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Dateline Cowichan: When Eaton’s was the heart of downtown

Station Street as it looked in the early part of the 1970s, looking east from Craig toward Canada Avenue, with the Eatons store in the foreground to the right. Shown are Bernard Electronics, Norris Drugstore, Westwells, Whittome, Eatons, Bank of Commerce.  - courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives
Station Street as it looked in the early part of the 1970s, looking east from Craig toward Canada Avenue, with the Eatons store in the foreground to the right. Shown are Bernard Electronics, Norris Drugstore, Westwells, Whittome, Eatons, Bank of Commerce.
— image credit: courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives

Memories take me back. These stairs once led down to the men’s department.  This office must be about where we browsed fabrics. It’s the Cowichan Merchants’ Building, formerly Eaton’s, and much remains of the interior construction — if you know where to look.

In September 1949, the store planned to stay open during a $50,000 modernization of the big store on the corner of Craig and Station. There’d be a new look on the outside  with extensive alterations to windows and entrance doors; and the third floor would be finished – the front part for public use and the rest for warehouse space.

Architect C. B. K. Van Norman designed modern display windows on the Station Street side of the building with an imposing new main entrance. The Craig Street side would get higher, smaller windows with a second main entrance. Just inside, a large new staircase would lead to the second and third floor. A new canopy was planned to extend along the Station and Craig Street sides, and design called for an exterior sand-finish stucco.

Employees looked forward to a new safety freight elevator to be installed in the south end of the building. The complete modernization was expected to take three months.

1949: boating

Grant Butt’s Lightning, Jolly Roger, with Jimmy Whittome and Don Stamer crewing, won the Roome Cup and Lightning series at Maple Bay. In the race, Harry Fox finished second, Charlie Bruce third, while George Seymour in Lodo was disqualified.

1949: fishing

In the ladder derby at Cowichan Bay, Mr. A. A. Sherman held top place with a catch just over 43 lbs. In second place, was Mr. R. Cates, 36 lbs 14 ozs; and third, Mr. H. R. Gaunt, 34 lbs, 10 ozs.

1949: golfing

Chemainus golfers Gerry Smith, Alex Wilkinson, George Hemmingsen and H. E. Shorter all won “booty” at the South Vancouver Island Lumbermen’s Tournament held at Colwood Golf course.

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