A lot of things have changed in Lake Cowichan in 75 years.
Once strictly a forestry town, Lake Cowichan continues to evolve into a tourist mecca during the summer, and a diverse lakeside community year-round.
With the contraction of the forest industry, there have certainly been hard times, both in Lake Cowichan and surrounding communities. Schools have closed, as the population of families dwindled, and other businesses also went dark as the demographics and the economic reality changed. But we think Lake Cowichan is now emerging back into increased prosperity, as this jewel of a community is being discovered by retirees and families looking for a respite from the big city rush and expense.
Cowichan Lake Recreation Centre sprouted, the Centennial Park ballfields are a hive of activity, Ts’uubaa-asatx Square is a town gathering place and a symbol of a growing relationship with the Lake Cowichan First Nation and the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives documents the area’s history.
Someone from 75 years ago driving through town probably wouldn’t recognize it today — in a good way. Standards hold art banners, and flower beds bring colour to boulevards and street corners, welcoming residents and tourists alike. No longer is this just an industrial town, it is one of the most beautiful spots on Vancouver Island, though still something of a hidden gem.
Thinking back over all of the changes that have come and gone in the last 75 years, makes one wonder what town will look like in another 75. Or how about just 25 years from now when Lake Cowichan turns 100?
Lake Cowichan already boasts charging stations for electric cars, but will there be such stations in front of every store in the years to come? Will service stations exclusively offer an electric charge 75 years from now? Will we even still be in cars at all?
Town hall is set to get a refurbishment that will be a considerable upgrade for that end of town, and the face of the community. There are plans unfurling for a seniors home for Lake Cowichan. And the idea of a new arterial road, which would open up a whole new area has been floated in recent days.
As for the lake and the river that define the town, it is clear that we will need to step up if we want to preserve them for another 75 years. They are under a threat from climate change that cannot be underestimated or ignored. For Lake Cowichan they are more than just a resource. They are central to both the town’s identity and its very being. In the years to come we must protect this beating heart.