Freeman of the town remembered

The Cowichan Lake area lost one of its most esteemed historians last week, with the death of long-time resident Barry Volkers.

  • Jan. 31, 2011 7:00 p.m.
Long-time Cowichan Lake resident Barry Volkers holds his Key To the City as he poses for a photo with his wife Lou Volkers

Long-time Cowichan Lake resident Barry Volkers holds his Key To the City as he poses for a photo with his wife Lou Volkers

The Cowichan Lake area lost one of its most esteemed historians last week, with the death of long-time resident Barry Volkers.

“Barry, in one word, was a gentleman,” Kaatza Station Museum curator Barbara Simkins said. “He was very polite, of the old school, and always had a nice word for everyone.”

Barry had started work at the Western Forest Industries sawmill in Honeymoon Bay in 1951, after moving to Canada from Holland at the age of 28.

Upon the mill’s closure in 1981, Barry retired, dedicating a greater portion of his time toward volunteering with the Kaatza Historical Society, where he had been involved since its inception in 1975.

“He had a true love of history – particularly the Cowichan Valley history,” Simkins said.

Although Barry helped build and maintain the museum’s buildings, his main contribution to the museum has been its archives, which he started with fellow archivist Trevor Green.

“It was one little room, and it has grown into three rooms of archival material, and he’s responsible for it,” Simkins said. “He just did an amazing amount of things.”

His work in the museum’s archives was inspired, at least in part, by Barry’s strong distaste of seeing things thrown away, Simkins said. There was more than one occasion when spontaneous road trips took place in order to save items from garbage dumps.

“I remember one time he came flying into the museum saying that they were tearing down a building that housed company records and he had to get them out right away. He had found someone with a truck and off they went on their rescue mission. This type of thing happened on a regular basis with Barry. He was passionate about our history,” Simkins wrote, on the museum’s website.

Barry also helped establish the Heritage Advisory Committee, was president of the Kaatza Historical Society for a period of time in the ‘80s, and was part of the now defunct Cowichan Valley Eco-Museum.

Former mayor of Lake Cowichan and current Kaatza Station Museum volunteer Don Gordon worked with Barry at the Honeymoon Bay sawmill, until it closed in 1981.

“Without him, I don’t know what we’ll do,” Don said, of the Kaatza Sation Museum’s team of volunteers and staff.

“He was so dedicated to the museum, and heritage in our town. He will be missed,” Kaatza Historical Society’s current president Pat Foster said.

One highlight in Barry’s list of Cowichan Lake community accomplishments came about in 2008, when he received the key to the city, becoming a freeman of the town.

With only two people before him having received such recognition, including Archie Greenwell and Tom Gordon, Don said that it goes to show what high esteem the Cowichan Lake community bestowed upon Barry.

“That is an honour that is rarely bestowed,” Don said.

Other awards Barry received over the years included a BC Heritage Award, the Nichole Stock Memorial Award for Community Service, the TimberWest Regional Heritage Award, and in 2009 he was recognized by the BC Museum’s Association with the prestigious Golden Anniversary Service Award.

In a short autobiography Barry prepared, he noted many things have changed over the years, in the Cowichan Lake area. Whereas he used to know everyone in the area, now, there are mostly retired people. There has also been a lot of development.

“There was a time when there wasn’t a road to Honeymoon Bay, only a trail,” he wrote. “Charlie March, who was a pioneer farmer at Honeymoon Bay, used to bring his cows in to Lake Cowichan on a row boat. Things have changed since then!”

A memorial service for Barry will be held on Friday, February 4, at 2 p.m. in the Lake Cowichan United Church, where Barry and his wife Lou, of 58 years, were both members.

Just Posted

The province has come through with funding for Duncan Manor’s renewal project. (File photo)
Funding comes through for Duncan Manor’s renewal project

Money will come from the province’s Community Housing Fund

The former St. Joseph’s School site will remain an art studio at least into early next year. It will take some time before being converted to an addictions recovery community. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Addiction recovery facility will be all about building community together

Society on a clear path with members’ experiences to provide valuable help

Seniors in the Cowichan Valley are being moved into the new Hamlets. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
New Hamlets in Duncan admitting seniors

Residential-care facility has 88 beds

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
Arrests continue to mount at Fairy Creek as protesters complain about RCMP tactics

Number of arrests approach 200 in ongoing southern Vancouver Island logging protest

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Most Read