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Ceremony fills Duncan’s year

Workmen erect Duncan’s centennial totem pole carved by Chief Calvin Hunt now standing in Charles Hoey Park. - Andrew Leong/file
Workmen erect Duncan’s centennial totem pole carved by Chief Calvin Hunt now standing in Charles Hoey Park.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

It has been the highlight of Councillor Sharon Jackson’s life and a exceptional year for the City of Duncan.

The Duncan Centennial celebrations began at the opening ceremony on March 4 and in the nine months that followed Jackson and the Duncan Centennial committee worked with dedicated volunteers to organize 16 outstanding events. Jackson credits those volunteers for making it such an amazing year.

“I got to work with such spectacular, stellar people. The volunteers and people who worked on all the centennial projects are so committed to their passion in life. When it came to our legacy projects of the totem pole and fountain, I found myself working with world-class artists that I would normally not have an opportunity to meet. Paul Douville, who used to be the CAO, was the volunteer coordinator. He’s a detail guy and would remember tiny details. I had such excellent volunteers.”

The opening ceremony was one of Jackson’s most memorable moments, though minutes before Jackson wasn’t so sure it was going to be a success. Lt.-Gov. Steven Point was the guest of honour who would raise the flag for the first time. Ten minutes before the ceremony was due to begin outside Duncan city hall on Kenneth Street, Jackson said there were 20 people on the street.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh no!’ In that last 10 minutes 800 people arrived. Cadets, Shriners, Girl Guides, representatives from the Legion and other service clubs, the Boy Scouts. People from all walks of life were there.”

The flag, which Jackson designed and features Native salmon and a silhouette of city hall on a Vancouver Canucks blue-and-green background, was raised to the official Duncan song, Love This Town, written by the winner of the Duncan Centennial Songwriting Contest Paul Ruszel.

In April, the City of Duncan received a $75,000 birthday gift from the province. Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong announced the arts and culture grant toward the city’s centennial celebrations.

Centennial activities included geocaching, a list of babies born in since March 4, Earth Day, the Centennial Shuffle for KidSport, the Guinness Book of World Records fitness challenge, a 100k motorcycle ride, Supermoto races, Intercultural Day and the family dance, the Big Lunch at Kinsmen Park.

Two legacies remain for residents to enjoy. Cowichan Station artist Peter Lewis, famous for his Great Divide Waterfall over Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, created Quench, an 8 1/2-foot, Fiberglas totem-pole drinking fountain for people and pets, which resides in on the west side of Duncan city hall.

A colourful 34-foot intricately carved red-cedar totem pole stands proud in Charles Hoey Park. A the pole-raising ceremony in December, Carver and Kwagulth Chief Calvin Hunt proudly hosted proceedings for the centennial art piece, flanked by speaker Chief Frank Nelson, plus Cowichan elders Ray Peter and Gus Joe, and others who represented Cowichan territory’s five villages. The pole uses mythical characters to tell the story of the relationship between the City of Duncan and its neighbours, the Cowichan Tribes.

The only thing left is to place the time capsule in the ground in January. The capsule contains letters from children, CDs, DVDs, and technology to help those opening it in 25 years’ time.

“We put a CD and DVD player in it so they could play the CDs and DVDs. Otherwise it would be like pulling out a gramophone. Technology is going to be exponentially different in 25 years,” Jackson said.

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