Youbou

oubou is approximately 38 km west of Duncan on highway 18. There is close to 1,450 people living in this beautiful little community on Cowichan Lake. It is part of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. On Highway 1 just north of Duncan turn onto Highway 18. From there its only a 25 minute drive to reach the junction at the Town of Lake Cowichan. Proceed by down Youbou Road (the right fork) 10 km to Youbou.

The community of Youbou is the second largest community on Cowichan Lake. Youbou was named for the original mill owners, Mr. Yount and Mr. Bouton. Today, the mill is gone but the town lives on. The town has an over 60 year old church, an elementary school, a volunteer fire department, and a Community Hall which was built in 1937. The Hall is a center point for community events such as dances, playschool, 5 & 10 pin bowling, sports and children’s programs and much more. The Youbou Little League Recreation Park is host to a number of baseball games during the spring/summer seasons and also has a playground, horseshoe pits and picnic tables.

Every year the Youbou Regatta is held in the middle of August. It is Youbou’s premier festival with dances, a sunset cruise, parades and more. The scenic Arbutus Park right on the lake in Youbou is the host to many of the events.

Parks at Youbou

Youbou has all sorts of parks. You can go swimming at Arbutus Park, hiking on Bald Mountain at Marble Bay and get away from it all on the secluded beaches of Price Park and more. Most of the parks in this part of Cowichan Lake are looked after by Youbou Parks and Recreation. Additional information about these parks is available on our Youbou Parks page.

Youbou Parks

Campsites at Youbou

Wilderness Campsites are located just west of Youbou allowing easy access to this community and the beauty of the Lake. More Information about these campgrounds is available from our campground list.

Come see for yourself. Youbou on Vancouver Island where the people are friendly, time slows to a halt, the air is fresh and the water is blue.

History of Youbou

The community of Youbou, 10 km from Lake Cowichan on North Shore Road, is the second largest community on Cowichan Lake. Youbou was named for the original mill owners, Mr. Yount and Mr. Bouton.

Logging in the area dates back as early as 1907 by a company later known as Empire Lumber Company who secured large blocks of timber around Caycuse and Youbou by building the E&N Railway to Lake Cowichan, which was completed in 1913.

In 1913, Empire Lumber Company build a small mill in Cottonwood (Youbou) to mill smaller logs, and, starting in 1918, many improvements were made to the mill. By 1922 the mill was able to cut 30,000 ft. per day and employ 30 men.

A recession in late 1922 resulted in the mill closing until 1925 when the CP Railway was completed to Kissinger Lake. Around this time, the need for a school became important for those families in Youbou and, in due course, the “Old Hall”óa converted bunkhouseówas divided into two parts, one half being used for a school room. The school opened on October 5, 1925 with seven students enrolled and Miss Eleanor Redhead as teacher. C.C. Yount, Vice President of Empire Logging Co. furnished seats, blackboards and labour. The school serviced the community for ten years until, in 1935, a new facility was opened across from the Community Hall. This new school was named Yount after C.C. Yount. In 1947 Yount school enrolled a Kindergarten class, and was the first school in the district to do so.

The modern day Youbou mill was constructed in 1927 and was possibly the oldest fresh water sawmill in BC. It once boasted the longest craneway in the British Empire. Timberwest recently closed this mill and auctioned off its equipment in June, 2001. The closure of the last mill left on Cowichan Lake marks the end of an era for the region.

youbou

Caycuse (Camp 6)

A Brief History of Caycuse(Camp 6)

General Information
Caycuse, a native name meaning scraping the barnacles off the bottom of the canoe, is located approximately 20 km outside of Lake Cowichan on the South Shore of the lake. At one time there were over 400 people living in Caycuse. Today the population is 65, 13 of which are summer residents. It has a fire department and a two lane bowling alley.

Caycuse’s History
Some records of early logging around Camp 6 date back to 1902 when George Lewis was reported to have been logging in the Nixon Creek area. In 1905 Joe Vipond, a logging contractor who worked for the Cowichan Lumber Co., owned by the Mossom Boyd interests, ran a logging camp at Nixon Creek, using one of the earliest steam donkeys.

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The history of Caycuse is tied in with Youbou when about 1909 the Empire Logging Timber grant included the area and vast forests back of it. A few years later the Empire Co. actually had a camp there which was later leased to the Genoa Bay Lumber Co. Later in the early 1920′­s the Jesse James Co. took over for a short time.

However, a continuous history of the area really started in 1927 when Gibson and McCoy formed the Cowichan Logging Co. They had contracts with the mill at Cottonwood (Youbou) and were logging Empire Logging Co. timber. They prepared for a permanent camp there and built for family accommodation. Many of the men from the Youbou area (Camp 2 and Yap Alley) moved across the lake and worked for Gibson and McCoy. Much of the camp was on float houses for many years, including the cook-house, bunkhouses, office and store. Although there were still float houses in use in the middle forties, more and more buildings appeared on land. In September 1927 there were enough children to start a school, indicating the growth of the camp. The first school was a building on land, the first teacher was Miss Mable Jones from Cumberland, teaching 15 pupils.

During the depression the camp was closed for two years but opened again in 1933. By 1935 the single school room was too small and two room school with basement was built. The school went from grades k-7 until 1987 when it went from grades k-6. The school shut down in 1989 as there were only 8 students attending and the school still stands along with the playground equipment.

On March 17, 1928 a community hall was opened. Several boat loads of people came from Youbou and Lake Cowichan for the celebration. Dances, concerts and parties became quite frequent. In the early days the camp had to provide its own entertainment. Getting away from camp as late as 1929 meant going by taxi boat to the Foot of the lake. After 1929 it was necessary to cross the Lake to Youbou. Movies were shown in camp for a number of years on a regular schedule.

For many years people clamored for a road to be built from Caycuse to Honeymoon Bay. Students going to high school at Lake Cowichan had to go by taxi boat and speeder but this ended when the road was built. It finally was completed in 1955. Now students went to high school in a heated school bus. In 1956 the road was continued to Nitinat (Camp 3). Actually, the road ended the link between Caycuse and Youbou, except for organization and business. The logging office headquarters was moved from Youbou to Caycuse. Camp 3 was later abandoned by B.C.F.P.

A new town site was laid out in the fifties. Larger and better houses were built and living conditions improved. The old unsightly buildings on floats disappeared. At one point in time, there were over 400 people living in Caycuse, in old bunkhouses. There were 3 big shops, the main one was where they repaired and held the trains for overnight. In the front of this main shop, there was a turn table where the trains could turn around.

In 1987 B.C.F.P. sold its holdings to Fletcher Challenge. Almost all of the residents of Caycuse have left, 65 people still reside there today, 13 of them who are only there in the summer.

St Christophers Church

St Christophers ChurchSt. Christophers is probably the only church to be constructed by a logging company. It was designed by the Stone family (of Mesachie Lake). Although there was nothing unconventional in the general design, there is originality in the use of materials which were all local. The poles of the roof trusses were cut on the site, the corner posts are round Douglas fir logs with the bark left on. Yellow cedar was used for the siding. Hillcrest’s carpenters did the construction work as paid employees, but there was one company employee who took a more personal interest. As a volunteer job Dick Harsfall split the 7000 cedar shakes which roof the church.

Inside the little 24×48 foot church imagination really went to work. The fronts of the choir stalls are composed of red cedar panels framed with yellow cedar: the reading desk and font are make of maple burls and the cross on the altar is based on a maple burl. Hemlock is used largely for the interior lining.

The jug on the font was fashioned by a woman parishioner, the vases and candlesticks on the altar were turned on a home workshop lathe by an employee and the illminated scroll, which tells the legend of St. Christopher, was the work of Robin Maunsell. The company blacksmith, Bob Biskuupovich, make the iron work for the lamps and door hinges. Only one item was made out of the district, the glass dogwood, which is the centrepiece of the east window, was fashioned in Victoria.

The corner stone was laid in November, 1948 by Mrs. Carlton Stone and the church was ready for use the following summer. Along with his dream of a British Columbia woods church, Carlton Stone, although an Anglican, envisaged a church which would know no denominational barriers. However, some organized religious group had to be found to take responsibility. Also, the church was sitting in the middle of Hillcrest property and it was practically impossible to give title to it. A solution was eventually found and on August 12, 1951 two Anglican bishops stood outside the closed door of St. Christopher­s and knocked three times for admittance. The door was then opened to them by the warden, who requested, in the ancient form prescribed, that their church be dedicated.

In 1952 the need for a Sunday School was met by the addition of a 20×30 foot hall, which was built in the style of the church. Due to declining attendance and increasing vandalism it was decided to move the church to Lake Cowichan. In June of 1980 the building was partially disassembled, transported, rebuilt and attached to St. Aidans Anglican Chruch. St. Christophers serves as the church and St. Aidans as the hall. The church was re-dedicated on October 19, 1980.

Cowichan Lake Forest Research Station

Entrance SignEstablished in 1929 by the BC Forest Service, the Cowichan Lake Experimental Station has become renown for its work in forest genetics and tree physiology. The site was chosen for its close proximity to Bald Mountain lookout tower and the presence of a considerable acreage of 20 year old ìfine, thrifty Douglas fir.î One of its first projects in 1931, shortly after the depression, was Douglas fir thinning plots. In 1935 a ìYoung Menís Forestry Training Planî for the unemployed, hired sixty young men who built roads and trails, a cookhouse, bunk houses and a station residence, including a telephone service and a water system. These men were paid $1.00 a day and morale was high. There was organized recreation as well as job training activities. At the end of 1935, 10% of these men found jobs in the logging camps and sawmills. Since road access did not exist the station maintained a couple of clinker built boats equipped with outboard motors. In 1936 a road was constructed linking the Research Station and the public road.

In 1939 the personnel at CLES included 21 men in the Forest Development Project, 34 in the National Forestry Program and 15 in the Youth Forestry Training Program.

In 1941 the Station became a camp for reforestation and federal researchers. That same year a work camp was established to house conscientious objectors to war. These people developed a reputation for careful tree planting and also as fire look-outs for feared Japanese incendiary bomb devices.

In 1945 the Dominion of Canada established a field laboratory for insect and disease research and eight years later the first forest genetic experiments were begun by Dr. Alan Ewing with Douglas fir plantations.

During these early years, the Station served as a centre from which studies were conducted during the summer months. The objective of this research was to learn how best to manage forests for future use. The studies involved growth and yield, thinning, stem pruning and direct seeding. The experimental forest provided good opportunities for this and study plots were established, primarily in Douglas fir and alder stands. As well, a number of studies were done in soil mapping, site type classification and cone and seed production. Until the mid sixties and with the completion of the Ministryís planting program in the area, a definite camp atmosphere dominated the Station. All workers, from the foresters to the labourers, stayed in camp and used it as a base for their work.

In the 1950’s the Civil Defense Organization of the provincial government decided that the Cowichan Lake station was sufficiently remote to promote safe refuge for the Cabinet in case of a serious atomic bomb attack. The Reforestation Division was tagged with the responsibility of maintaining a large stack of canned goods at all times. It also stipulated that the stock be inventoried and replentished monthly. This inventory usually required the better part of a day for two people. Finally, in 1972, the practice was quietly eliminated and no one in Victoria ever noticed that it had come to an end.

In 1963 the nursery was established to produce stock for provenance tests and tree breeding programs. A major expansion was undertaken in 1979 and up to 25,000 grafts and 350,000 rooted cutting are grown annually. The camp and cookhouse operate on a full time basis and house training courses, Ministry work crews and visiting groups. With the closure of many logging company cookhouses, the station cookhouse is the only one of its kind in the area. In 1983 it was designated as a Forest Service Heritage Building.

Research Station

Hill 60

Traveling between Lake Cowichan and Duncan many of us are aware of Hill 60 , a distinct landmark where a manganese mine was once situated.

How did Hill 60 get its name?

One might well ask. In 1914 and 1915, during World War I, Canadian soldiers in Belgium distinguished themselves in the Battles of Ypress, part of Flanders Field, despite heavy casualties. One particular noteworthy engagement was the taking and holding of Hill 60. Cowichan residents were so proud of the bravery and achievement of the Canadians that they named the local mountain Hill 60.

In 1917 the government of Canada Munitions Board declared a little known mineral, manganese, of strategic importance in the making of munitions and steel. It was the following year, in the summer of 1918, that Merlin Douglas and Thomas Service discovered manganese deposits on the 2,000 foot level on Hill 60. With C.H. Dickie and T.A. Wood as partners, they acquired a lease from the C.P.R. which had purchased the E & N Railway in l905 and formed the B.C. Manganese Co. Three claims were staked on Hill 60 which became productive.

A four mile wagon road was built from the mine to an ore bunker at Charter Siding, the federal government paying half the cost. The campsite was established with a cookhouse and bunkhouse for the workers. The first shipment from the open pit mine was shipped to Bilrow Alloy Co. in Tacoma, Washington. It consisted of 530 ton of ore, averaging 5% manganese and 19% silica. During 1919 and 1920 a total of 1,117 tons of ore was shipped to Tacoma for the manufacture into ferro-manganese steel. There was a great demand, so much so that in the winter of 1919-20 an aerial tramway was built on the mountainside from the mine to the bunkers along the railway line below. However the flurry of activity didn’t last long. Little interest was taken in any of the deposits when the post war depression hit and the demand for manganese dropped. According to the records of the B.C. Department of Mines no ore was shipped after 1920.

It wasn’t until 1938 when the Crown granted claims of Hill 60, which had reverted to the Crown, were acquired by W.R. Wylie of Vancouver. A year later, in 1939, ten young men, trainees of the Dominion Provincial Mining Training Project cleaned out and extended trenches on the known veins and found several others which they explored by trenching and stripping. Since then there has been no further mining.

In 1954 none of the deposits was staked. Rock hounds discovered the abandoned open pit mine as a source for rhodonite, the pink rock prized as gem quality for jewelry and much in demand. Re-staked and mined by a private enterprise interested in rhodonite, the area was mined out but in adjacent claims the gem rock is still found.

Although its history was brief, Hill 60 remains a landmark.

Stoker/Simpson Estate

Dr. Richard Stoker and his wife Susan first arrived at the lake at the turn of the century and found a valley rich in wildflowers. They had lived in India, where Dr. Stoker was a Lt. Col. in the Indian Army. It was there that they developed their love of flowers and plants.

As amateur botanists, Mr. Stoker collected native botanical plants from Asia and Mrs. Stoker propagated and cataloged them. She also did water colour paintings. Their house and 25 acres of land sat on Marble Bay, across from Honeymoon Bay.

The Stokers built their garden behind the house with the help of Chinese workmen. It was a subtle blending of all types of foliage and bloom. Vegetables, herbs, berries, and tree fruits supplies the kitchen. Rhododendrons flourished and a natural hollow filled with piped-in lake water provided an appropriate environment for native water-loving plants. Surrounding this was heather and a small formal garden filled with tulips and lily of the valley. Pathways climbed through a series of terraces that held native plants.

Mr. George Buchanan Simpson and his wife Jeanne Suzeanne (Susie) first came to the lake in 1912 and camped in the area, living in tents and houseboats. In 1924 they bought a parcel of land from Dr. Stoker. From 1921 to 1927 Mr. Simpson was game warden for the lake area, with a special assignment to look after the Shaw Creek Game Reserve. Both of them had a keen interest in the area and carved out a beautiful garden. It blended wild with the cultivated. Shrubs and flowers from every part of the world nestled beside native alpine and rock plants. South American vines and wild geraniums intermingled.

During the 1920’s and early 30’s the Simpsons had helped the Stokers develop their gardens. In 1931 Dr. Stoker died and Mrs. Stoker, disgusted with the devastation made by the logging companies, left the lake. In time the Simpsons bought the Stoker Estate, which had been neglected by it’­s new owners and worked at restoring it. Over the next 20 years the garden grew to 350 plants, including 200 varieties of rhododendrons, many of them species.

Mr. Simpson died in 1958 and his wife continued to live on the estate. In 1966 she realized that she could no longer care for her gardens. She offered the estate to the University of Victoria, with some very strict regulations. She would be allowed to live there as long as she was able. She demanded that she receive no publicity and stipulated that the property be used as a ground unit for scientific observation and study. She arranged for the bulk of the exotic plants to be moved to the grounds of the university. Mrs. Simpson died in 1973 at the age of 87.

In 1976 the official opening of the Jeanne S. Simpson Field Studies Resource Centre of the University of Victoria at Lake Cowichan occurred.

-Courtesy of Kaatza Station Museum and Archives

Lake Cowichan – History

The town of Lake Cowichan, BC, is located 31 kilometers west of Duncan at the beginning of the Cowichan River at Cowichan Lake. Cowichan Lake is one of the largest bodies of fresh water on Vancouver Island. The Town was incorporated on August 19, 1944 and this is its history from early settlement to the present.

Early Settlement

Before the arrival of the Europeans to the region Cowichan Lake seems to have been left largely untouched by local Native tribes other than for hunting and fishing. The two surveys of the region ordered by Governor Douglas in Victoria only mention one long deserted village at Skutz Falls. Small groups had apparently set up camps and hunted in the region but had more or less left before these surveys took place.

Cowichan Lake’s settlement history begins in about 1883 with the arrival of William Forest to Cowichan Bay. In 1884, he and James Tolmie (older brother of a later premier of British Columbia) toured the lake with the help of the native Ikilass brothers. Mr. Forest impressed by, “the most beautiful spot he had ever seen”, later lobbied the premier for a road to the lake. The premier decided that if ten to twelve settlers were to move to the lake then a road would be built. Mr. Forest assured the premier this would not be a problem and thus was authorized to build a road.

Thanks to Mr. Forest’s efforts a rough road was finished to the head of the Cowichan River in 1886 and settlement began. A fair number settlers, sensing the value of being at the gateway to the Cowichan Lake region, built their homes at the end of the road. This settlement is what became the Town of Lake Cowichan. Those that chose to settle on land grants or cut timber further up the lake passed through this settlement and then reached their destination by boat. Most permanent residents at this time came for the area’s farming, hunting and logging opportunities. Logging quickly became the major economic power in the region. The combination of Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan River provided an attractive way to log. Loggers simply cut the timber around the lake and floated the logs out down the Cowichan River to Cowichan Bay where they could be collected and shipped away.

The original Riverside Inn was built around 1886 as well as the Lakeside Hotel in 1893, which catered to tourists. Settlers slowly came to the region but by 1905 disastrous log runs down the Cowichan River and a slowdown in wood demand had curtailed logging opperations.

Railroads and Wars

Rumors of a railroad to Cowichan Lake began in 1906 and things began to pick up again. The bridge at McCallum’s Landing was built in 1909 and stood till 1924 when it was condemned. Today, the weir next to Saywell Park occupies its location. The only sport fish hatchery in Canada at the time was officially opened in 1911 next to the Riverside Inn. Under the supervision of John Castley the hatchery was utilized to raise local trout, steelhead, Atlantic salmon and eastern trout. By 1910 the building of the railway was assured so a survey was conducted to lay out lots and roads for a town on the south side of the river. This plan was titled “The Townsite of Riverside.” A year after, a survey of the northern side of the river resulted in the “Riverside Park Subdivision.” Incredibly, both these surveys are more or less the present day town of Lake Cowichan.

In February 1912, the E & N railway reached Cowichan Lake and a logging boom began. The community at the start of the Cowichan River now had a railway terminus, hotel, government fish hatchery and its own mail service. Also, the C.N.R. in 1913 began work on its own railroad to the lake.

1914 came and brought the 1rst World War with it. The logging industry suffered a severe downturn with the disruption of the markets by the war. Begin rather isolated, the effects of the war were somewhat minimized but many of the area’s young men left to fight and never came back. The Beech Hall was built and held its first dance in 1914 and on April 1, 1915 the first telephone was installed. The first wedding took place at the Riverside Inn on July 1 of the same year. In late 1916, the first of many traffic bridges (located where the modern bridge is) was constructed next to the Riverside Inn.

1917 saw the logging industry reactivate and begin a boom. The population around Cowichan Lake increased steadily and things continued to improve throughout the twenties. Large lumber companies used the E & N railway and the newly completed in 1921 C.N.R railway to transport the wood from the lake. These companies required large work forces to harvest the timber so extensive self-contained camps were built around Cowichan Lake. Some of these camps disappeared and others like Caycuse (Camp 3) still exist today.

The Great Depression of 1929 wiped out most of the lumber market but the region survived. The Lake Cowichan Community Club formed in the same year and on March 7, 1931 opened a community hall, which operated for 30 years. On that same date, Premier Tolmie opened a new bridge next to the Riverside Inn to replace the first one built in 1916.

The worst flood in the history of the town marked the New Year in 1935. Boats were required to go down several streets and water flooded the school basement. Electricity came to the lake people at the end of 1936 when Stanley Gordon installed a light plant on a mountain stream and hooked up 40 homes and businesses. Two private water systems were providing fresh water to homes at the time. The school board decided demand was high enough to start a high school and classes began the following year. In 1937, the hatcheries long time manager, John Castley, was replaced and the hatchery was put under the direction of the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. The hatchery’s operation basically ceased in 1940 and its land eventually became Central Park in downtown Lake Cowichan. The 2nd World War broke out in September 1939 but like the previous one its effects were minimal on the community as a whole.

Incorporation

In 1943 the idea of incorporating the village at the foot of the lake took hold and after most objections had been dealt with it went ahead. The community at the head of the Cowichan River became the Village of Lake Cowichan on August 19, 1944 with 660 people in its borders. The village council inherited many problems. Buying all three local water systems and increasing the size of the dam on Stanley Creek solved the problem of adequate drinking water. Later councils would buy a new pumping station to use Cowichan Lake to supply the water. Over many years the inadequate street lights, sidewalks, paving, garbage removal and other problems were slowly dealt with.

The R.C.M.P. took over policing duties from the Provincial Police in 1950. In 1951 the traffic bridge next to the Riverside Inn collapsed after a truck had crossed over it. A makeshift bridge was made out of the C.P.R. railway bridge by planking it and work began on the bridge that still spans the river in Lake Cowichan. The B.C.F.P. built in 1956 a weir across the river to ensure a constant flow of water for their crofton mill. It has been raised several times since to increase the size of the reservoir.

Today, all of the railways that provided easy transport of lumber to market are gone. It is estimated that in 34 years of operation the E & N railway hauled 400,000 cars of lumber away. Gone are the mills that cut the trees felled in the local woods into lumber. Thus, all the historical reasons for Lake Cowichan’s growth as the entrance and exit to the lake area are gone. This does not spell an end of Lake Cowichan, however, as tourism is fast becoming how area residents make a living. Now, a significant number of people going on to Gordon Bay, the Caramanah Walbran, and other great camping and hiking spots come through and stop in Lake Cowichan. This continues the tradition of Lake Cowichan being the gateway to Cowichan Lake and beyond.

Written by Matthew Bystedt

 

Back to The Town of Lake Cowichan

Mesachie Lake Town Info

General Information

In early 1940s, the Hillcrest Lumber Company faced a serious problem. It had cut all the trees in the area around Sahtlam and needed a new location for its mill. In the spring of 1942 Mesachie Lake was born when the Hillcrest Lumber Company moved its mill and company houses to the shore of Cowichan Lake. In August 6, 1968 the mill closed because of a dwindling timber supply and then burned in 1970.

Today, despite doom and gloom reports that Mesachie Lake village would disappear when the mill closed the community continues to thrive. Mesachie Lake is approxiamately 10 minutes drive west of the Town of Lake Cowichan on South Shore Road. A 10 minute drive in the opposite direction will get you to Honeymoon Bay.

The rows of quaint company built houses, tree lined roads, mountain backdrop and lake access make Mesachie Lake a fine little village. Mesachie Lake also has a baseball diamond right on South Shore Road with a nice playground next to it.

Points of Interest

 

Mesachie Lake Firefighters

Mesachie Lake Fire TruckThe Mesachie Lake Firefighters are stationed in a small building in the village. The firehall still uses the original 1946 International fire truck that was bought soon after the Hillcrest Lumber Company moved to Mesachie Lake. Since 1979, the annual Firemen’s Softball Tournament has been hosted by the Mesachie Lake firefighters in late June at the baseball diamond in Mesachie. This event was originally created to raise money for the firehall but now all proceeds are donated to Muscular Dystrophy research.

Forest Research Station

Established in 1929 by the BC Forest Service, the Cowichan Lake Experimental Station has become renown for its work in forest genetics and tree physiology. The site was chosen for its close proximity to Bald Mountain lookout tower and the presence of a considerable acreage of 20 year old “fine, thrifty Douglas fir.” More Information

Heritage Trees

During the early years of the community fruit trees were distributed to residents in 1944 by the Hillcrest Lumber Company. The company continued this policy of providing fruit trees to all new buildings for quite some time. Today, they line the streets of Mesachie and are recognized as an important heritage landmark of the community. Plaques have been erected to label the trees.

Return to – Mesachie’s History

Lady of the Lake

Lake Days was first held on Labour Day in 1943, 54 years ago. It began as a picnic for the area’s children. Members of the Lake Cowichan IWA local organized the event and canvassed residents to help pay for food and prizes. The event was held in the field where the Smith Block is now located.

In 1944 a decorated bike competition was added and over the next few years logger sports were introduced. The first parade was held in 1945 and the first Lady of the Lake, Dolores Traer, was selected. The winner was not really selected, but was the contestant who sold the most tickets to the event. She was given the title of ‘Lumber Queen’.

Lake Days soon outgrew the field and was moved to the old school grounds (Lisa’s Fit Stop) to make use of the old Community Hall. In 1958 there appeared in the Lake News an ad asking for 50 men to complete the Centennial Park in time for that year’s Centennial celebration. They obviously found their volunteers and the work was completed. The event has been held at the park ever since.

In 1959 the Kiwanis Club received a franchise to participate in the PNE contest. In 1979 the first Lady of the Lake Ball was held at the Riverside Inn. The Lake Days Society was formed in 1987, the same year that the Boom Chain Toss was introduced. The 1st annual 10K run and the ultramarathon were first held in 1989.

Lake Days has seen many changes over the years. It has certainly seen every kind of weather known to man, from gale force winds to brilliant sunshine and more than its share of rain.

Previous Winners

1945 Dolores Traer
1946 Delphine Williams
1947 Ruby Tasa
1948 Majorie Turner
1949 Carol Lipstack
1950 Gurdev Dley
1951 Shirley MacKenzie
1952 Doreen Towle
1953 Dorothy Peacock
1954 Irene Westwick
1955 Heather MacDonald
1956 Arlene Johnson
1957 Karen Ross
1958 Shirley Woodward
1959 Sharon Kidds
1960 Grace-Ann Malone
1961 Lois Weismiller
1962 Linda Neil
1963 Joanne Akiyama
1964 Linda Davies
1965 Susan Hildebrant
1965 Suzanne Castley
1966 Kirstin Palsson
1967 Sharon Berar
1968 Marilyn Nelson
1969 Julie Vanyo
1969 Marlene Denniger
1970 Susan Neva
1971 June Viczko
1972 Lynn Morrow
1973 Cathy Lamb
1974 Maureen Long
1975 Janet Peterson
1976 Shelly Scott
1977 Kelly Peterson
1978 Susan Hajdu
1979 Carla St. Cyr
1980 Pinder Rai
1981 Lisa Calleberg
1982 Cindy Thorpe
1983 Denise Carpentier
1984 Kim Baird
1985 Michele Peterson
1986 Robin Tapley
1987 Kirsten Nimmo
1988 Jolene Cook
1989 Julia Turner
1990 Connie Basso
1991 Selena Gough
1992 Rachel Hoole
1993 Nicole Bonenfant
1994 Bridget Walshe
1995 Brannon Nelson
1996 Shelby Sanders
1997 Paula Sohye
1998 Michelle Hartshorn
1999 Kristal McQuinn
2000 Tannis Wylie
2001 Masika Allan
2002 Tiffany Mailloux
2003 Amanda Nijar
2004 Jocelyn Lundberg
2005 Carli Feltrin
2006 Cassie Bell
2007 Jackie Johnson
2008 Randi Lundberg
2009 Sydney Rabey
2010 Bryanne Kitagawa
2011 Jorden Matson
2012 Alicia Fall
2013 Megan Berry
2014 Lauren Frost
2015 Crystal Bell
2016 Chailyn Vensel
2017 Desiree Karlsen

Mildred Child

Mildred BuildingMrs. Mildred Child, born in England, came to Canada as a war bride in 1919. She lived in Saskatchewan until 1935. Her husband died that year and Mrs.Child travelled west with her two children.

In 1947, she was hired by the Lake Cowichan School Board as a stenographer and bookkeeper, having received excellent training while in England. She lived with her son, Allan, who was teaching at the Lake Cowichan High School. Alan and Mildred lived in a newly built house on Cowichan Avenue. In 1963 she was made Assistant Secretary Treasurer on the School Board.

She served for twenty years on the School Board. She was elected to the Village Council in 1957. She served on Village Council for two years and then was elected Mayor in 1960 and served for another 7 years. She left in 1968 to live with her daughter in Vancouver, making annual trips back to Lake Cowichan in the summertime.

Mildred Child died in 1975. A memorial service was held in the Centennial Hall and her ashes, as she had requested, were scattered on Cowichan Lake.

In 1986, the Village Council purchased the B.C. Telephone building which had also done service as the Vancouver Island Public Library, (where many of us have memories of our present Mayor reminding us of our late charges). The building was named the “Mildred Child Annex” in a dedication ceremony at which long-time resident Oscar Palsson paid homage to the determination and spirit that Mildred Child brought to all of her activities. The naming of this building in Mildred Child’s honour gives testimony to her long service to the community.