Kody Bruinsma, Craig Worthington, and Barney Edgar are a few of the 20 or so volunteers who were helping repair the roof on the Royal Canadian Legion building in Lake Cowichan over the weekend. Materials were donated by Rona in Cobble Hill, with the use of a crane donated by Andrew Poland Crane and Hauling of Cobble Hill. (Gazette photo)

Lake Flashback: Forrest to Greece for Olympic flame, Cowichan River needs TLC, and log salvaging from lake begins

Lots of connections to the past in this week’s stories

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas 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:

“Mayor Forrest going to Greece to retrieve Olympic flame” was, not surprisingly, a huge story in the Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

Pretty cool was how most Lakers viewed that as excitement about Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympics was growing.

“The mayor of Lake Cowichan, along with two other B.C. mayors, gets to go to Athens, Greece at the end of October to officially retrieve the Olympic flame and bring it back to B.C. Ross Forrest’s name was drawn out of a hat on Friday at the Union of BC Municipalities in Vancouver and he was so excited he really doesn’t remember much of what was said after that.”

“I’m on cloud nine,” Forrest said Friday afternoon. “It’s like winning the lottery for me. It’s awesome.”

He doesn’t know that many details, but he will be heading to Greece to retrieve the torch on Oct. 29, following the ceremonial lighting of the flame on Oct. 22 in Athens and a short relay through Greece.

A celebration will then be held in Victoria on Oct. 30 that kicks off the relay through B.C.

The Olympic torch goes through Lake Cowichan sometime on Oct. 31 and plenty is planned here for that day.

“I think it will help put Lake Cowichan on the map,” said Forrest. “It’s nice that some of the smaller communities get this chance.”

The flame will spend a total of 27 days in B.C. on its 45,000-kilometre, 106-day journey across Canada, carried by 3,500 torchbearers. It will be run through 268 of B.C.’s communities and places of interest, 50 of which have been designated as celebration communities.

“Congratulations to these three community leaders who will now be ambassadors for all B.C. communities, and sharing our common goal of ensuring as many communities as possible have a chance to experience the flame,” said John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

“This invitation to these three community leaders to join the team going to Greece is our way to include all of B.C. in the excitement and to show our pride and say thank you to B.C. communities for their support.’”

25 years ago:

In The Lake News of Oct. 5, 1994, we learn that an important meeting was laying plans for the future of Cowichan Lake and River.

“A major meeting that may lead to ‘grass roots’ planning to preserve Lake Cowichan and its future has been held, says MLA Jan Pullinger.”

She called the meeting in her Duncan office. It was attended by local government representatives —Lake Cowichan, CVRD. North Cowichan, and others — and those of the provincial government. The latter represented Municipal Affairs, Water Management, Parks, Health, Environment, and Agriculture.

“Interest has to be roused among the public to protect the river, she said.

“People should not believe that the government is going to do it all though,” she warned. “The Cowichan is one of the most important rivers and we need to make sure it is protected.”

Concern has been continuously expressed locally about protection of the river and its watershed. It was this concern that led to a proposal some years ago to form a larger municipality with jurisdiction over the lake and its environs. The proposal was defeated in a referendum.

At present, no one body has authority over the lake and river, and so it is difficult to pass regulations protecting the whole area. Nor can they be enforced.

40 years ago:

“Mills get new lease on life” said the headline on the leading story in The Lake News of Wednesday, Oct. 3, 1979.

A multi-million dollar log salvage operation will add new life to the operation of existing mills, the manager of a newly established Mesachie Lake firm said here.

Al Nichols, general manager of International Marine Logging, which purchased the old Stone property at Mesachie, said Tuesday the firm will operate in the Cowichan Lake area “indefinitely” after establishing a base for its planned province wide operations.

The company has secured contracts with major mill operators in the area to supply them with hundreds of thousands of units of logs to be salvaged from Cowichan and Bear Lakes. In addition, Nichols said, along with purchasing most of the property surrounding Mesachie Lake, the company bought the logs resting on the bottom.

Nichols suggested that establishment of the operation here would benefit the area with employment — two shifts a day of four men each each — and would add life to area mills which are in need of saw logs.

“We will be providing wood to BCFP and WFI to extend their operating life,” said Nichols, adding that five-year contracts to provide them with logs were signed with those firms, plus Pacific Logging. Negotiations are underway with Crown Zellerbach to strike similar deals, he said.

Nichols declined to provide an estimate of the value of that timber which will be salvaged from Cowichan and Bear Lakes but said that International Marine Logging had spent “a quarter of a million dollars on an underwater survey” that had been started four years ago…But in any event, the company would be in the area for at least 15 years.

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