Looking back on the illustrious Youbou of the past

Today, as Youbou and its residents look hopefully toward the future of their community, we look back several decades, to a Youbou of the past.

Part of Youbou’s Industrial Timber Mill (ITM) can be seen in this 1940s view of the mill craneway

Part of Youbou’s Industrial Timber Mill (ITM) can be seen in this 1940s view of the mill craneway

Today, as Youbou and its residents look hopefully toward the future of their community, we look back several decades, to a Youbou of the past.

Among the several communities that dot the shoreline of our beautiful lake, Youbou has always been the most distinct. Not only does Youbou “get more sun and less rain ” (as many continue to believe) than the rest of us, its residents have always been proud, fiercely independent and unique.

A matter of opinion?

Yes, but Youbou, with its historically down-to-earth hard-working residents, has possessed a remarkable and undeniable sort of pizzazz since its beginnings.

Set below Mount Holmes, the community was built along a beautiful strip of shoreline. Its early residents were at that time unaware of the future value of a “southern exposure” location, so fondly and fully embraced.

In 1981, the population of Youbou was approximately 1,200, with the majority maintaining full-time residency due to the close proximity to their place of employment.

It was a company town, and it had been that way since its beginnings. In 1913, the town site for Youbou and the sawmill were logged off by the first steam skidder, which was brought in to the Cowichan Lake area by Empire Lumber Company.

Within a short period of time, the company had logged right up to the Cottonwood Creek area. Over the years, many logging companies have come and gone, but the town remained.

The 1980s version of Youbou had two grocery stores, a service station, pizza parlour, and a pub. It also had the Cedar Inn restaurant, which was frequented by “outsiders” as well as local residents; the weekly buffet often being the drawing card.

It also had a marina, at least two motels, as well as the company-built community hall, with its bowling alley – still in operation today.

There was a Girl Guide hall, a post office, and summer swimming lessons, which were held at the scenic Arbutus Park.

The company-financed volunteer fire department was, according to W. Gold (source: Logging as it Was, 1984, by Wilmer Gold) modern and fully equipped.

The heart of the community was Yount School, which was closed a few years ago but today temporarily houses the students of Lake Cowichan’s AB Greenwell Elementary School.

One of the more notable sites in Youbou’s past was Frog Rock, which was destroyed in 1974.

The monolith had been there since time immemorial, and sat in the front yard of a private residential home on Youbou Road.

With its greenish color, tone, and shape, it resembled a huge frog, which, for many years, was a treasured landmark (and was listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not). After the demise of the large boulder, a chunk of the rock was placed on display at Yount School, which took a frog as its mascot and adopted the motto, “Leap Ahead.”

To be continued in next week’s Gazette.