They weren’t necessarily our biggest stories, but they were the ones that captured the most attention on our Facebook page. Here are the Top 10 stories on our Facebook page with the farthest reach in 2018:
10. Pioneer House fire (12.7 k people reached)
On Aug. 14 there was a fire at the popular Cowichan Bay eatery, Pioneer House. Crews from three fire halls, Cowichan Bay, Duncan, and Mill Bay were called out to extinguish the blaze. The fire began in a back room and spread to an attached building. As of the end of 2018, the restaurant remains closed.
9. Elders gather in Duncan (12.9k people reached)
It was a sight to behold as throngs of singing and drumming First Nations groups, along with Premier John Horgan and other dignitaries, took part in the B.C. Elders Gathering’s Grand Entry on July 10, filling the Island Savings Centre’s arena to capacity.
8. Drunk driving on the water (15.1k people reached)
This one wasn’t even from the Cowichan Valley but still hit our top 10 most viewed Facebook stories of the year. On Nov. 29, Port Hardy RCMP were told by the marine authority that a 10-metre long fishing vessel was being operated in “an erratic manner”. Two Port Hardy Mounties and the Coast Guard headed out to the circling boat and saw a man at the helm of the boat who seemed to be “slumped over and non-responsive.” When the Coast Guard couldn’t gain the boater’s attention, police decided to board the circling vessel. Once on board, police found that driver “grossly impaired and an open container of liquor was located nearby.”
7. Miracle rescue (16.8k people reached)
When news broke in Thailand that a young soccer team and their coach were found alive, but trapped in a flooded cave on July 2, Andrew Munoz, a paramedic and experienced spelunker from Duncan shared his own near-death experience while underground. Thankfully, both Munoz, and the Thai soccer contingent all escaped alive.
6. Ben Kilmer found dead (17.6k people reached)
Having followed the story of his peculiar disappearance since May 16, readers flocked to our website to learn about the tragic conclusion of the Ben Kilmer story. Kilmer’s family confirmed on their own Facebook page “Find Ben Kilmer” that his body was found on Oct. 17 in a remote area of the Cowichan Valley near the Chemainus River, well outside of the original search area.
5. Cougar attacks dog (18.1k people reached)
A public alert was issued by the Town of Ladysmith after a cougar was seen chasing down a dog on the morning of Sept. 10 on the Holland Creek Trail. Marty Steen was out for a run and was a few steps past two women when he heard a dog hollering. “As I’m running up the trail there’s a cougar chasing a dog towards me,” said Steen. “I probably got within five feet of it and the big cat saw me and slowly stopped and turned and went up the trail. That cat was probably six inches from that dog chasing it right on its tail.” The story garnered interest as it could have happened on any trail in the Cowichan Valley region and Vancouver Island beyond as not just outdoor enthusiasts but residents as well often share the land with wildlife.
4. Herd Road fire (24.4k people reached)
Crews from five fire halls battled a brush fire on Herd Road near Southview Terrace east of Osborne Bay Road on Aug. 10. The blaze started around 11:30 p.m., sparked by a tree on hydro lines, and quickly spread to grass and other dry vegetation nearby. Windy conditions made firefighting difficult. Most fire crews had left the scene by 2 a.m. Homes along Herd Road east of Osborne Bay were temporarily evacuated by RCMP, but there were no reports of damage to any structures.
3. B.C. Summer Games comes to Cowichan (25.3k people reached)
The latest multi-sport event hosted in the region, the 40th annual BC Summer Games officially began on Aug. 20 in the Cowichan Valley. The opening ceremonies kicked off the four-day event the evening before at Laketown Ranch. Local dancers, musicians, pipes and drums inspired, delighted and entertained not only the athletes, but the hundreds of parents, coaches, officials and volunteers in the crowd.
2. Distraught wife of missing man speaks out (54.6k people reached)
On July 6, and with few leads to go on, Tonya Kilmer, the wife of missing 41-year-old Ben Kilmer made a plea to the public for help in finding her husband from the RCMP’s headquarters in Victoria. “We are devastated. We are broken without this man. He is our everything, the core of our family. His love for us is unwavering, his devotion is unquestionable,” said Tonya, shaking with emotion. “His loss has shaken us to the core, and I need our love to shake you also so that no one remains silent.”
1. Prime Minister comes to town (141k people reached)
After making his way through protesters outside the gates of the BC Forest Discovery Centre, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thrilled a largely supportive crowd inside the facility on Aug. 4. Joined by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children, they toured the facility, posed for photos and chatted. The prime minister then took a few moments and answered a number of questions from the press about immigration, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, national security and North Korea and supply management and NAFTA talks.