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Lake Flashback: Big anniversary, big agreement, big blow to loggers

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area

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

Here’s a historical story remembering when history was remembered. How’s that for confusing! In the May 14, 2014 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette, the story titled “Museum to mark Lake Cowichan’s 70th anniversary” took up the entire front page.

“Lake Cowichan is celebrating 70 years of becoming a municipality this year and the Kaatza Station Museum is going all out to mark the historic time frame. This year’s Heritage Days…will see the museum set up a variety of displays illustrating and outlining what Lake Cowichan was like in 1944. It was in August of that year that the district first turned into a village, becoming a town only recently in 1996.”

The page 2 story was a raving review of the Kaatza Lakeside Players’ latest production.

“Players knock it out of the park with journey to the land of Oz” was the headline.

“The sell-out crowd that filled Centennial Hall Friday night willingly left their daily worries behind and joyfully journeyed down the yellow brick road with Dorothy and her little band of misfit friends. 17 year old Lynnea Bruce shone as Dorothy Gale, the little girl whose journey over the rainbow took her home again with a new appreciation of life and family. Her strong voice, expressive acting skills and stellar stage presence are clear indicators that we’ll be seeing lots more of this bright star in the future.”

25 years ago

“Historic agreement is reached between B.C. Lands and Town” was the big headline on the front of the May 19, 1999 Lake News. In fact, it was the only headline as the story was the only one on the front page.

“They got what they wanted and we got what we wanted,” is the way Mayor Jean Brown summed up a historic agreement the Town appears to have reached with B.C. Assets and Land Corporation over the railway lands, Lakeview Park and the CLEC Centre. Mayor Brown reported on a meeting in Lake Cowichan with the president and chief operating officer of B.C. Assets, Lorne Seitz last Tuesday, just before the Council meeting. The agreement, said Mayor Brown provides: 1. that the railway right-of-way lands will be given to the Town; 2. that the area surrounding the CLEC Centre will be expanded by 21/2 times; 3. and Lakeview Park will be zoned ‘urban residential’.”

In other news of the day, council learned “the skateboard park contract is about to be signed. The park will be slightly smaller than originally planned because costs were higher and there was no more money,” and “Fire department wages for April totalled $4,010.25. The jaws of life were called for twice, there were two chimney fires, a roof fire, a propane leak, a gasoline leak, and a building fire.”

The Town also heard from RCMP about their thoughts on a new bylaw.

“Council wanted to introduce a ‘no liquor’ bylaw after 11 p.m. at Lakeview Park, but the RCMP advised that it would be unenforceable. Instead a ‘no noise’ after 11 p.m. bylaw will be introduced, which will have the effect desired,” the council briefs said. My question would be, how, if they couldn’t enforce the first bylaw, were they able to enforce the second?

40 years ago

Bad news on the forestry front according to the Lake News of May 16, 1984.

“Renfrew lay-off could last all year: manager says” was the paper’s top headline.

“Loggers formerly employed at B.C. Forest Products’ Renfrew division who were not called back to work after Christmas may not work at all this year, according to the camp manager. Don Ramsay said Friday that although there were a few workers called back for some forestry work, that is finished now, and the loggers are out of jobs again. The camp started 1984 with about 200 employees scheduled for work and Ramsay said that this number is unlikely to change. ‘It looks like it’s going to stay that way for the rest of the year,’ he said. The move will leave about 40 workers — mostly chokermen and cat swampers, according to Ramsay — out in the cold, although they will retain their seniority rights if openings do occur. He said that some workers will leave during the course of the year due to retirement or other reasons and the openings created will make room for some unemployed workers to return to the woods.”

In other logging news, however, “Third shift at Youbou extended” was a bright spot.

The third shift in the “A” mill at the Youbou sawmill will run at least two weeks longer than originally expected. About 30 extra workers were called in April 16 for the extra shift because the mill needed to cut “standard” large-size logs to “balance its inventory”. They were expected to work only until May 11 but this deadline has been extended to May 25 and may be pushed to June 1, according to industrial relations officer Myron Barge.