Strathcona Wilderness Institute

City Centennial & Park History

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With the City of Courtenay in the Comox Valley celebrating its Centennial this year, it is interesting to highlight the roles some early Courtenay residents played in areas of the Forbidden Plateau that are now within Strathcona Park.

The City was incorporated on Jan. 1, 1915. By the 1930’s, the City was looking for water sources to serve the growing population. Plateau explorer Clinton Wood, who first visited the Forbidden Plateau area in 1925, was often accompanied on his early explorations by various Courtenay men, including William (Bill) Douglas, one of the first Courtenay Aldermen (municipal politicians known as Councillors today).

Two lakes about halfway across the Plateau at the headwaters of the Browns River were deemed suitable for a municipal water source. The pair were eventually named Douglas Lake and McKenzie Lake, the latter after John McKenzie, mayor of Courtenay at the time that water rights were obtained to dam this lake in 1929. Remnants of the wooden dam structure are still visible on the outflow creek, and a cabin & cairn at the lake  acknowledge William Douglas.

Just to the west, Netuts Lake is the only one that retains an Indian name Рthe first name suggested on 20 September 1935, at a public meeting held in Courtenay to determine potential names for inclusion on the new map of Forbidden Plateau, was Macintyre Lake, for John Macintyre, a former mayor of Courtenay. Indian names were suggested for all three lakes and after several changes  the final names were settled.

Nearby Pearse Lake was named after Theed Pearse, a noted naturalist, former alderman and later mayor of Courtenay. More interesting place names related to Theed Pearse are discussed here.

Comox Valley elder & environmentalist Ruth Masters was involved in naming many of the features of Forbidden Plateau. At the headwaters of Beech Creek to the south , a cluster of small lakes was named Aldermen Lakes, after several other aldermen of the City of Courtenay.

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