‘Gone fishin’. Two Lake Cowichan boys celebrate a day off in the good, old fashioned way. Freed from school by a teachers’ professional day, with an assist from the weather, the young fishermen were the envy of passers-by who crossed the bridge on their way to work. (Lexi Bainas/Lake News, April 23, 1980)

Lake Flashback: A big win, good-bye to a friend and a theme for Lake Days

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 was a sad time around the lake this week 10 years ago as residents of various community groups bid farewell to one of their own.

“Well-liked local man Garry McPhee is being remembered this week as a hard working jack of all trades who was devoted to his family. McPhee died quickly and unexpectedly April 12 after going into cardiac arrest, a couple of days after first noticing a general discomfort,” read the front page story on the April 21 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette. “Dena’s passion for theatre is one of the things Garry jumped at the chance of getting involved in. The two started the local theatre group The Lakeside Players in 1984 with a performance of A Christmas Carol, followed by many more plays in the years that followed.”

McPhee also was well known for his work with Cowichan Lake Recreation at the Lake Cowichan Arena as well as in the engineering department at the Youbou Sawmill.

Also this week a decade ago, “Two Honeymoon Bay residents were taken to hospital April 10, after the pickup truck they were driving eastbound on the Gordon River Mainline about one kilometre west of Honeymoon Bay went into the ditch and struck a tree. They were believed to have been trapped inside for some time before being discovered by the occupant of a passing vehicle. It is believed that alcohol and speed were factors in the collision. It is believed that seat belts were not being worn,” though police were still investigating at the time the story appeared in the Gazette.

25 years ago

The top headline of the Wednesday, April 26, 1995 Lake News was “We get $2,000 grant to deal with vandalism.”

“Lake Cowichan has been granted $2,000 to assess and respond to violence says P. Reynolds of the central Vancouver Island union board of health. An ‘innovative violence needs assessment and response program’ will be offered to two residents in the Lake Cowichan area,” she said.

“The program is to have two components. The first will be intended to increase knowledge around violence and anger. The second will be to gather information to develop a program to deal with violence in the area. The grant was one of nine made in the board’s jurisdiction.”

From that serious headline to one that was much more fun: “Mom, look what I won!!!”

What a surprise for this Lake Cowichan family!

“Her mom never thought she’d win! Twelve-year-old Kathryn Burke amazed her mom by winning $10,000 in cash and prizes last week. She and her friend Jessie Eckert, 12, play a game on YTV and ‘I got a phone call from Toronto that I had won’, says Katie. Her mom, Janis, couldn’t believe it. Katie’s dad, Randall, says he checked to make sure it wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t. So Katie will shortly be a rich 13-year-old and can treat the family.”

40 years ago

The Lake News of Wednesday, April 23, 1980 introduced the theme of the upcoming Lake Days celebrations: ‘ethnic’.

“Cowichan Lake Days has a theme. The exact catchphrase has not yet been selected, but the theme is centred around Lake Cowichan’s diverse ethnic make-up. The theme was adopted from a suggestion of two local women that the three-day celebration pay tribute to the United Nations.

“The committee adopted that proposal to our ‘ethnic’ theme,” according to Lake Days Chairman Al Lundgren. Lundgren announced that the two women, Leona Portlance and Grace Slobodan have been declared the winners in the “find the theme” contest and will be awarded the prizes of free tickets to the Lady of the Lake ball.

The goal of the theme, Lundgren said was to give merchants and parade entrants lots of scope for costumes and decor.

Also in mid-April, 1980, “Cowichan Lake mayor Ken Douglas, speaking bluntly to a dinner meeting of the Cowichan Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, warned members…not to expect tourism to become the second most important money producer in this area.”

My how things have changed in the last 40 years!

“Tourism in this area is not the answer,” Douglas said. “We’re talking about a pipe-dream in one sense, and, in another sense, we’re looking at a type of adjunct to Shawnigan Lake or Victoria and I don’t like that solution at all,” he was quoted as saying in the April 23, 1980 Lake News.

“Chamber takes aim at ‘carpetbagger issue’” was also a front page headline in the April 23, 1980 edition of the Lake News.

The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce has decided to protest against “important” jobs here being held by individuals living outside of the area.

“Jim Colwell, the chamber’s past presidents said…that too many ‘decision-makers are living outside of the village.’”

It was nothing personal, Colwell said, but the men who held “important” jobs weren’t taking particular issues into account simply because they weren’t living here.


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