This front cover photo appeared in the Oct. 5

Looking back in local history

Some of the Cowichan Lake news that made headlines in the past

The Lake Cowichan Curling Club held its first bonspiel in March 1971 in the new curling complex with three rinks competing. The first event winner was the Cliff Bergstrom rink, which went through the bonspiel undefeated, winning four straight games. Along with skip Cliff Bergstrom was Dot Dalman lead, Jim Dalman second, and Bunt Bergstrom third.

Friday, August 23, 1968 marked the last day of operation for the Hillcrest Lumber Company’s (comparatively modern) Climax locomotive.

It was constructed in 1928, thus clocking in 40 years of service for Hillcrest of Mesachie Lake.

All of the property belonging to Hillcrest Lumber Company, including the loci, was up for sale while the mill, which was closed a few months earlier, was not yet fully dismantled.

 

On a sunny October day in 1966, Lakeview Avenue was the scene of a plane crash. Due to engine malfunction (the motor quit) the small plane plummeted downward, stuck a telephone pole and crashed onto the road. Pilot and plane owner Don Braithwaite — who was later praised for his calmness and ability — somehow maneuvered the plane to the safest place available, a side street bordering the Credit Union building.

Although the plane was a write off and the telephone pole damaged, there were no fatalities.

The outcome could have been a much worse had Braithwaite not been the skilled and experienced pilot he was. Moments after the crash, Alex Jessiman rushed to the scene and doused the smoldering plane with a fire extinguisher obtained from the nearby Credit Union.

The plane accident, a first for Lake Cowichan, was the talk of the town for several weeks.

 

A January 1941 issue of a local newspaper suggested that the high number of potholes (588) on a one-mile strip of the Lake Cowichan and Youbou Road should qualify as a record with Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Apparently the potholes ranged in width from 12 to 24 inches and a depth of between two to six inches. (It was noted that someone actually took a whole afternoon to count the potholes.)

 

In early 1968 Lake Cowichan’s one and only pharmacy changed hands when pharmacist Ross Scott (father of local man Dick Scott) sold the business to Larry Thorne.

Scott had purchased the pharmacy from the original owner pharmacist Harry Dreany in 1957. At that time the store was located near the present day dental office of Dr. Ken Welch. It was later relocated across South Shore Road to the (still existing) Reed Block.

Still remembered by many former students, Stanley Gordon elementary school principal Len Plater left this area in 1968 after 19 years in the district.

By September of that year, Plater and his wife, Mary, along with their three children had moved from their home on Park Road to Burnaby, B.C. where Plater had joined the faculty of Simon Fraser University.

In later years, the Platers lived in Richmond. In 2003, Plater died at age 84, two years after his wife, Mary. Three children and several grandchildren survive them.

 

Full telephone service did not come to the community of Nitinat Camp until many decades after service was brought to rest of the area. It wasn’t until April 1992 that residents of the tiny community of 48 homes, situated at the far end of Cowichan Lake, were able to place calls without being routed through a radio operator.

Residents and management of the camp and employees of the nearby Department of Fisheries and Oceans operation were finally fully connected to the outside world.

 

 

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