I think the one thing that has struck me the most about this community, is its vibrant spirit and volunteerism.
As I walked and drove around town this past week, taking in as many Lake Days activities as I possibly could, this perception was embedded even more upon my psyche.
It was not just the sheer amount of activities, the size of the parade, or the amounts of people that show up and partake, it was the smiles and enthusiasm, the almost fierce community pride, and the desire to maintain the vibrant history of the community and yet also allow for growth and change.
Having come to begin to piece together the many different hats that many community members wear, the amount of volunteer hours was evident everywhere I went. From set-up and take-down of the many events surrounding Lady of the Lake, the Lake Days dance, the grounds in Saywell Park, and the breakfast and dinner in the town, to coordinating or simply helping out with things like Idol, the Kinducky Derby, the soap box derby, road hockey, the parade, and the numerous other aspects of the festivities, it amazed me how many individuals there were who had obviously sacrificed sleep to contribute to all that had to be done.
From what I have come to understand, Lake Cowichan has seen its fair share of ups and downs, and is now working hard to pave a path into the future, one which can reflect and honour the long history of the town, but also welcome change and growth. And I can’t help but think that other communities in the province, and in fact the province as a whole, could learn a lot from this little town.
There are a few moments that stand out to me as I reflect on the past week, but one in particular.
On Sunday, the first official day of Lake Days, June 3, I went down to the Lake Cowichan Christian Fellowship Church at around 9 a.m. to see how the free breakfast was going. The sun was shining, and at the bottom of Stone Ave. there was already a pile of sand and used tires lined the side of the road in preparation for the soap box races. I was met at the church doors by Betty Sanddar, who greeted me with a smile and invited me in for a breakfast of pancakes and sausages.
I have to admit that part of me felt like a kid again, you know, when school is over for the year and you wake up early and the sunshine has that special quality as it reflects off the dewdrops on your front lawn?
Even though there were not many who turned out to enjoy the breakfast, the cooks on duty, including Sanddar, Tina Rowledge, Sylvia Johnson, and Bill Lindberg, were cheerfully chatting, cooking, and looking forward to watching the day’s races.
From my point of view, the fact that the sun managed to keep the clouds away for most of Lake Days, was a sign that the good people of this community have something to teach the rest of the world about community spirit.