It was 1958 and teens were listening to songs like the Everly Brothers hits Bird Dog and All I have to do is Dream while the Kingston Trio’s folk song, Tom Dooley was also at the top of the charts.
1958 was the year that future Canadian hero and marathon runner Terry Fox was born. It was also the year, and many may still remember this, that Ripple Rock was blown sky-high. Located in Seymour Narrows between Vancouver Island (near Campbell River) and the mainland, the explosion took place at 9:31:02 a.m. on April 5, 1958. The massive explosion displaced 635,000 metric tons of rock and water. It was noted then as one of the largest non-nuclear planned explosions on record. (It turned out to be the second largest.)
In the Village of Lake Cowichan, life went on as usual. The local Centennial Committee was publicly commended for “bringing near-completion to our Centennial Park.” The 3rd Annual Boat Regatta had been deemed highly successful while Murdoch Nicholson of Honeymoon Bay (older brother of Ray Wear) was the lucky winner of the regatta boat draw. It was also noted that Lance Lingren won the Silver Cup trophy for the local open outboard boat race. A recent vote by members of the local Industrial Woodworkers of America Union (I.W.A.), voted down, by “96 per cent, the conciliation boards majority award.”
Mesachie Lake resident Karen Ross, (sister of local Brenda Cartmell) Lady of the Lake for 1957, had recently been accepted as Queen of the Cowichan Valley — which was sponsored by the City of Duncan and the Duncan United Church.
The Old Boys, older members of the local Kinsmen Club, conducted their last meeting of the season. Present were Bing Wise (a former mayor of the village and father of Rocky Sr.), Adrian Pecknold, Ernie Ardley (Lake News founder), Allan Anderson, Fred Olson (father of Peter Jr.), Swan Neva and Vic Palmer. The service club had recently completed repairs to Riverside Park and painted the new Centennial Park fence.
Several of the elementary school teaching staff disclosed their plans for the summer holidays. Among those attending summer school sessions in Victoria was Miss Doris Dien (later became Mrs. Henry Nash) while school principal Len Plater and vice-principal, E. Rithaler, were attending education workshops in Vancouver.
One of the most beloved local teachers of all time was Miss Bertha Fowler who planned a trip to Mexico. It was noted that lifetime resident Mrs. Gladys Howe (nee Lomas), a charter member of the Stanley Gordon chapter of the I. O. D. E., deserved a big thank-you for her good works including the voluntary time she spent teaching English to new Canadians. She was born in 1901 in a cabin beside the old Riverside Inn. She died in her home across the street from the Riverside Inn in1983.
Many businesses throughout town advertised in the local newspaper. The ads promoted sales such as suntan shirts for $2.98 and suntan pants at $4.98, which were available at Bourne’s Men’s Wear (located on the spot of present day Jakes at the Lake — former Rails End Restaurant). Two heads of lettuce went for .25¢ at the Red & White grocery store and a good home cooked meal could be had at the Riverside Hotel dining room.
Last but not least, the town’s folk were looking forward to the upcoming 15th Annual Sports Day celebrations. Popular events like log burling and the official Soap Box Derby were again on the agenda.
Another popular event was the Parent Teacher Association sponsored Track and Field events for all ages. The official program listed other events planned including a parade, the Lady of the Lake contest, and fun events included nail driving, pie eating, pillow fighting, greased pole climbing, volleyball and East Indian sword dance.
The Legion sponsored a bike and tricycle demo while the local fire department members staged fireman water sports. There were also baseball games (junior and senior), a tug-of-war and a Saturday night dance. No doubt about it, the village was a thriving and lively community in 1958.
Research Kaatza Station Museum and Rolli Gunderson archive collection.