Check out this photo from the Feb. 13 front page of the ‘Lake News’ back in 1980. ‘Things are looking up for supports of St. Valentine and Feb. 14 at A.B. Greenwell School. Some of the Grade 2 and 3 students who surprised their teachers with a giant Valentine this week are left to right: Jasie Grewal, Steven Bitze, Wendy Rudiger, Julia Turner, Raminder Sandhy, Rena Grewal, Kristen Demings, Pauline Lundgren and Kristine Whyte.

LAKE FLASHBACK: Valentines Day, visitor’s centre and more

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.

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This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

In the news in the Feb. 10, 2010 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette was the headline: “Funding shortfall could jeopardize visitor info centre”

The story was that concerns about the future of the Cowichan Lake visitor info centre were not going to be answered by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

A recent plea by Cowichan Lake South director Ian Morrison to divert funding from the regional tourism fund was met with a flat “no”. Morrison told the board the Cowichan Lake centre is growing due to increasing visitor traffic at the same time the Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce is questioning its ability to subsidize it. Morrison said he would like to see some of the $76,000 the lake area contributes to regional tourism diverted to the info centre.

“I do not want to see this info centre close,” he said at the meeting, later adding that he considers it a priority to establish a sub-regional tourism function to allow places like the Cowichan Lake area, with its local knowledge and expertise, to do promotions specific to the smaller area. “And I don’t mean just to run the local visitor info centre, but also to promote its own events. You can’t promote the west Cowichan area as well from the central centre. This is a timely issue and the taxpayers should know whether they want to pay more taxes for this.”

The board, however, wasn’t biting. Several directors said the regional tourism function serves a different purpose — marketing Cowichan as a whole — and local tourism initiatives are still the responsibility of local bodies.

25 years ago

The Feb. 8, 1995 edition of the Lake News was full of bad news. At least the front page anyway.

The headlines: “Whatever happened to the park Dashwood contributed to the people?”, “LCSS is broken into”, “Who stole bicycle?”, and “Terrible smell: They dumped sewage” were all on the front page.

First to the park story: Back on April 13, 1971 council accepted the gift of a forested piece of land from George Dashwood. Hazel Beech now proposes to write to tell him what has happened to his park which he says was obviously meant to be maintained in perpetuity in forest.

In 1992 the Village, she told the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers Association, swapped land, including parkland to create two housing lots. A house has already been built on one lot and the other lot is for sale. Beech, once an alderman, said she obtained a copy of the 1971 minutes in which the deal with Dashwood is recorded. The land was given to the Village provided it was “left in a natural wooded state for park purposes,” said Beech, quoting the minutes.

Dashwood expected underbrush to be cleared by the scouts, but that was all.

“It’s not like the little park it was. It’s completely changed,” said Beech.

Meanwhile, LCSS is broken into, as well.

Stereo equipment, the value of which has not been revealed, was stolen from Lake Cowichan Secondary School Saturday between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Police say that someone broke into the music room by the window on the west side. Exterior doors were damaged and stereo components are missing.

But the worst was the theft of a school-child’s bike

Who stole the bicycle? the Feb. 8, 1995 Lake News asked.

Last week a child’s mountain bike was stolen from under the eaves of the house at the end of McDonald Road. It was a big loss because it’s needed to go to school and the single mom can’t afford to buy another one. The bike is not full size and has no gears. Bikes are often taken for joy riding and then pushed in the bushes or left on the street. Will you please watch out for this one? If you find it, a nine-year-old boy’s tears will dry up and the sun will come up.

And finally in the string of bad news this time in 1995, Roger Hamilton, a member of the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers’ Association, said last week that a private company that cleans septic tanks was seen emptying sewage into the Village system.

Presumably the sewage came from septic tanks and CVRD areas F or I. Hamilton told a Ratepayers’ Association meeting that the sewage was emptied into manholes behind the arena and “the smell was terrible”.

He said that a complaint was lodged with the Village at the time.

40 years ago

The front page of the Feb. 13 edition of the Lake News was full of love and loss. The photo was of darling school children, creating a giant valentine for their teachers while one of the top stories was of a long-time Lake Cowichan School District staffer leaving.

“The man who served as School District secretary-treasurer for over 10 years will be leaving Lake Cowichan for another post next month,” said the story. “Terry Kirk officially handed in his resignation to school trustees Feb. 5. his last day with the district will be March 7.

“His next post will be with the Saanich school district.”

Speaking of losses, the poor returns of spawning fish prompted the provincial Fish and Wildlife Branch to ban the killing of wild steelhead on all Vancouver Island rivers for the rest of the season back in 1980.

The action was taken following a branch assessment of extremely poor returns of the sea-going rainbow trout.

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