Dick Newman, who was Lake Cowichan’s fire chief for 12 years, retired in October 2007. (Submitted)

Lake Flashback: Newman retires as fire chief, Lake says ‘No!’ to Charlottetown, and tragedy falls on Lake family

October ended with momentous news of various kinds in 2007, 1992, and 1977

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through oldnewspaperswiththeassistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog yourmemory, giveyouthat nostalgicfeeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was makingheadlines thisweekaround Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago:

“It’s the last fire call for Lake’s 12-year-chief Dick Newman” said the story in the Lake Cowichan Gazette Oct. 24, 2007.

“The big guy has stepped down,” began a long feature on the retiring Lake Cowichan fire chief.

“From the early days of playing lacrosse for the New Westminster Salmonbellies to his current position as the Valley’s marriage commissioner, it’s been some kind of ride. Two constants have remained throughout his life: his 40-year marriage to wife Anne and his involvement and devotion to a career in firefighting that has spanned 37 years.”

The tales followed his journey around the province, explaining how he came to Lake Cowichan and its fire department. One of the first things he noted on arrival as a firefighter at the Lake was the condition of the old fire hall, which “was attached to the town hall, it was totally inadequate. The roof leaked and one bay was in danger of falling into the river.”

In 1995, Chief Gary Demings stepped down and Newman was elected chief. A big project over the next few years was the plan to build a new fire hall and on retiring he said he was “thrilled with the results of the collaborative effort.”

25 years ago:

Two short but remarkable items from the front page of the Oct. 28, 1992 edition of The Lake News.

First, there’s “No! say Lake voters.”

This one was all about the national vote on the Charlottetown Accord, which planned to revamp Canada’s constitution.

“Cowichan Lake district voted 76.1 per cent against the Charlottetown agreement in Monday’s referendum — one of the highest NO votes in British Columbia. There were 22.64 per cent YES votes and 11 spoiled ballots. In all 2,477 votes were cast — a large turnout, reported Carolyne Austin, deputy returning officer.

The other shorter item was: “School board says ‘No’ to condoms”. It said a motion to reject condom machines in LCSS was made by Trustee Gary Gunderson…and [he] added that “he felt the board should be concentrating on education. This received the full support of the trustees.”

40 years ago:

The Oct. 26, 1977 edition of The Lake News announced sadly, “Lake faller killed at Port Renfrew”.

Unfortunately, such stories were not uncommon with so many people working in the woods around Cowichan Lake in those days.

“Lem Traer, who worked as a faller for B.C. Forest Products’ Renfrew Division for the past four years, died shortly after 9:30 Thursday morning when the tree he was falling crushed him. Traer was working in the Pandora Creek area on the west coast side of the Renfrew logging division, a union spokesman said.

“Workers’ Compensation Board officials in Vancouver said WCB inspector Jack Creasey had the investigation ‘well in hand’. Creasey declined comment on the accident.

“Bob Rogers, IWA Local 1-80 second vice-president said the accident was the second involving the death of a faller in this region this year. A Port Alberni faller killed in February was the other casualty. Traer is survived by his wife Marilyn, a Palsson Elementary School teacher, daughter Susan, and son Mark.

“He was born and raised in Lake Cowichan. Traer was a scout leader for the last four years.”


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