Lake Cowichan Heritage Days May 18th-20th featured the opening of the Forest Workers Memorial Park, the first of it's kind in BC. Funded by a Commemorative Brick sale, the local Credit Union Legacy Fund and local industry, the park honours workers and history of the forest industry around Cowichan Lake. The area was home to the beginning of the IWA forest industry union in the early 1930s, and has a rich history of lumbering and sawmilling.
Key features of the park are a chunk of concrete foundation from the CNR bridge over the Cowichan River, which symolizes the many logging railways around the lake; a fountain which recognizes the mountains, lake, and rivers in the Cowichan Lake area; three interpretive panels richly carved in yellow cedar and depicting historic scenes from the forest industry; and the commemorative bricks recognizing workers and companies past and present. Special brown-coloured bricks with a tree emblem recognize workers who lost their lives on the job.
The day began with sun in the sky, and a parade of logging trucks from the 1930s, 50s and present day. The local Kaatza Museum was open with a series of logging and mining displays. As the park Grand Opening drew near the heavens opened and the rain poured down, as if to remind all in attendance that forest workers work outdoors in the harshest of elements. The Royal Canadian Legion was present, along with Mayor and Council, MLA, MP, and visionaries from The Cowichan Lake Forest Cooperative who sheparded the park idea from conception to completion. The big moment was the throwing of the switch to set flowing the water in the fountain.
For more Lake Cowichan logging history, try cutting & pasting these links into your web browser: