What began as a small portable saw mill at “Cottonwood” in 1913 grew to be one of the area’s largest sawmills. At one point

Getting to know the community of Youbou

The community of Youbou, originally called Cottonwood, has a varied and interesting past; one that dates back to 1907.

The community of Youbou, originally called Cottonwood, has a varied and interesting past; one that dates back to 1907.

This week’s column is filled with bits of information that you may or may not have known.

Did you know that:

• Youbou’s first school (in a converted bunkhouse) opened October 5, 1925, with seven students under the tutelage of Miss Eleanor Redhead.

• A straw-filled scarecrow called Mr. Mischief was burned at the big community bonfire held on Halloween night (source Terry Budden).

• The first school in what was later to become Youbou was called Cottonwood School, as was the settlement.

• The earthquake of June 1946 was a 7.4 on the richter scale caused a piece of land at the mouth of Cottonwood Creek to drop into Cowichan Lake, causing a tidal wave (tsunami), forever changing part of the west shore of the lake.

The earthquake was the strongest on-land earthquake in Canada’s recorded history.

• By 1951 the community of Youbou had three grocery stores; Brunings, Hills and Norm’s market, plus the Red and White department store.

• In earlier times there was a sign posted along the railway tracks near Cougar Charlie’s float house, which read “Cougar Skins For Sale.” ‘Cougar’ Charlie Caldwell was his name, and 70 cougar kills he laid claim.

• Youbou’s first post office opened in 1926 at the Empire Lumber mill office. Later, it was relocated to Gordon’s Store, which had opened a branch that year.

In 1993, the post office – located in its own building by then – closed its doors.

• A small ice cream parlour once operated from the basement of Gordon’s Store, which was situated “just down and across” from the Youbou church.

• During school district board meetings, Youbou school trustee Harold Squibb attended, and because of his abhorrence to cigarette smoke, would position himself beside an open door in “order to avoid the full blast of cigar smoke from Colonel Boyd’s pipe.”

Squibby, as he was called, was also the reporter for the Duncan Cowichan Leader way back when.

The Colonel also held many “esteemed” positions in the community, including that of school district secretary-treasurer.

• The Courtnall children: Geoff, Russell, Bruce and Cheryl, along with their parents Cathy and Archie Courtnall, lived in Youbou from 1959 until 1968 when their father – a BCFP employee – was transferred to Victoria.

The children, who were all born during the family’s years in Youbou, all attended the community’s Yount Elementary School.

• The Royal Bank of Canada operated a branch in Youbou many years before the branch was relocated to the then Village of Lake Cowichan in the 1980s.

• The Youbou Community Church held its first service on April 2, 1938.

The church was built using volunteer labour and resources from ITM (Industrial Timber Mills).

Research source:

Verle Leakey (Perkins); Hazel Hall Beech; Saywell’s Kaatza; Cowichan Leader article by Harold Squibb 1965; UBO Memories by Youbou Historical Club.

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