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

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Williams Lake’s Brock Hoyer films a segment of the newly-released The Way Home in the city of Revelstoke. (Ryen Dunford photo)
Brock Hoyer stars in new snowbike film: The Way Home

The film is completely free and was released on YouTube on Jan. 22, 2021

The body of Kenneth Seymour Michell was discovered Jan. 14, 2021, behind a Williams Lake business a day after he was released by a judge on conditions. (Photo submitted)
Family looks for answers after Indigenous man dies by suicide following release from custody

System does not care about Indigenous peoples, says First Nations Leadership Council

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read