Ushering out an era: the 1988 removal of the CNR trestle

In 1988, decades after it was erected, the old Canadian National Railway trestle that spanned the Cowichan River and South Shore Roa

The removal of the CNR trestle in 1988 ushered out an era in Lake Cowichan

The removal of the CNR trestle in 1988 ushered out an era in Lake Cowichan

In 1988, decades after it was erected, the old Canadian National Railway trestle that spanned the Cowichan River and South Shore Road in the center of town, was removed.  The nostalgic daily sights and sounds of trains and their whistles, as well as the impact they had on the area, was over.

The reality was far different from the nostalgia that was generated that final day. Although the trestle was necessary in that it was part of the rail line from Victoria to Youbou, it was also crucial to the economy of the area. A big silver overpass, it loomed over the main street and many logging trucks passed under it on a daily basis for countless years. It was more or less taken for granted, and sometimes ignored. Sure, it wasn’t attractive, but it was a fixture in town.

Problems arose early on, as far back as the 1940s, when loaded logging trucks piled high with lumber began to hit the top of the trestle. Rather than take the position that the loads were to high, the Chamber of Commerce of the day, representing the view of the townsfolk, complained that the trestle was too low.

The Aug. 11, 1958 issue of the local newspaper, The Lake News, reported, “Fear had been expressed that logs may be knocked off logging trucks.”  The problem wasn’t so much that the loads hit the trestle at 40 miles per hour, firing “wooden missiles,” but the immediate danger to pedestrians and motorists. That was what prompted the complaints — and rightly so.

The Lake News also reported that “The CNR trestle over the main road in Lake Cowichan bares scars as a result of high loads on trucks passing underneath. Drivers expressed their opinion in not-to-delicate words.” The editor offered his own solution to the problem by recommending that motorists take an alternate route, via King George Street, Cowichan Avenue or the Wellington Avenue. The advice was not well received.

For many more years, pedestrians (including this author) and motorists dodged flying logs until 1988, when the last train from Youbou made its final run. It was with mixed emotions, as townsfolk said goodbye to the end of an era. The final act took place in September when the trestle was removed  and trucked to it’s new home at the British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre near Duncan.


Just Posted

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read