Incorporated on November 3rd 1914, the Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmer Institute gave settlers new to the area a place to congregate, to share information and to seek needed help from those already established in our newly forming and thriving farming community.
As Cobble Hill and the surrounding communities did not have any form of local governance until the late 1960s, the Farmers Institute along with other local organizations joined together to act on behalf of its citizens.
As such, the Farmers Institute provided a social outlet for pioneers in addition to supplying agricultural needs like advice, seeds, fertilizer and blasting powder.
It also acted with individuals, businesses and other groups to build amenities like the Cenotaph, which can be seen at the corner of Fisher Road and Heigh Street, as well as ensure schools and churches were built in the area.
Today, the Farmers Institute acts as a community hub. The Cobble Hill Hall is the only historic community hall remaining from those early years. The community hall in Shawnigan Lake was replaced by a modern recreation facility run by the Cowichan Valley Regional District and in Mill Bay, the Mill Bay Community League Hall is also more current and sits on the same site as the Kerry Park Recreation Centre.
The facilities and grounds owned and operated by the Farmers Institute are managed and maintained entirely by volunteers. Governance is provided by a 12-person board of directors who are elected annually by the general membership.
We are very fortunate to live in a community where volunteerism plays such a huge role in who we are. This helps to define us as well as accentuate the value of living in a rural agricultural area where the lifestyle we all enjoy remains.
Board of Directors
- Roger Painter - President
- Gerry Giles - Secretary
- George Robbins - Past President
- Jason Walker - Vice President
- Robin Brett - Treasurer
- Dave Bilkoski
- Roy Davies
- Bill Dumont
- John English
- Blair Herbert
- Nellie Poelman
- Lynne Pohynayko
- Bill Wikkerink
We are all facing challenges in the coming year, and perhaps beyond, due to the Corona Virus. We, at the Farmers Institute, are also challenged as we work on new ways to help the community and to conduct our business.
Before getting to the future, I would like to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers and helpers who continue to contribute so much to the success of our Society and to the community as a whole. I am most grateful to those who helped support the numerous Cobble Hill events, groups and activities. This was truly a banner year.
We are moving ahead on a unique approach for this year’s Fair. We will hold a ‘Virtual’ Cobble Hill Fair with entries submitted electronically. This will involve people entering various categories by taking pictures of their products, whether it’s a quilt, baking, flowers, a sheep or a cabbage. Once submitted, these photos will be posted on our Fair website and judged within their classification with others who have also entered. The end result will be posted on our website for display. No fees will be charged to enter the Virtual Fair, and we are already working on the Fair Catalogue. It will contain the details of how the event will be done.
Information on this unique approach and how to participate will be well advertised and posted widely on electronic media. We are very proud of our Fair as this is our 111th event. We hope this will be a good way to keep the Fair alive and happening. Certainly as we look back years from now we will be proud of the notion that we kept going even under the very unusual circumstances facing us today.
We hope you and your family will participate in our ‘Virtual Fair’. This is undoubtedly one of the best growing seasons we have had in years. Also with our enriched Children and Youth sections the young people in our community will be given lots of opportunity to show case their talents far and wide. I’m looking forward to seeing your entries. Although we will miss seeing you at the Fair, we are already looking forward to next year with the hope that everyone in our valley stays safe and well! Take care.
~ Roger Painter, President