Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb moved with his family to the Williams Lake area in 1955 and has enjoyed calling it his hometown ever since. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb moved with his family to the Williams Lake area in 1955 and has enjoyed calling it his hometown ever since. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Mayor Walt Cobb

Cobb has called Williams Lake home since 1955

Who says a grocery store romance cannot last?

It was at Super Valu while working as the produce manager that Williams Lake mayor Walt Cobb met his wife Lynnette [Swanson] in 1965.

Lynnette was born in Chilliwack. When she was nine years old, her mother died, and she moved to Big Lake with her father, Sven Swanson, who was a rancher.

She was working as a cashier at Super Valu and asked Cobb out on a date for her graduation from high school.

“It’s all our history now — it never ended,” Cobb recalled with a smile. “We were married in 1965 — I was 21 and she was 18.”

The Cobbs raised two children — Randy and Tony — and also ran their own businesses.

He had Walt’s Mens Shop and Lynnette has Lynnette’s Look, a dress shop.

At one point Cobb also started Ranton Renovations, with the name inspired by the first three letters of his children’s names.

While the mayor has called Williams Lake home since 1955. He was born in Erickson, Manitoba.

Walt’s father Fred was a logger and first moved the family to B.C. in 1951 where they lived at Arrow Lakes in the bush and he supplied cord wood for the S.S. Minto, a paddle wheeler that ran on the Arrow Lakes.

“We lived in the bush and went by horse and sleigh five miles to the school bus. It was winter when we moved there, but nothing as harsh as Manitoba.”

When the S.S. Minto was no longer in operation, the family moved a few places before going to the Cariboo — first living in Forest Grove and eventually Fox Mountain where his father purchased a sawmill.

The family often lived in 12 by 20 foot mill shacks, and his mom Christina often was the cook for the camps.

That first year on Fox Mountain Cobb and his younger brother Doug did school by correspondence because Highway 97 was not completed yet and there was no school bus. Their older sister Betty was in Grade 7 so she boarded in town and attended school.

By the second year there were enough kids to warrant a bus and the dad of one of the families — the Fowlers — hauled everyone to school in the back of his pickup truck inside a canopy he built for the truck.

Eventually the school district supplied a van and Cobb attended school where the library is today.

As he reached Grade 7 a new secondary school had opened on Carson Drive and that’s where he graduated from in 1963.

During high school he worked part-time at Tom Boy Grocery Store where CJ’s Western Grill is now, but his post-secondary plan was to become a court recorder because he studied shorthand and typing while in school.

“I could write 350 words a minute in shorthand and even got a certificate, but when I registered for college it was determined that I had learned the wrong shorthand.”

Cobb tried a few other jobs, such as working for equipment companies and a sawmill at Puntzi Mountain, before returning to work in Williams Lake at Super Valu in 1964. His foray into men’s wear began as a partnership at Lords Men’s Wear, but when it sold he started Walt’s Mens Shop, which he operated 42 years.

As part of the business community for many years, Cobb was involved with the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, and decided to run for alderman and was elected in 1980, staying on until 1990 when he was elected mayor.

In 1996 he was defeated as mayor. In 2001 he ran for the BC Liberal Party and was MLA from 2001 to 2005.

Cobb was re-elected mayor in 2014 until present, including when he led the community through the 2017 wildfires.

Read more: Williams Lake mayor to give presentation at national forest fires symposium

“Williams Lake is my home and I never, ever found the need to go anywhere else,” he said of why he has stayed. “I like the community, I did business here and in the early days being involved with cubs, scouts and the chamber, I knew almost everyone in town.”

It’s a friendly place, he added.

“Our kids went away to university and both returned and are living here too. It’s a good place to live, work and raise a family.”

Read more: Mayor Walt Cobb awarded Forest Community Champion by FPAC



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Williams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cariboo Regional District has launched a broadband survey for residents, businesses and organizations. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
CRD launches internet, cellular services survey

Residents, businesses and organizations invited to give input

Staff at the Boys and Girls Club of WIlliams Lake and District organize a donation from Lake City Secondary School for the youth food bank. (Photo submitted)
Christmas cheer on the menu at Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District

A number of things are in the works, including a winter wonderland

Email your letters to editor@wltribune.com
Weed removal only a band-aid solution

Aren’t aren’t we talking about why there are weeds in Williams Lake?

A group advocating for people experiencing homelessness in Williams Lake has asked the city for land to set up a temporary homeless camp. Here is a makeshift shelter on a city parking lot where someone was living in for a few days in October. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City of Williams Lake asked for land to house a camp for homeless

It would be a temporary solution, said Judy Ventry

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read