Skaters Wendy Neva and Rhonda Rajala both performed in Cowichan Lake Skating Club’s annual ice show held in March 1987.

Skaters Wendy Neva and Rhonda Rajala both performed in Cowichan Lake Skating Club’s annual ice show held in March 1987.

Lake Cowichan’s arena home to many events over the years

The Cowichan Lake District Skating Club was formed in June 1970, the same year that the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena was officially opened.

The Cowichan Lake District Skating Club was formed in June 1970, the same year that the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena was officially opened.

According to a CLCSC’s article in 1993, in the fall of 1970 the group’s newly elected executive interviewed three professional [skating]candidates, then hired Mrs. Barbara Scott of Port Alberni as their senior professional.

After registration for the final enrollment in the skating program, over 300 children had signed on, with a “startling 71 in the senior hour.”

The club’s first executive was made up of Doris Wilson as president, Lorraine Lawrence was vice-president, Sharron Carpentier was secretary and the treasurer was Irene Pearse.

There was also a full complement of directors including Wynne Haydock, Lea Powers, Kay Olsson, Miriam Scott, Shirley Mayne and Pat Weaver.

One of the many ice shows put on by the skating club over the years was the March 1987 ice show Journey Through the Decades which featured many skaters including superb performances by Wendy Neva as Princess Leia and Rhonda Rajala (Weber) as Cyndi Lauper (see above photo).

Over the ensuing years, the club produced a large number of top skaters many of whom went on to skate professionally on the international level.

In addition to the formation of the skating club, a curling club — more recently known as Cowichan Rocks — and minor and recreational hockey leagues were also formed.

Summer and year round hockey schools operated by the arena gave hundreds, if not thousands of youngsters and adults opportunities to take advantage of the new facilities.

Like the skating club, the hockey program turned out several young hockey players who eventually reached the professional level including a half dozen or so who went to the NHL.

A 1993 published article penned by former Cowichan Lake Sports Arena manager Buck Hollingdrake, stated that the facilities and its programs provided “a tremendous source of revenue during the off-season.”