“Left: Local area runner Thomas Marrs, 19, nears the finish line, at a time of 4:37:24, during the 9th Annual Great Lake Walk, Saturday, Sept. 18. Middle: Victoria-based Pearson College instructor Seb Falk, 29, stands next to the bell, after finishing the 56-kilometre trip around Cowichan Lake 21 seconds after Marrs. Right: Coming in third is Honeymoon Bay’s John Quested, 64, pictured while exiting Honeymoon Bay. Quested’s final time was 5:32:36.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette/Sept. 22, 2010)

Flashback: Trips around the lake, to Japan, and on a dangerous highway

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

“Walkers conquer Cowichan Lake” was the top headline on the Sept. 22, 2010 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

It was a local teen that took top spot.

After running for four hours, 37 minutes, and 24 seconds, Paldi-area runner Thomas Marrs, 19, became the first to cross the finish line during this year’s Great Lake Walk, Saturday, Sept. 18.

“I didn’t walk any of it,” he said of his run, although he added that he did have to wait for water at one point.

“His final time this year was over an hour less than last year’s time of 5:59:23, which was still enough to put him in ninth place during last year’s walk.”

“I trained a lot this year,” he said. “Last year I was addicted to a video game.”

Also in the Sept. 22, 2010 edition was “The Cowichan River’s gravel makeover”.

Why? For the fish.

“Those around the Cowichan River on Sept. 8 were witness to an unusual sight, when six truck loads of gravel were shot out of a truck and into the Cowichan River. Of the loads, 5.5 were put into the river next to the Lake Cowichan Municipal Offices, with a half load put in at the trestle footbridge site near the Duck Pond.

“During the day, a group of workers created three parallel mounds of gravel extending from the bank, between a third and half way across the channel. These mounds are separated by about five metres, and provide ideal spawning habitats for coho and chinook salmon.

“The deposits were done in response to low levels of chinook salmon in the Cowichan River, with numbers declining since 1999 to an all-time low of an estimated 1,069 spawners in the river in 2006. It’s hoped that these new gravel deposits will provide abundant spawning habitats for their winter spawning.”

25 years ago

The Sept 27, 1995 edition of the Lake News was chock full of stories but one stood out from the rest.

“Cowichan nominated as B.C. Heritage river”.

Susan Lowe wrote the story.

“Moe Sihota made it clear last week when he made a brief stop in Lake Cowichan by helicopter, that the government’s goal is to have the entire Cowichan River corridor proclaimed a B.C. Heritage River. In response, MLA Jan Pullinger rallied 100 people to clean up the river at Stoltz Pool last Sunday.

“Sihota, minister of Environment, Lands and Parks, viewed the river, by helicopter last Wednesday.

“By proclaiming the Cowichan a B.C. Heritage River, governments on all levels would have greater control on development, fish enhancement, and all activities which may encroach the river.”

Also making the front page were plans to sell a School District 66 school.

“Visions of the future spell the eventual sale of Stanley Gordon Elementary School. Its sale would help fund the expansion of A.B. Greenwell and Palsson Elementary schools. School District 66 voted to adopt the 1996/1997 capital plan in the amount of $1,657,753 and the Five Year Capital Plan. The Plan will be forwarded to the Ministry of Education for approval of Capital Funds. The Ministry does not necessarily approve the proposals without change.”

Today, Palsson is the only functioning elementary school of the trio.

40 years ago

“A Cowichan Valley cedar tree is going to make the long journey to Japan — as a totem pole.

This story appeared on the front page of the Sept. 24, 1980 Lake News.

“The tree, donated by Western Forest Industries of Honeymoon Bay, will be turned into a hand-carved 30-foot totem pole by two [First Nations] craftsmen and sent to Tamagawa University, Tokyo Japan as a gift from Malaspina College in Nanaimo. The pole is being created by the distinguished west coast native carvers Robert and Reg Davidson to help celebrate Tamagawa’s 50th anniversary.”

Also on the front page was “Spraying goes ahead with new twist”.

“A ministry of forests herbicide spraying program in the Cowichan River area has got the go-ahead and is scheduled to be undertaken this week. The program to spray alder and other deciduous trees was given approval by the Pesticide Control Branch appeal board after a formal protest had been filed by MLA Barbara Wallace last summer. A group of Skutz Falls residents also had expressed concern at the nearness of the proposed spraying.”

The MLA and members of the press were invited to observe the spraying.

In other news, “Highway anger lingers” was another top headline.

“Highways Minister Alex Fraser has been asked to re-open the Old Lake Cowichan road amidst anger of local motorists who were forced to drive the highway during recent resurfacing. The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce made the appeal last week after it was ‘inundated with requests for action.’

“Several dozens of irate motorists expressed their views to the village office, ICBC, and, we presume, your office regarding the dangerous condition of this highway during and immediately after the resurfacing,” president Ted Forrest wrote to the minster.

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