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Dateline Cowichan: Concrete steps in the labour wars of 1970

“Frisky horses and excited riders follow the huntsmaser at the first fox hunt held in the Cowichan Valley, Sunday. About 60 riders from Lower Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland took part in the foxless hunt,” the caption to the undatelined newspaper photo by Sharon Currie stated.  - courtesy Doreen Green
“Frisky horses and excited riders follow the huntsmaser at the first fox hunt held in the Cowichan Valley, Sunday. About 60 riders from Lower Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland took part in the foxless hunt,” the caption to the undatelined newspaper photo by Sharon Currie stated.
— image credit: courtesy Doreen Green

If ever cornered for this paper’s Valley People, I would confide for the “Most people don’t know” question that I once worked at the Bamberton cement plant.

The stint was brief and during 1970’s summer of labour discontent. Some 1,500 Crofton pulp and paper mill and Chemainus lumber mill employees returned to work mid-June when pickets of the Canadian Merchant Service Guild were removed during a towboat strike.

Meanwhile, a motorcade organized by IWA Local 180, Carpenters and Joiners Union and Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada on its way to the Victoria legislature descended on Bamberton Cement Company to protest the company’s policy not to sell cement to local contractors.

North Cowichan mayor Gerry Smith said local contractors had been aborted in their attempt to get cement from Bamberton as a group, although a barge travelling to the United States was taking on a load of thousands of tons of cement.

“The contractors were told there was no market for cement because of the construction lockout,” Smith explained.

“This concerns the whole Cowichan Valley, and if Bamberton will not support the local contractors then many will go broke,” the mayor said.

1970: fires

A second fire at Duncan’s A & W drive-in in less than two years caused an estimated $20,000 damage to the main building on the Trans-Canada Highway. Twenty-one Duncan Fire Department volunteers controlled the blaze within 20 minutes.

1970: mail

Mrs. Dorothy Pastor of Cowichan Lake Road received a small parcel in the mail. The address written on it below her name: “A Farm in Duncan, B.C.”

1970: royalty

Debbie Hallet was crowned Miss Mill Bay during the two-day Mill Bay days. First runner-up was Jacqueline Luff. Entertainment at the Saturday night dance included Peter Smith’s Mt. Prevost gymnastic team and the Duncan Lions’ Bagpipe Band.

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