’Arena workers picket while youngsters wait for the go-ahead to begin hockey game’ (Lake News/Jan. 21, 1981)

’Arena workers picket while youngsters wait for the go-ahead to begin hockey game’ (Lake News/Jan. 21, 1981)

Flashback: Thrift shop thievery, school district distress, and arena workers walkout

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

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

“Penny Drive season is upon us” declared the Lake Cowichan Gazette editor on the Jan. 19, 2011 edition’s front page.

You all know what this one is about.

“It’s mid-January, which means that it’s time to dig out some pennies for the annual Nichole Stock Penny Drive. After 20 years, the annual Penny Drive, which was started by local youngster Nichole Stock in 1991, is stronger than ever, with about $4,000 raised so far this year, including some leftover funds from last year. Stock, who underwent numerous heart surgeries as a child, started up her Penny Crew in order to help out sick kids, through the Variety Club Show of Hearts Telethon charity. Stock died, September of 1999, from complications after undergoing a heart surgery, just shy of her eighteenth birthday. Since that time, Stock’s family has continued to organize the annual Penny Drive.”

In the same edition, page two featured a trio of smaller new pieces like “Business owners are responsible for shoveling their sidewalk” and “Robbie Burns Dinner and Auction in Youbou cancelled”. The middle story caught my eye though, with the headline of “Theft common from local church thrift stores.”

However common, that’s not cool at all. I read on.

“Thievery is quite common at Lake Cowichan’s two church thrift stores, including the ones at both the Anglican and United Churches. Thieves have been taking items that donors drop off in front of the churches. ‘It is absolutely disgusting,’ United Church Thrift Store organizer Audrey Towle said, adding that the thieves are taking money straight out of the church, as all funds are used to help keep the church afloat. If the thieves truly need an item, and can’t afford it, in all likelihood, the church will give it to them, Towle said.”

25 years ago

“It’s official — school board will oppose amalgamation” was a Jan. 24, 1996 headline on the front of the Lake News.

“The School Board has taken the initiative and has now officially stated they are against the Ministry’s amalgamation proposal. Although there has been lots of talk, the School District #66 board of school trustees is the first board among Cowichan and Nanaimo to come forth with an official statement.”

Given Lake Cowichan schools now fall under School District #79, I guess we know how that ultimately turned out!

Also making the Jan. 24, 1996 front page, “EDC’s funding cuts may fold committee”. First it was the dead fish and then this? The year 1996 was not kind to the EDC. So far anyway.

“If full funding does not come forward for the operation of the Economic Development Committee, the committee may fold. This was the feeling at last week’s meeting among committee members who were presented with a proposed $10,000 cut in funding from the Village of Lake Cowichan.

40 years ago

“A strike by the five union employees at the Cowichan Lake Sports arena that began Saturday, Jan. 17 has shut down both the arena and the curling rink,” said a top story in the Jan. 21, 1981 Lake News. “According to arena manager Buck Hollingdrake, all regular and special programs are being cancelled on a day-to-day basis.

“The employees, who are members of Local 1-80 of the IWA Saturday rejected the final offer from their employer, the Cowichan Valley Regional District.”

The deadlock in negotiations was over wages.

Meanwhile, on the same front page was the news that municipal property taxes were actually going down “due to action by the provincial government.”

“It has not been determined yet how much the average homeowner will benefit, but the move has left the village of Lake Cowichan with the headache of revamping its 1981 budget.”


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