Welcome sign, 1950s. CDM 2009.23.151.

Bringing the Past into the Future


It’s as if the Argus newspaper anticipated the 2020 Heritage Week theme 70 years ago when it sponsored a high school writing contest “What will Courtenay by like in 1970?” The topic seems a perfect fit with “Bringing the Past into the Future.”

Essays from four winners were reprinted in the March and April 1950 Argus editions. The winners were Betty Ann Carstens, Chere Malcolm, Joan Tilbe (later Robertson) and Barbara Marriott (later Parker).

All the student essays mentioned resource industries in their predictions. For example, logging would decrease but spawn other industries in Courtenay like a furniture plant and a match factory producing thousands of boxes of matches per day.

Agriculture would increase. In fact one essay forecasted the Valley would become the “bread basket of Vancouver Island.” There would be a fruit cannery built in 1960 as well as a jam factory to utilize berries.

Dairying would become huge with the Comox Creamery shipping its superlative products to all corners of the globe.

Increased tourist trade would be a given with a new four lane highway and planes coming in to Comox airport. One student envisioned a new road surfacing material that would be absolutely non-skid no matter the weather.

Tourists would travel to Courtenay to enjoy the beauties of Forbidden Plateau. By 1970, Courtenay would boast two large hotels and more than ten auto resorts.

And of course, population would rise. Courtenay would become the “Vancouver” of the Valley after incorporating with Comox which would act as a residential district.