Dateline Cowichan: Railway spur tied to industry

Station Street, Duncan, circa 1950. - courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives
Station Street, Duncan, circa 1950.
— image credit: courtesy Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives

Costs and safety associated with rail shipments often hit the news. But in 1920 the awaited completion of a Canadian National Railway spur to the west of Duncan was an impetus to industrial development.

Two mills had already been built near Glenora: a tie mill operated by Chinese interests just west of the little community and Harbour Marine Company’s large mill. Both had been established in anticipation of the new rail connection.

And now, in August, another mill with 20,000 feet daily capacity was about to begin operations.

The Napier Lumber Company had acquired some five- to six-million feet from Mr. J. Boal, Koksilah, near the King Solomon mines, about two miles on the Duncan side of the Koksilah river bridge. Work began on laying out the mill site on the east of the CNR track.

Principals in the venture were Mr. J. D. Patterson and Mr. S. A. Werry, both of Vancouver.

“Mr. Patterson was at one time mill superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Lumber Co. Ltd., Vancouver, and is well known in lumber circles,” reported The Leader. Werry, too, had considerable experience.

According to the weekly newspaper he’d spent time as a stationary engineer in the Kootenays.


1920: bounty


North Cowichan council decided that a municipal bounty of $5 would be made payable for any panther shot in the municipality during 1920 — cutting in half its share of the provincial-mandated bounty of $25.


1920: campsite


According to the local Board of Trade, a new camping site in a grove of trees behind the hill in the agricultural grounds attracted motorists from Canada and America. Amenities on the site included a brick fireplace, firewood and water.


1920: scenic route


The (Cowichan) Lake drive — well established and plainly marked with signs — was one of the Valley’s scenic routes being mapped by the Board of Trade. The Board also planned to investigate camping sites outside Duncan.

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