Long-time Lake Cowichan resident Don Palmer watches the house he shared with his wife Luanne Palmer for over 40 years as it is torn down in April 2010. (Tyler Clarke photo)

LAKE FLASHBACK: development, drunk drivers, downhill skiing

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

After about two years of dealing with different levels of bureaucracy, the Palmers decided in November 2009 to move out of their home, due to its increasingly powerful oil smell.

“The smell was getting so bad in there we though it was making us sick,” Don explained in the Lake Cowichan Gazette’s April 14, 2010 cover story.

The retired couple took up residence in a rental home three houses down Stanley Road from where their now leveled house once stood. The house was familiar to the Palmers, as they’d at one time purchased it for their daughter. “That was really convenient for us,” Don said, adding that the arrangement allowed them to stay in the same neighbourhood they’ve enjoyed for the better part of their lives.

Palmer watched his house as it was torn to the ground by heavy machinery, the latest insult after over two years of dealing with his contaminated property. Throughout the day, machinery tore down and lifted the house into a few waiting dumpsters, which were promptly transported out of town.

“It’s a sad thing. We’ve been in this house for about 42 to 43 years,” he said as he watched the house he used to share with his wife Luanne Palmer being dropped into a dumpster.

Also, RCMP were on the ball with drunk drivers in April of 2009, it was reported in the mid-month edition of the Gazette.

“A man accused of impaired driving was arrested April 6 in the Hundred Houses area of Lake Cowichan, by Lake Cowichan RCMP members responding to a disturbance call. Another impaired driver was found the following evening, when Lake Cowichan RCMP members pulled over a vehicle during a vehicle stop on Old Lake Road near the connector. The driver was arrested for impaired driving and transported to North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment where he provided breath samples of 140 mg and 150 mg of alcohol, well over the limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. The driver was also served a violation ticket for not having either a driver’s licence or insurance.”

25 years ago

“Gord Tuck excels as slalom skier” was the Lake News’s top headline on April 12, 1995.

Tuck had lost his left leg in a freak accident four years earlier but “nothing has deterred him from living a full life,” said the front page story.

“Recently his ability at skiing paid off when he took part in the Canada Games in Grand Prairie. Tuck won two silver medals in the Super ‘G’ grand slalom, and slalom. Later at Whistler he participated in the Nationals for the Disabled and competed with skiers from Japan, New Zealand, U.S., Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In this event he won three bronze medals for downhill, Super ‘G’ and slalom. He came fourth in the grand slalom. His wins qualified him for the 1996 national team which will participate at the World Cup in Austria.”

Also this week in 1995, residents appeared favourable to two new developments.

“Two developments proposed for areas east of the Village appeared to receive support from people who attended separate meetings last week,” said the story.

One meeting focused on a rezoning application covering an area along Highway 18 from Skutz Falls to Three-mile. The second meeting proposed a major development south of the highway at Paldi.

A drive along the highway should provide the answer as to how those applications ultimately ended up.

40 years ago

Poor Russell Atkinson. It was this week back in 1980 when members of the Lake Cowichan Volunteer Fire Department were forced to spray chemicals on his burning truck in an attempt to prevent permanent damage, according to the front of the April 16, 1980 edition of The Lake News.

“Atkinson was driving along South Shore Road about 10:50 a.m. Saturday when he discovered that he had no brakes. He turned into the K and R store parking lot.

“When I got out, there was a good fire going in the right front corner,” he said. He does not know what caused the fire, but said that if the damage had to be repaired in a shop it would probably cost $1,000-$1,200. No one was injured in the incident.

Also, 40 years ago this month, The Lake News reported that BCFP warned residents they’d be experimenting with herbicide chemicals, some of which had not been used around the lake before, “but the official who granted the permits says that tests have shown the chemicals to be safe.”

The article went on to say “BCFP will be trying several chemicals in specific areas to see if they can control the undergrowth that is such a problem on the west coast of Vancouver Island.”


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