Published On: Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Comox Valley Chamber: 1940-1959: Ups and Downs But Still Moving Forward

With the world at war and the “boys” back in the trenches, challenges faced everyone in the early 1940s.

For the Courtenay Chamber of Commerce (then known as the Board of Trade), it was no different. Budgetary shortfalls and low membership hindered the organization. Despite that, the Board managed to keep moving forward through the decade and into the next with unwavering commitment to the local communities.

Fighting to survive in the forties

Reports from the Board of Trade’s 1940 Annual General Meeting noted that dredging of the slough had allowed additional boats to use it, but more good roads were needed as Courtenay evolved into a business centre. And freight charges to the North Island continued to be an issue, so the board vowed to investigate the “discrimination.”

The Board also approached the City about reducing commercial electrical rates. And why not? The area’s 25-cycle electrical system had a reputation for being temperamental. That summer it caused a poor tourist’s radio to blow up!

Understandably, those and other civic issues took a back seat to war efforts through the next few years. With a reduction in meetings and support of its members, the organization managed to survive and forge ahead in its backing of various local endeavours, including the championing of a new wharf in Comox, flights to Vancouver with Queen Charlotte Airlines and the ongoing road issues.

Fit for the fifties

Though the Chamber entered the new decade $40 in the red, things were looking up. Forty new members had joined, bringing the total to 118. And by 1951, the deficit had become a $860 surplus!

Advocating for proper ferry service to Hornby, hosting civic events and dances, staging a fair for provincial Chambers of Commerce and contributing to Upper Island tourism made up some of the organization’s duties in the early fifties.

Still, the Chamber encountered occasional setbacks and teetered on bankruptcy in 1957. Once again, a membership drive took place and the community responded.

By 1958, both citizens and City Hall recognized the Chamber’s value, and council allowed for purchase of a site for a new Tourist Information Centre near the city limits. The 21st Street location included a welcome arch, a park and boat-launching facilities on the Courtenay River – our home to this very day!

To see a full version of this article and others celebrating our past, please visit our website at www.comoxvalleychamber.com.

Dianne Hawkins is CEO of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Comox Valley Chamber: Building Good Business since 1919
250-334-3234.