Cowichan ceilings stuffed with Leader stories

Leader-reader Shane Doucette with copies of 1962 our newspaper and magazine he, like many other locals,  found used as home insulation. - Peter W. Rusland
Leader-reader Shane Doucette with copies of 1962 our newspaper and magazine he, like many other locals, found used as home insulation.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Newspaper recycling had a different meaning back in 1961.

That's when homeowners jammed attics and basement ceilings with old copies of the Cowichan Leader, hoping to gain insulation.

They also hoped all that dry newspaper didn't fuel fires.

"I guess homes went up like FFFFFFT," said Duncan's Shane Doucette.

He dropped by News Leader Pictorial offices Friday with old Leader pages, and even part of a weekend magazine with a war feature about Dieppe.

"I found these in the ceiling of my basement," he said, hefting his cellphone to show photos of joists packed with our old papers.

"They're all from 1962 and '63. I ripped out the old drywall and it was stuffed full."

So are other homes and buildings, as the Leader started in 1905. Since then, our staff has heard from many other faithful Leader readers such as Doucette.

His crumpled copies are clones of other originals found for folks to read and research at the Cowichan Valley Museum Archives on Duncan city hall's third floor.

Cowichanians with papers and other local artifacts can visit the museum, in our heritage train station, to see if the stuff is of note.

Meanwhile, Docuette was delighted about valley happenings published in the then-broadsheet Leader, sent to a subscribers such as C. Ogroske at RR 2 Duncan.

Back when a copy cost 10ยข, or $4 a year, everything from a Hillbank house fire (reported by the Leader's late, great stringer Jack Fleetwood), to booming employment, Crofton mill pulp exports, Cobble Hill Fall Fair's 53rd event, potter Douglas Ford at work, and Kinsmen honoring Bob Howard and Bob Young, to Cowichan's bid for a new hospital, and ads from the former Bruce's Grocery (now 49th Parallel store) appeared in the Leader.

Some things never change, however. The Oct. 3, 1962 Leader reports 'Patient load exceeds budget: Kings Daughters' Hospital payments delayed but finances are sound.'

Doucette's find complements history shown in Ann Andersen's current weekly Dateline: Cowichan heritage-column sporting items gleaned from our pages in the archives.

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