When the Ocean Froze...

We don't realize it, but the weather in older times was much harsher than it is now. I think anyone over the age of 40 remembers the way winter used to be. Nothing like the winters of today.

Here in Cowichan Bay winter is rather mild. But it was not always that way. Cowichan Bay has two rivers, the Koksilah and the Cowichan. The worst that happens to these rivers is the regular flooding of Cowichan Bay Road. Residents are used to the signs and blockage and just accept them as a normal part of winter.

However, Cowichan Bay used to freeze over regularly. I know, readers will say that salt water does not freeze. But, with the rivers feeding into the bay the fresh water stays on top, and regularly froze over. In past history there was a sawmill at Genoa Bay. The water froze so hard that they actually hauled wood over the bay with mules.

The last freeze happened in the 1960's. In order to try and keep the harbour open our local fleet of tug boats were pressed into action as ice breakers. Truly an unusual task for a tug boat. Biggest problem was at the docks. Boats froze solid to the docks. Not much could be done but wait for the ice to thaw.

Old timers tell stories about old days, but the usual line of it all is that winter is much milder now than in older days. But there are still many things one can do in winter here. The most popular of course is the beaches. Unfortunately winter means that most low tides happen in the middle of the night, but there is still lots of beach to walk. Hatch Point is probably the most popular, and a great place to run the dogs. The boat launch has a great park. There is a trail along the bottom of Mount Tseuhalem going all the way from Genoa Bay to Tseuhalem Road. You can still climb the mountain if you are so inclined (pun intended).

In summer we are busy with picnics and travel. The upcoming winter is a great time to explore. Go visit the old Stone Church, take an umbrella when it is wet and get outside. No crowds, the places can all be yours alone. The Bay does not freeze any more, so dress up and get out.