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
It was a big day a decade ago as a “Wealth of logging history” was loaded into the Kaatza Station Museum, according to the July 14, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette.
Kaatza Station Museum volunteers were hard at work in the heat Thursday, July 8, hauling a few car loads full of boxes and filing cabinets, as well as a refrigerator into the museum’s Bell Tower School. The piles, overflowing from a few vehicles, had come all the way from Duncan’s United Steelworkers Hall, formerly called the International Woodworkers of America (IWA) Hall, on a long-term loan to the museum.
“They’re selling the building,” Kaatza Station Museum curator Barbara Simkins said of the United Steelworkers Hall. “We were afraid [the material] would get lost, and this is important.” The piles of materials include photographs and other artifacts from the IWA’s long history in the Cowichan Lake area.
Page two of the July 14, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette had CVRD Area F director Ian Morrison pointing from across the street to a new traffic camera set up on Highway 18 by the Skutz Falls turnoff.
“Looking way ahead to winter driving safety, the Ministry of Transportation has installed a new camera on Highway 18 at the Skutz Falls turnoff in order to help drivers better plan their winter trips to and from the Cowichan Lake area. The images the camera will be taking will be available online at www.images.drivebc.ca/bchighwaycam, a website that is updated every couple of minutes.
“It’ll help the whole area, so people can be safe when they’re traveling this road,” CVRD director Ian Morrison said of Highway 18.
“Morrison, whose electoral Area F includes Skutz Falls, has been lobbying for a camera at that location for over a year, and happily announced his success last week with the newly installed camera.”
“It’ll ensure safety on this road.”
25 years ago
Was it the start of the Island Corridor Foundation?
It was in the Lake News of July 12, 1995 that then town counsellor Jack Peake announced his belief the E&N railway should be taken over by the provincial government.
“I think the province should take over the ownership of the E&N,” he told the Lake News when asked to comment on the new act introduced by MLA Jan Pullinger in the B.C. Legislature.
“Peake is a member of an unofficial group of municipal officials which is interested in the future of the E&N,” the story continued.
“I think the Act is a step in the right direction,” he said.
“I believe the train runs in the wrong direction. It should start in Courtenay and run to Victoria. Originally it was intended to take the line to Campbell River and on to Port Hardy. We should be looking at the best way to run the line. Perhaps some extra shorter runs would be beneficial.”
“Peak suggested that the right-of-way might be a valuable asset for public transportation in the future.”
Twenty-five years later, the people are still wondering what will become of the E&N.
It was a disappointing time for the Lakeside Players but they had a great time anyway at the 62nd Annual Provincial Theatre Festival in Kamloops this time 25 years ago.
The group took their production of Odd Couple to the festival but didn’t win any awards.
“We had the only full house of the week,” said director Dena McPhee.
She also noted that Lake Cowichan Mayor Earle Darling and his wife Marjorie attended the performance and even personally picked up the entire cast’s tab at a local restaurant later.
40 years ago
History sure isn’t repeating itself when it comes to this story from 40 years ago.
“Lake Cowichan gas prices rank among lowest in province: survey” was the headline of The Lake News of July 9, 1980. Don’t we all wish.
But those low prices were needed as another big bold headline on the front page of the same edition was “Market slump forces 1,600 loggers home.”
That’s some perfect timing for a lot of laid off workers.
“Most woods operations will be shut down earlier than usual this summer and the early shut down was criticized Tuesday by a union official. Ken McEwan, business agent for International Woodworkers of American Local 1-80, said that the union doesn’t accept what some see as too-casual a closure by companies.
“If we want to shut down an operation, we have to have a supervised strike vote, but when the company decides they don’t want to do business, everyone just accepts it,” McEwan said in an interview. “We don’t accept that.”
“About 1,600 loggers and sawmill workers in the Cowichan Lake area will be subject to layoffs which started earlier than usual this summer. In previous years, layoffs — usually because of forest fire hazards — started in August.”