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Vision 2012: leisure then

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In 1912, most people were employed in farming, forestry or mining work, which offered few opportunities for recreation.

Margaret W. Bishop in her memoir And So They Came To Cowichan explains.

"While their days to relax were not many, they were enjoyed to the fullest, and the few days in the year when large district gatherings brought friends together still stand out in the memory. I can think of three such days: The 24th of May picnic at the Riverbottom (Sahtlam); the 1st of July celebration at Cowichan Bay; and the September Fall Fair."

Bishop describes a winter wonderland we only sing about now.

"Those were the days when we used to look forward to snow and sleigh rides every year. Either in the one horse cutters with sleigh bells jingling or better still in the big bobsleighs, when the wagon box was filled with fresh clean hay and we, well wrapped in wool toques, mufflers, our big winter coats and warm blankets (even hot bricks) piled in with a party of our friends (old and young). A real old-fashioned sleighing party. The sleigh bells jingled, the moon shone brightly and we sang all the popular songs of the day."

Cricket, basketball, field hockey, tennis, and golf were sports enjoyed by men and women. Young remittance men, sons of wealthy British families who came to Cowichan to farm, were a new class of resident that attracted wealthy visitors who enjoyed fishing and shooting, polo and regattas.

In Memories Never Lost, compiled by the pioneer researchers, the authors describe how these European settlers enjoyed a high-society lifestyle.

"Young remittance men who spent their days in overalls, doing labourer's chores while supposedly learning farming, turned out to the formal dances wearing correct evening dress and "smelling of cows and mothballs'. The society, which amused itself with balls in full evening dress, yachting, tennis, teas with damask cloths and silver tea service, existed side by side with the other older society which continued in its accustomed way, laboriously improving the farms year by year."

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