A cross that sat perched atop Mount Tzouhalem in the Cowichan Valley for decades is gone.
Over the weekend, photos began circulating on social media showing just the concrete base and a small bit of metal where the white large cross used to sit on Mount Tzouhalem.
North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring confirmed with CHEK News on Sunday that the religious symbol, which had been a fixture on the mountain for decades, is no more. He said it appears the cross was cut down intentionally.
“It was deliberately removed. I mean, if you’d look at one of the pictures, you can see, somebody used a grinder to cut the metal at the base of the cross,” he said.
The large white cross was installed on Mount Tzouhalem, which falls within the North Cowichan municipal limits, was installed in the 1980s — replacing a wooden one that had been erected years earlier.
“It’s really a community asset, or it was I mean,” said Siebring. “It was the two Catholic churches, one of them primarily with First Nations congregation and the other one just down the road, who installed a metal version of the cross some years ago after wooden versions repeatedly kept getting vandalized.”
The land where the cross was located on Mount Tzouhalem is part of the Chase Woods Nature Preserve — owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada — and speculation has already begun online about what the future of the site.
“I’ve seen a bunch of online chatter of different suggestions of what you might replace [the cross] with. Some are saying put up a totem pole, some are saying put up a totem pole and a cross,” he said. “I have no particular preferences one way or the other.”
Given that the incident just happened, Siebring said it is too early to say whether a new cross will be installed on the mountain adding that discussions will likely need to be held in the coming weeks.
“There will have to be discussions about what it’s going to be replaced with, whether that’s another cross, whether it’s a combination of both a cross and a totem pole, or whether it’s a totem pole,” he said. “I’m sure that there will be discussions with Cowichan Tribes and local First Nations and the conservancy in the weeks ahead, as we try to figure out what to do moving forward.”
While it’s not clear who removed the cross or why, it is not the only monument on the Island that has come down or been damaged recently. A few weeks ago a statue of Captain James Cook in Victoria was removed and a totem pole was burned in Mill Bay shortly afterwards.
The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP is now investigating the removal of the cross, according to Siebring, who said that at the end of the day, the Cowichan Valley has lost a landmark.
“It was an important community monument,” he said.
CHEK News reached out to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP for comment.