”Nicknamed ‘Roadie’ by one of the ambulance attendants who assisted with his delivery, Jerad Leelyn McArthur is the first ever baby to be born in an ambulance in Lake Cowichan. Lee Change, ambulance attendant says he heard the little cry and said ‘Thank you, Lord.’” (Lake News, Feb. 28, 1996)

”Nicknamed ‘Roadie’ by one of the ambulance attendants who assisted with his delivery, Jerad Leelyn McArthur is the first ever baby to be born in an ambulance in Lake Cowichan. Lee Change, ambulance attendant says he heard the little cry and said ‘Thank you, Lord.’” (Lake News, Feb. 28, 1996)

Flashback: Arena renos complete, a baby born on the move, and a building boom

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old newspapers with the assistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog your memory, give you that nostalgic feeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

It took a while but it finally happened. The front page of the Feb. 23, 2011 Lake Cowichan Gazette shouted: “Doors open to the renovated Cowichan Lake Sports Arena”.

The local taxpayer and grant-funded $7.6 million project was months over-schedule but still on budget.

“After months of setbacks, renovations to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena are pretty much complete. ‘It seems like it’s been a long time coming, because we had some setbacks, as you have with all major projects,’ Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission chair Sheila McFarlane said. ‘I’m anxious to see what the people of the town have to say about it… It’s the nicest looking arena on Vancouver Island.’”

What changed? Project head John Elzinga said: “The replacement of the facility roof, the creation of four new dressing rooms, a warm room area, skate shop, accessible washrooms, large entrance and reception area, meeting room, play area, playschool room, a renovation to the existing concession, and a new concrete surface in the curling rink.”

Architect Keith Tetlow later noted, “Integrating the new addition into the old facility was a challenge.”

25 years ago

Here’s a sweet story that’s got nothing to do with any of the other major events we’ve been following over the last dozen Flashbacks or so. This one comes from the Feb. 28, 1996 Lake News. The front page, in fact.

“Five-day-old Jared Leelyn McArthur made history last week as the first baby to be born in a Lake Cowichan ambulance. It was also the first delivery for ambulance attendants, Lynne Wardrope and Lee Chance.

“Cynthia Blenkin, 22-year-old mother, said she went into labour at about 2 a.m. Feb. 22. Cynthia, and her partner, Wayne McArthur left for the hospital at about 6 a.m. and decided to turn around just outside of the Village as the car had begun to stall.”

This sounds like a story made for the movies!

“I told Wayne to turn around. We then saw the ambulance and flagged them down. We caught up to them at the Esso station,” Blenkin said.

It turned out the EHS crew was just returning from a call and was headed to the gas station for coffee when they met up with the expecting couple.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

From newborns to seniors, this edition of the 1996 Lake News had it all.

“A behind-the-scenes meeting between Jan Pullinger, MLA, and Sam Beldessi, president of the Cowichan Lake Seniors Association has received a favourable response to a nursing facility and seniors’ housing,” said the promising front page story. “The intermediate care facility would have 15 nursing care beds. Olson Manor #2 would be on the second floor of the former SD 66 site opposite Olson Manor #1 at South Shore Road and King George.”

40 years ago

“High wind topples trees, knock power out in area” said a headline in the Feb. 25, 1981 Lake News.

“A fierce storm that ripped through Lake Cowichan left several areas without electricity Thursday, Feb. 19. Strong winds knocked down trees which brought down lines, cutting off service in Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, and parts of Lake Cowichan near the highway and in the Greendale area. Most of the village of Lake Cowichan itself escaped the power outages but plenty of tree limbs and debris were blown onto streets. Repairs to the downed power lines took most of the day, but power was restored by late afternoon in most places.”

The more things change the more they stay the same.

And finally, “Housing demand creates boom in construction here,” wrote my favourite Lake News staff writer Lexi Bainas.

“The Cowichan Lake area, after sitting on the sidelines watching other towns and cities grow, is experiencing a boom in real estate according to construction and real estate businessmen. New housing starts in January alone and regional area F and I are valued at $125,000, four times the 1980 monthly average of $33,000.

“Ted Johnson, the area’s largest local builder, says housing starts are higher than usual for this time of year. Johnson said he thought one big reason for the interest in this area is high land values in Victoria and Duncan. ‘A lot of people can’t afford to build in Duncan,’ he said.”

Again, the more things change the more they stay the same.


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