Teenager saved baby from fire – From Chronicles Past

Historical writer Ed Nicholson rounds up news from Chronicles past from December 1911, 1936 and 1961.

December, 1911

A resident reported that he spotted a number of Japanese operating two 30-foot fishing boats with seine nets, two scows with houses built on them and three gasoline launches in the vicinity of Cowichan Gap. It appears illegal fishing has been going on at the spawning grounds for a number of weeks. “The local fine for illegal fishing is 20 dollars, which is less than the value of one ton of herring, thus it is not surprising that the lawbreakers are carrying on these illicit endeavours, especially in light of the fact that the fishing inspector has not been seen around there for a number of years.”

An editorial printed two weeks before Christmas was definitely not brimming over with holiday spirit. Here is what the grumpy editor had to say about “current marriages”:

“Half the marriages in this world are nothing but bubbles and barter. A man wants a wife. He casts about for an even exchange. In a year, he is tired of his bargain. In five years, love is dead, and cold-browed tolerance inherits love’s garments. In 20 years, tolerance is in its grave and hate reigns supreme. The wife is naggy and prickly and puckish. The husband is dogmatic and reticent and mean. But there they hang together on the bough, like two gnarled and frosted apples, until the winds of death dislodge them and away they go. The only way to be rid of bubble marriages — marriages that turn out emptiness with one drop of water as the residue, and that drop a tear — is to educate our boys and girls to do something higher than playing with pipes and soapy water. Give them something more earnest to do and see that they do it. Compel men and women to choose their life companions with a tithe of the solemnity they bring to the selection of a carriage horse or a ribbon.”

At 11 a.m. on Sat., Dec. 23, an attempt was made to rob the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Teller Mr. Ray was asked by a man with a revolver to hand over $1,000. He replied “nothing doing” and responded by pulling out his own gun. The man ran into the street. Police are now looking for the culprit, whom Mr. Ray was able to describe in detail.

December, 1936

On Dec. 11, the Chronicle highlighted the abdication of King Edward VIII. The full document was printed on the front page and included a declaration that Edward’s brother, the Duke of York, was to ascend to the throne. Local physician Dr. Hanington loaned a radio to the high school, and it was set up in the central hall so students could hear the king’s final broadcast from London. [Note: George VI’s coronation took place May 12, 1937, the date previously intended for Edward VIII.]

On the last day of the year, the Chronicle reported local businesses had experienced record sales during the holidays, a welcome sign during the last years of the Depression. The article stated that, “Sales of liquor under seal, the volume of gift purchases in toys and novelties, and business in dry goods was double the volume of last Christmas.”

December, 1961

A coroner’s inquest into the death of a Ladysmith High School student has ruled that no one is to blame. Ralph Willcox, 18, drowned when the car in which he and two friends were riding skidded off the slippery Government Wharf. The driver, Michael Kotilla, 17, and another passenger, Michael Battie, 15, escaped, but Willcox could not get his door open in time. It was estimated that the car was travelling at 20 miles per hour when it approached the rain-slicked wharf, but the tires had only 30 per cent of the tread left, and the driver was unable to stop the vehicle from sliding into the sea.

Quick thinking by a 13-year-old prevented a tragedy when fire broke out in the home of Delbert Rozell. Nancy Rinta was babysitting the Rozells’ four children when she realized the house was on fire. She calmly instructed the three older children to go across the alley to summon her parents while she entered the front bedroom to rescue a 10-month-old baby. Firemen were on the scene within minutes, but Fire Chief James Lumsden credited Nancy’s calm approach and quick action with saving the children’s lives.

Compiled by Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith Historical Society