First Princess Holly Hughes, Lady of the Lake Bryanne Kitagawa, and Second Princess Ally Earle pose for a photo in Saywell Park shortly after their crowning during 2010’s Lake Days events. (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 16, 2010)

Lake Flashback: Lady of the Lake, a smack in the face and draft day

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

Just like this year thanks to COVID-19, tourists were getting the short end of the stick a decade ago as well, in Lake Cowichan, but for a different reason.

The Lake Cowichan Gazette’s Tyler Clarke explained in the June 16, 2010 edition:

“A speed bump has been placed upon Lake Cowichan’s lucrative tourist season this summer, with a lack of federal funds forcing Lake Cowichan’s Tourist Information Centre to likely close for two days of the week.

“We’ve never been closed any time during the summer, but this year we’re going to have to close,” Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce president Jim Humphrey said. Typically, the federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs program provides enough money to hire summer students, but this is the second summer in a row this hasn’t been the case. This comes as a particularly hard blow this year, as the centre has had a particularly successful tourist season thus far, going up 2,000 people using the centre’s services from this time last year, from 8,000 to this year’s 10,000. This is half of last year’s total of 20,000 people.

“Very few of the chambers got any money, and a lot of us rely on them for summer students. We were all shut out,” Humphrey said.

There was good news around that time, as well, though.

With a week’s worth of excitement and a few months’ worth of practices, this year’s three Lady of the Lake winners were crowned at Saywell Park, Saturday, June 12, 2010.

“While emotional excitement washed over this year’s 11 candidates, last year’s Lady of the Lake, First Princess, and Second Princess handed their crowns over to the new recipients of the honour. This year’s Second Princess is Ally Earle, with Holly Hughes being awarded the place of First Princess, and Bryanne Kitagawa becoming this year’s Lady of the Lake.

“Shock,” Kitagawa said when asked for a response, after receiving her crown from last year’s Lady of the Lake Sydney Rabey. “Happy shock. It’s a relief. I’m excited for this next year.”

“As a crowd of photographers gathered to photograph this year’s Lady of the Lake royalty, who have a busy year ahead of them representing Lake Cowichan in various parades throughout B.C., as well as other events, the three winners expressed excitement as to what their next year will hold. Although this year’s 11 Lady of the Lake candidates were part of a few public events before this Lake Days week, it was during this final crunch time that they became best known in the community.”

25 years ago

Head’s up! The annual ball tournament was front page news on the Lake News of June 21, 1995.

“They said ‘Head’s up’ and then it hit her. Anne Newman, one of the stars of The Odd Couple, insists she’ll be in the final local performance of the play Saturday night — though she was hit in the face by a ball Sunday at Mesachie Lake. A Duncan fireman lifted the ball 225 feet over the fence. She was on her way to keep records of the firemen’s auction, a job she insisted on completing with an ice bag on her face.”

It was during the annual firefighters’ ball tournament fundraiser for muscular dystrophy.

She said “I remember people shouting ‘head’s up’ as the ball came at us. I lifted my head and I thought my cheek bone was broken.”

Newman recovered and the firefighters raised another $22,500 for the fight against muscular dystrophy.

“In the ball game final, Lake Cowichan firemen defeated Youbou firemen. According to Rod Peters that makes it 14 wins for Lake Cowichan and 12 for Youbou since the tournament started years ago.”

Also 25 years ago this week, the front page of the Lake News of June 21, 1995 declared, “Village fattens up in time for fall”.

Yep, much like poor Anne Newman’s face, Lake Cowichan was about to swell.

“Lake Cowichan is getting fatter — more than 300 acres fatter. Yes, that’s acres not kilos.

“The provincial government has approved the expansion of Village boundaries to include Block 200, owned by Johel Brothers Ltd., and the west half of Section 6, owners Bon Street Vancouver. All that’s needed to make it official is the signature of the Lieutenant-Governor.”

40 years ago

Big news graced the cover of the June 18, 2010 Lake News as “Brad Palmer makes it all the way to NHL”.

That’s right. Lake Cowichan’s Brad Palmer had been drafted.

“‘It’s really exciting. It seems like a dream come true,’” he said.

Palmer was picked “by the Minnesota North Stars in the first round (16th overall) of the National Hockey League draft.

Palmer wasn’t the only Laker picked however.

Brian Lundbery, 20, was chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the ninth round.

Also on the front page was “Chemical prompts walkout”. That’s not as fun as a local kid getting drafted, that’s for sure.

“Fears about a possible danger to workers from a chemical used to preserve lumber caused a one-day walkout at the BCFP Youbou sawmill Friday, June 13. The planer crew had become concerned that they were exposing themselves more than necessary to the chemical Woodbrite, according to IWA Local 1-80 president Roger Stanyer.

“They walked off after lunch Friday and by 3:30 p.m. the rest of the day shift and the afternoon shift had joined their protest.

“Maintenance workers returned to work over the weekend, and the production crew was back on the job Monday, according to mill manager Spencer Brigden. About 300 men were affected by the walkout.”

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