Wally Knott on saw and his partner Red Meyers at Meades Creek Oct. 1945 by W.H.Gold PhotoMOFM Logo
Caycuse (Camp 6)
Caycuse is native for "scraping the barnacles off the bottom of the canoe", and is located approximately 20 km outside of Lake Cowichan on the south shore. Originally a float camp, Caycuse was an isolated logging camp across the lake from Youbou. It was owned by the Empire Lumber Company around 1910, and then Gilson & McCoy took over the operation and moved it to its present location at Nixon Creek about 1926. It closed from 1931 to 1933 due to the Depression, but re-opened under new ownership: Industrial Timber Mills. In 1946, BC Forest Products took over from ITM. At its peak, in the early 1950's, an estimated 1000 loggers and their families lived at the camp. Fletcher Challenge Canada acquired the operation in 1988 and closed the camp in 1992.
Cowichan Lake Research Station
The BC Forest Service established the Cowichan Lake Experimental Station at Mesachie Lake in 1929. It has become known worldwide for its work in forest genetics and tree physiology. The site was chosen for its close proximity to Bald Mountain lookout tower and an available acreage of 20 year old Douglas fir. The Station became a camp for reforestation and federal researchers. The Station served as a centre where studies were conducted involving growth and yield, thinning, stem pruning and direct seeding. All workers, from the foresters to the labourers, stayed in the camp and used it as a base of operations for their work until the mid sixties when Ministry's planting program in the area was completed. In 1979, the CLES changed it's name to Cowichan Lake Research Station.
Hillcrest Lumber Company
Carlton Stone, born 1877 in England, immigrated to Canada 1908, and to Vancouver Island in 1910. He built a small steam-powered mill near Fairbridge. In 1917, he moved operations to Sahtlam, which gave access to railway transportation (E&N) and a worldwide market. He designed a gas-powered form of truck to be used on the rails instead of the steam locie. Within 10 years, he owned one of the largest companies on Vancouver Island, employing 225 men in the mill and 100 in the woods. Eventually the timber ran out, and Carlton was forced to move the operations to Mesachie Lake. The mill, built in 1942, had 400 employees. In 1968, the depletion of timber stocks caused the mill to close, and its machinery was sold off.
Nitnat (Camp 3)
Camp 3 was situated at the head of Lake Cowichan towards the Nitinat Valley. It was originally called Kissenger Camp in the 1920's, but was taken over by Industrial Timber Mills (ITM). It closed in 1931 due to the Depression. In 1936, the business was bought by International Timber Mills, and re-opened with more than 200 men working and living there. In or around 1947, British Columbia Forest Products (BCFP) was formed out of ITM. In the 1950’s, Crown Zellerbach bought the Camp 3 holdings from BCFP. Camp 3 closed down in the early 1980's and later became a campsite. Crown Zellerbach became Crown Forest.
Paldi (Mayo Lumber Company)
Paldi was a small logging community, originally called Mayo. It was located between Duncan and Lake Cowichan, and was founded by Mayo Singh. It was a multi-cultural community, and was made up of East Indians, Chinese, Japanese, and Caucasians. Besides the mill, they had a Sikh Temple, a Japanese Temple/Community Hall, a school, a company store, and a post office. By 1965, a modern mill had been built in Nanaimo, and workers were taken by bus to the new mill. People began to move away, closer to their place of work. In 1969, the Paldi school closed and those remaining were bussed to Lake Cowichan.
Youbou Sawmill
Youbou began in 1907 when two timber cruisers, working for the American Finance Company (later to be called the Empire Lumber Company) arrived here. In 1913, the Empire Lumber Company built a small mill in Cottonwood (Youbou) to mill smaller logs, and starting in 1918, many improvements were made to the mill. By 1922, the mill was able to cut 30,000 board ft. per day and employ 30 men. The modern day Youbou mill was constructed in 1927, and was possibly the oldest fresh water sawmill in BC. It once boasted the longest craneway in the British Empire. Timberwest closed the mill and auctioned off its equipment in June 2001. The closure of the last mill left on Cowichan Lake marked the end of an era for the region.