Posted on

Buildings that have disappeared

I think it was mid 1990s when I started to upload old photos.  Years later when  Photobucket first strutted its stuff I courageously put everything on line and later moved to Flickr and finally Picasa (I am a Picasa guy). The photos were taken with an M4P and later also with FM2 and F3 camera bodies all touting topnotch lenses. During one or more of my uploadings, in my ignorance, I lost all the info and resolution these photos had in them and they turned into 200 kb files give or take.  At the time I did not even realize it. Then in a major upheaval I lost most of the old photo collection. Right now because I don’t like the quality of these images they are in a private Picasa file. However just for fun I am showing some photos of long gone structures.

The first photo is the Youbou saw mill on Cowichan Lake.  The deep lake must still have well preserved logs that have sunk to the bottom. The mill was dismantled around 1990 or 1991 and this photo was taken 1980 or thereabouts.

All the original hotels in Duncan are gone. The final two to go were the Commercial Hotel, which rebirthed as the Phoenix Station Motor Inn after it burned down, and the Tzouhalem Hotel which was demolished in 1990. The Commercial was not a pretty building but I could rent a bathroom there in the early seventies. The tub was large enough for an army and every week once or twice  my girlfriend and I would rent a bathroom for a dollar and were provided with two large towels. Great deal. Also the lounge on the second floor looked out over the railroad track and, especially during summer, was a very pleasant place to take a load off (especially after a bath there). I have no photos of that building. The Tzouhalem had an okay lounge and, like the Commercial, a humongous beer parlor one could not look out of or look into. The beer parlor opened at nine o’clock making it the earliest one in town. Pretty well up to its final days that beer parlor had a men’ side and women’s side to it. A man could only sit with the women if he had a woman accompanying him. Often the men’s side was a lot wilder but definitely not always. Here are two photos of the building. I wish I had some different angles, but this’ll have to do.

For the final photo I selected a tea house which was still open (sometimes) when first I visited here in 1965, but that time marked its final days. Situated on the Cowichan Bay Rd just off today’s highway it serviced the past century travellers on their way down island or up island. Once the new highway was built its high times were over even though  tennis players from the Cowichan Bay grass courts must have still frequented the place. I have never been able to find any information about it on the internet. Today its location is overgrown and there are no signs that a tea house once was there.

As an after thought I’m adding another photo. It is related to the Cowichan Valley Forest Museum. Gerry Wellburn, who was logging the Shawnigan area before selling to McMillan ( if I remember my history right McMillan Bloedel became what it was with the acquirement of the Wellburn operation), started the museum in his backyard on Waters Rd in Glenora. The estate was beautifully landscaped with a gorgeous garden maintained for his wife. I think that was his way, at the time, of keeping her happy in the middle of nowhere. When the museum there became too much of an invasion of privacy it relocated to its present location. His daughter and son in law, Jack and Lois Philips (the best people one could possibly meet) managed the property  in the eighties and hired me as a live in caretaker. Those were five excellent years that allowed me to develop some business in photography (studio and location portraits and weddings).  At any rate getting back to the point of the story, when everything museumwise was being moved to the new property, there was also quite a bit of stuff left behind. Some vehicles in sheds and other memorabalia elsewhere on that land. The following photograph shows me some thirty years ago handling a snow plow.



About Joseph de Lange

Before retirement worked in art galleries, a photo studio, offices, and the trades. Don't travel much anymore but still photograph. For the past 5 years 95% of my photography is done with the phone. My prediction for big cameras: DSLRs and their beautiful lenses and even the smaller mirrorless cameras will be mostly a historical footnote in the not too distant future.

10 responses to “Buildings that have disappeared

  1. wolke205

    The photo of the Teahouse is amazing. I also like Picasa 🙂

    • Thank you Wolke, Yes that tea house stood there for many years as a relic of the past. As far as photo sites are concerned I have experience with three. Photobucket when it first started up was destructive to my photos, but I hear it is pretty good now. Flickr I used before Picasa. Forever signing in on that site. I could not even think of it without having to sign in. Generally I find it labor intensive. Picasa is easy to work with and gives me everything I want from a photo upload site and I haven’t looked back since joining it. Bye for now.

  2. What a GREAT post Joseph! We did a full expose on our blog in Youbou this last summer, but as you well know the mill is now long gone! I searched and searched for great shots to use as comparison in our blog, but your post wasn’t live yet!! This is a great blog post, and it highlights the very reason why we do the work we do. Very informative, and important as documentation. I love this!

    • Joseph de Lange ⋅

      Initially, I remember, I had some concerns about the colorcast, but it is actually realistic. For a long time after it was pulled down it was a barren gated property. When I get home I have to check on your post re Youbou, but also it is about time to take a drive out there.

      • It was still gated last summer when we were out there, it was actually a bit of a strange landscape to come across. We did a 3 part series last year, “The Toads In Youbou” in case you wanted to see that. When I was young, my friends and I used to camp just outside Youbou on Lake Cowichan almost every weekend, so this area is highly meaningful to me personally. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed all this!

        • Joseph de Lange ⋅

          Yes I have spend some time there, but not in the campsite. Perhaps we met sometime long ago somewhere along those shores.

  3. ehpem

    These are really interesting photos, and history to go with it. Its a shame you lost your higher res versions of the images, but you have enough to spark your memories which is more than many people that are separated from their photos.
    I have not spent a lot of time on Lake Cowichan, but have been going there since the early 70’s. Usually I pass through on my way to the west coast.

    • Joseph de Lange ⋅

      Lake Cowichan is an area with history alright, and the scenic through way to the west coast. In the olden days at least, Lake Cowichan was the place to stop for a beer and meet fellow travelers on our way home from Pachena or Sombrio.

  4. Greetings, I am pleased I found your blog as my interest is in the history of the old hotels. I enjoyed your brief description of both the Commercial and Tzouhalem Hotels and the additional photogrpahs were a bonus. Please feel free to drop by my flickr page as I have put together two collages of both the history of the Tzouhalem and the Commercial Hotels. I am also writing an article on the history of these great historic places on my blog:
    I am adding your blog as a favourite and will be dropping by every once in awhile as I appreciate images and the history of past buildings no longer in existance. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.