Project Watershed, K’omoks First Nations to restore sawmill site

There was a time when diners at The Old House restaurant used to gaze across the Courtenay River toward Field’s Sawmill, and consider the nonstop activity of moving and milling large logs an additional delight. As they ate, more than 160 workers operated heavy...

Audubon Day — it’s not for the birds, but the man

John James Audubon, born to French parents, emigrated to the United States in the 1800s and became North America's foremost ornithologist, naturalist and chronicler of birds. His paintings and his life inspired the Audubon Society, dedicated to protecting waterbird...

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Caught in a pink blossom blizzard, and more coming

By Jill Severn -- My neighbor’s flowering cherry tree had a pink blossom blizzard this morning. It didn’t take much wind to set it off; the tree has been blooming its heart out for about a week, and all those petals were ready to let go and fly through the air. It’s a...

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11 interesting facts about the history of Field's Sawmill on the Courtenay River

#1 — The Field family — father Clarence and sons Ron and Roy — founded the original sawmill in 1947 on the site of Arden Elementary. The original property in the Arden area was owned by William Duncan. He built a barn and the building that became the original Fields Sawmill, which was moved to the Courtenay River location in 1949.

#2 — The Fields sold the sawmill to employees Errol Zinck and Bill Phillips in 1969. They resold the mill after just a few years to Peter Gregory of Gregory Manufacturing Ltd.

#3 — Primex Forest Products bought the mill in 1973, primarily to mill and export yellow cedar to the U.S. and Japanese markets. At its peak, Primex employed 160 workers at the Courtenay site.

#4 — Comox Valley citizens tried several times during the 1970s to persuade the City of Courtenay to move the sawmill and protect the Courtenay River estuary. In 1976, Ted Burns tried to move the mill to Vancouver — even Union Bay was suggested — but relocation proved too expensive.

#5 — Primex applied to the City of Courtenay in 1993 to use the site as a storage facility for PCBs. Citizens were shocked because these toxic chemicals  could easily seep into the river and the estuary, and maybe even into Farquharson Farms agricultural land located across Comox Road. But the concerns fell on deaf ears at City Hall as the council approved the request.

#6 — A slowing timber market forced Primex to layoff employees in 2000. The workforce shrunk to 115.

#7 — Interfor bought the sawmill from Primex in 2001 in a deal that including the ACORN mill in the Lower Mainland. People suspected that Interfor didn’t want the Field’s Sawmill but got it as part of the ACORN package.

#8 — Interfor said it lost $8 million in the fiscal year 2003-2004, and the mill had several temporary closures.

#9 — In 2004, Interfor closed the mill. They blamed lower-priced competition for the Japanese market from Chinese and European suppliers. It paid severance to employees and demolished the mill in 2006.

#10 — The provincial Ministry of the Environment investigated site soil contamination. It reported no ground water contamination,only surface contamination, and therefore there was no contamination leaching into the river due to a clay layer on the surface. The province did eventually issue a Certificate that remediation was complete.

#11 — Interfor put the 7.8-acre property up for sale in July 2006 for $5.3 million. Project Watershed began negotiations with Interfor in 2014.

In praise of cultural appropriation

From The Week magazine

The “increasingly strident Left” has some strange notions, said Bari Weiss, but perhaps the silliest is its obsession with stamping out “cultural appropriation.” In Portland, Ore., activists have created a blacklist of “white-owned appropriative restaurants” to boycott, because Caucasians shouldn’t make tacos or dosas. The University of Michigan is hiring a “bias response” worker to “enact cultural appropriation–prevention initiatives.” Is there a more un-American idea than this? Our “mongrel culture” is so wondrously complex because it blends food, music, art, languages, clothing, and sensibilities from all over the world. This is not “stealing,” but “syncretism”—creating something new by mixing old ideas “in revelatory ways.” Ours is a nation where the Russian-born Jewish immigrant Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas,” where black Southerner Jessye Norman became one of the greatest opera singers of all time, where even our national symbol, Lady Liberty, was made in France. Yet the dour enforcers of the cultural-appropriation ban would have us “remain in the ethnic and racial lanes assigned to us by accident of our birth.” No thank you. “Culture should be shared, not hoarded.”

What you need to know about the updated B.C. budget

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s minority New Democrat government says it is starting to build the province all residents want, tabling a budget update that promises to hire 3,500 teachers and build thousands of rental units and homes for the homeless.

Read the full article on the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post.

And the 11 things to know about the new budget update.

Lame Joke Du Jour

 A guy spots a sign outside a house that reads “Talking Dog for Sale.” Intrigued, he walks in.
“So what have you done with your life?” he asks the dog.
“I’ve led a very full life,” says the dog. “I lived in the Alps rescuing avalanche victims. Then I served my country in Iraq. And now I spend my days reading to the residents of a retirement home.”
The guy is flabbergasted. He asks the dog’s owner, “Why on earth would you want to get rid of an incredible dog like that?”
The owner says, “Because he’s a liar! He never did any of that!”

Need a laugh? Check out our archive of lame jokes.

Thought Du Jour

“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”

Sidney J. Harris

About DecafNation

In a world already overpopulated with incivility, think of Decafnation as a refuge from high anxiety. Instead of a triple-shot, pulse boosting caffeine assault on your nervous system, our writing aims to give you the milder buzz of a decaffeinated beverage. But don’t let the coffee metaphor mislead you. You’ll find passionate writing and strong opinions here. The vision is to create a gracious space. A place where people can share well-considered commentary in a respectful atmosphere. Where readers are open to diverse ideas. Where people invite the stranger into their midst, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political sensibility.

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