New pages to be unveiled of Cowichan Lake area history

The results of a year’s worth of sifting through thousands of photographs, pages of archival material, and boxes’ worth of historical items, will be unveiled during this weekend’s Heritage Days.

Kaatza Station Museum volunteer Wayne Nolan helps load a few car loads’ worth of International Woodworkers of America historical material into the museum

Kaatza Station Museum volunteer Wayne Nolan helps load a few car loads’ worth of International Woodworkers of America historical material into the museum

The results of a year’s worth of sifting through thousands of photographs, pages of archival material, and boxes’ worth of historical items, will be unveiled during this weekend’s Heritage Days.

A rundown on the importance of the material will be provided by a number of guest speakers, Saturday, May 21, at the Upper Centennial Hall, beginning at 1 p.m.

The material itself is the International Woodworkers of America 1-80 collection; Canada’s first IWA, located at Cowichan Lake. It is on extended loan from the United Steelworkers in Duncan.

Alongside volunteers – most notably Al Lundgren – Kaatza Station Museum curator Barbara Simkins has registered about 3,000 photographs thus far.

“I don’t think I’m half way through,” she said. “This whole thing will take a couple of years.”

Many of the photographs were taken from well-known photographer Wilmer Gold, and are primarily of local loggers from the 1890s to 2009.

The Saturday unveiling was initially planned as a smaller community tea, but there are many interested people in Cowichan Lake’s logging history.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Simkins said, of the upcoming event.

Emceed by Carmen Rocco, a past president of IWA 1-80, speakers will include Pat Weaver from the Lake Cowichan Heritage Commission, past IWA 1-80 president Roger Stanyer, volunteer Al Lundgren, curator Barbara Simkins, Town of Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest, MLA Bill Routley (who is also a past president if IWA 1-80), MP Jean Crowder, and Steel Workers Local 1-1937 president Darrel Wong.

Displays from the collection will be spread throughout the hall for everyone to see.

The remainder of the weekend will take a similar form to previous years, and will include various family-friendly activities.

A highlight is always the logging truck/family bicycle parade, to take place Saturday, May 21, starting at OK Tire at 11 p.m. and finishing at Saywell Park.

A community potluck dinner will take place on Sunday, at 1 p.m., at Saywell Park. In the event of rainy conditions, it’ll be brought indoors.