan Fire department. At the Mesachie Lake firemen’s Muscular Dystrophy auction, the Lake Cowichan department bought a trip for four to stay at the Hotel Vancouver for two nights plus $200 spending money for each couple. The department gave the holidays to Adam Sohye, Grady Robertson and their dads. Both boys have muscular dystrophy. They were taken by a TimberWest helicopter last week to Vancouver. Left to right, top row: Nick Sohye, Dick Newman, Lake Cowichan fire chief Doug Robertson; and in wheel-chairs, Adam Sohye, left, with Grady Robertson. (Lake News, July 24, 1996)
“Pickets do duty at British Columbia Forest Products sawmill at Youbou.” (Lake News, July 15, 1981)“Pickets do duty at British Columbia Forest Products sawmill at Youbou.” (Lake News, July 15, 1981)

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

It was just a decade ago that Lake Cowichan’s most famous sports icons were recognized in their home town.

The front page of the July 27, 2011 Lake Cowichan Gazette was all about it.

“Sporting brand new Cowichan Lake Sports Wall of Fame plaques, four local sports icons were honoured last week. The four sports stars — Dawn Coe-Jones, Gord Tuck, Brad Palmer, and Charlie Stroulger (posthumously) — are the first to be honoured with the plaques, which are now at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena. The project has been the brain child of mayor Ross Forrest, who began work on the Wall of Fame about two years ago. A selection committee was put together, charged with the difficult task of selecting only a few of Cowichan Lake’s sports stars for its inaugural unveiling, Friday, July 22.”

Following that big news, was another interesting story of a local man blocking a logging truck from a residential road.

Tyler Clarke reported:

It was a showdown with logging trucks, Tuesday, July 19. Sick of logging trucks driving down his quiet, child populated residential road, Lake Cowichan Boundary Road resident Rick Gillie began blocking trucks.

“The problem has been that these logging trucks started going up and down the road today. There’s been six to eight today,” Gillie said. After the first six to eight, he’d had enough, and parked his truck at the end of Boundary Road to prevent trucks from entering town.

“If it’s not one thing it’s another,” an understanding truck-driving independent contractor said, while discussing the matter with Gillie after finding himself stuck behind Boundary Road with a full load of logs.

“This used to be a dead end road,” Gillie said, motioning to the end of the road, which meets the Trans Canada Trail. Crossing the Trans Canada Trail, logging trucks have carved themselves an opening at the end of the road into the woods, where logging has been taking place. “They didn’t consult the neighbourhood. It’s depreciating our properties, having a logging road here,” Gillie said. Although Gillie admitted that the trucks drove down the road quite slowly, their size alone is reason enough to cause safety concerns.

25 years ago

The front page of the July 24, 1996 Lake News reported on a death at Marie Canyon.

“A 27-year-old Victoria man died this weekend on the Cowichan River after being thrown from his inner tube near Marie Canyon. Lake Cowichan RCMP said that James Dean Starling of Craigflower Road in Victoria was floating down the river in the area of Marie Canyon located 10 km east of Lake Cowichan. Sgt. Ron Merchant of the Lake Cowichan detachment said Starling’s inner tube struck a rock throwing him from the inner tube. Onlookers retrieved Starling in approximately eight feet of water. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

“Sgt. Merchant reminds everyone that while tubing is a favourite past time in the river, Marie Canyon is especially hazardous and these places should be avoided, unless wearing safety equipment like helmets.”

On the same front page, “School board chairman shoulders blame”.

School board chair Wilma Rowbottom is taking the responsibility herself that letters regarding amalgamation; retaining some local autonomy in Cowichan Lake, never got to a public meeting. “Somehow they (the letters) inadvertently got on a close meeting agenda and I take responsibility for that,” she said Friday in a special public meeting of the school board.

And finally, it was just a throw to a story inside the paper, but in case you wondered from last week… “you don’t have to reserve your bus seat after all.” Phewph!

40 years ago

The good news is I’ve located the July 15, 1981 edition of the Lake News that I couldn’t find last week!

The bad news is the headline: “All sides set for summer of strikes”. Not good. Let’s explore.

“Cowichan Lake has been plunged into a full-scale forestry industry strike and all sides appear ready to grit their teeth and get through what could be a long, hot summer of labour strife. The strike called by the International Woodworkers of America and an impending strike by pulp and paper workers could virtually grind the provincial economy to a halt.

“Workers have struck five forest industry sites in the Cowichan Lake area: the B.C. Forest Products mill at Youbou, Western Forest Industries’ Gordon River operations, Crown Zellerbach at Nitinat, and B.C. Forest Products logging operations at Caycuse and Port Renfrew.

“The strike has idled about 1,425 IWA loggers and mill workers. Some had already been out of work as much as four days prior due to wildcat strikes.”

And finally, the July 15, 1981 Lake News reported “work started on major village sewerage overhaul”.

Yay for sewage overhauls!

“Work has begun on the first stage of the improvements scheduled for the Lake Cowichan waterworks. New pipes will be laid to upgrade the village’s distribution system, including Cowichan Lake Road, North Shore Road, Park Avenue and Beaver Road, according to village works superintendent Ron Dryborough. The cost for this part of the project is $400,530.

“Complaints have been received at the village office for several years that pressure is low, according to the report. In addition these old mains offer ‘no fire protection’ and in many parts of the village, the system ‘would not be able to provide the minimum fire flow of 800 Imperial gallons per minute,’ said the report.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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