Looking Back


Here are a few of the people and events reported in the month of May over the past 45 years in Canyon Lake.

45 years ago

In May 1973, Canyon Lake was celebrating its fifth year as a private gated community.

The first woman, Gloria Becker, was elected to the POA Board of Directors.

Filming for the movie “Star Cross” was taking place at the Canyon Lake Motel. The motel served as headquarters during the filming in the area and a small portion of the movie was made there.

May 26 and 27 marked the first Fiesta Days. What the editor of Lighthouse Magazine predicted would be “One of our greatest events,” was in fact to become Canyon Lake’s greatest event. The Festival featured a Miss Canyon Lake contest, music, food, entertainment and games.

The North Ski area slalom course was closed for two days as members of the Canyon Lake Ski Club cleaned up the area in preparation for summer tournaments.

The Canyon Lake Woman’s Club was sponsoring a number of events, including Tuesday evening exercise classes, Friday bike rides, beginners tennis, an Arts and Crafts Workshop on Wednesday evenings and a bazaar booth at Fiesta Days on May 26 and 27.

The board approved getting bids for installing a handicap ramp at the lodge. The Woman’s Club raised $200 to go toward the project.

The Men’s Club erected a flagpole in front of the Canyon Lake Clubhouse in time for Memorial Day.

40 years ago

In May 1978, the POA Board of Directors approved a resolution that 15 percent of the money raised by all booths on Fiesta Day would be donated to the baseball diamond being built on Longhorn Drive. The board also authorized a Canyon Lake Booster Program to help reduce the subsidy of the lodge restaurant. Participants of the program were issued a card which would be punched each time they ate at the restaurant. Forty-eight punches entitled the cardholder to a free meal.

POA President Chuck Bishop reported there had not been another burglary in the community since two rewards of $500 were offered for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for burglaries in previous months.

The Equestrian Club voted to help fund the installation of new arena lights so that the group could hold evening shows. Additionally, five new foaling stalls had been purchased and installed at the equestrian center at a cost of $3,316.

The board authorized the purchase of another security vehicle with monies left over from the previous year’s budget. A Ford Granada four-door sedan was purchased at a cost of $6,104. Also approved was the purchase of an additional tractor and mower for the golf course so there would be a back-up when one broke down.

General Manager Floyd Fiddler reported the POA had $57,028.49 left in the General Fund, far better than the $40,000 that was expected.

The Lions Club held its annual Pancake Breakfast at Canyon Lake Community Church.

The Woman’s Club held a White Elephant sale at its booth during Fiesta Day. The Art Association held an Art Show on Fiesta Day on the lawn at the lodge. Professional and amateur artists competed for 10 cash prizes and various awards.

A two bedroom, two bath Condo on Treasure Island was being offered for rent at $425 per month. A waterfront lot near Eastport was being offered for $52,500.

35 years ago

In May 1983, Canyon Lake hosted the second annual Southern California Milk Carton Boat Race. There were approximately 100 entrants from as far away as New Mexico competing for more than $3,000.

Sierra Park North on Vacation Drive was renamed Scouts Sierra Family Park after the board approved a two to three year project to make improvements to the park by the Canyon Lake Scouts. Plans for the five-acre area included landscaping, a 4,000 sq. ft. Scout House, and the installation of a storm drain, access road, parking spaces, pathways, benches and barbecues. Residents, businesses and contractors rallied around the scouts offering donations, equipment and supplies.

The Home Owners Club sponsored the second annual “Colorful Canyon Lake Celebration.” The event was created to honor homes that reflect the care and maintenance that characterize pride of ownership and the beauty of Canyon Lake. Residents who chose to participate were judged for Home of the Year in the categories of lakefront, streetfront and mobile home.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved a lease agreement with the POA for a fire station building at an annual rent equal to the annual county tax assessment but not to exceed $2,500. The action allowed the Fire Department to occupy the existing building in Canyon Lake for the fire station which would be staffed by an all-volunteer company.

The lake was closed to high-speed boats and skiers due to the heavy rains that raised lake levels a foot over the dam spillway. Many private docks sustained heavy damage and the shoreline had eroded around the entire lake.

New docks installed at the lodge were available for rent by POA members. Boat slips could be rented on an annual basis for $350 or on a monthly basis for $35.

30 years ago

In May 1988, Canyon Lake’s annual Fiesta Day was celebrated as Fiesta del Lago. Residents and parade goers were encouraged to dress in Mexican garb in keeping with the South-of-the-Border theme. Parade Grand Marshals were Bill Gault, founder of Gault Field, and Pam Jandt, one of the original founders of Canyon Lake’s annual Chili Cook-off.

POA General Manager Don Drake spoke at a Home Owners Club meeting where he stressed goals of de-centralizing management, cross-training employees, initiating a preventative maintenance program and overseeing orderly and progressive growth of Canyon Lake.

After hours phone calls to the POA offices were being diverted to security personnel at the Main Gate. In order to free up guards to focus on traffic and create more convenience to members, the POA was in the process of developing an electronic answering system to accept calls from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. when receptionists were not on duty.

The POA Board of Directors authorized funding for the development of Evans Park West in the amount of $8,000 and landscaping at both entrances of Fairway Estates and signage at the entrance of Canyon Lake Estates in the amount of $6,500.

In Club News, the Twirlers held a Maypole Dinner Dance, the Woman’s Club held its annual Home Tour at a cost of $3 per person and the Equestrian Club held a horse show. A new addition to the equestrian center was a petting zoo with two miniature horses, a goat, a rabbit and two chickens. The mini petting zoo was open to residents and Canyon Lake children’s clubs. The Home Owners Club continued to work on the development of exercise stations and paths at Evans Park West.

25 years ago

File Photo

In May 1993, Canyon Lake entered a float in Riverside County’s Centennial Parade held in the City of Riverside. Miss Canyon Lake Jennifer O’Dell rode on the float and represented the City of Canyon Lake.

The Board of Directors made a decision on the controversial street sign debate. Many residents preferred the existing low profile wood signs that were difficult for fire, police and ambulance services to read.  In a 3-2 vote the board authorized general manager Don Drake to retain bids for 126 reflective streets signs on poles to be placed on Canyon Lake’s main streets. The board ruled the remaining 200 wooden signs would be refurbished by a group of volunteers.

In a split vote, the Board of Directors voted to cancel its support for Canyon Lake’s 25th anniversary celebration scheduled for May 23, citing financial considerations. Chair of the committee spearheading the event, Vic Knight, announced on his “Talk of the Town” local television show that the event had been canceled. Within minutes residents and businesses came forward offering financial support for the event. The volunteer committee managed to put together the event in less than two months with hundreds in attendance.

Three and a half months into Canyon Lake’s Recycling Program, Canyon Lake Environmental announced that 41 percent of the city’s residential waste was being recycled. The group praised residents for doing a great job of recycling.

The Friday Flyer becomes “The Flyer” for a few months. The POA Board successfully convinced a Superior Court judge that Friday be removed from the newspapers name The Friday Flyer. The judgment also stated that “The Flyer” could not use the POA logo or claim that it is an official publication for the POA. Over 1,000 residents signed a petition of support for keeping the name The Friday Flyer.

20 years ago

In May 1998, Canyon Lake celebrated its 30th birthday on Fiesta Day. Pictured is the Fiesta Day float celebrating the anniversary. File Photo

In May 1998, a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held at East Port for long-awaited improvements. On hand for the event were members of the new royal court and dignitaries from the city and POA. Resident Vic Knight emceed the event which included music from the band Traveling Light and Casey Heinbuch singing the National Anthem. A Basketball Shooting contest was held with prizes going to all winners. Improvements included new basketball courts, a seawall, restrooms, storage building, landscaped grassy areas, paved walkways, motorcycle parking area and an improved launch ramp.

File photo

The Canyon Lake community came together to show support for the Zermeno family, whose three-year-old daughter Jessica was facing a kidney transplant. A benefit concert and fundraiser was held at Indian Beach.

A main lake four bedroom luxury home was being offered for $599,000 and a golf course three bedroom, three car garage home with an above ground pool was being offered at $254,900.

Rallies were being held at the corner of Greenwald and Highway 74 to obtain funding from Caltrans and Riverside County to improve the dangerous roadway along Greenwald. A major artery for residents living in the north side of Canyon Lake and 2,400 school children per day, 45 lives had been lost on the road from 1988 to 1998.

The Chamber of Commerce held a Business Showcase event in Towne Center for residents to become better acquainted with local businesses. Participating businesses had booths where they featured the products or services offered. Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina and Amato’s offered free food, Cal Kool offered soft drinks and Canyon Lake Travel passed out cookies.

“Happy 30th Birthday, Canyon Lake,”  was the theme for the 1998 Fiesta Day. Residents were asked to share their favorite birthday memories and submit them to the POA for a contest in the honor of the community’s milestone birthday. Winners of various age groups received prizes and were invited to ride in the Fiesta Day Parade.

15 years ago

In May 2003, Mayor Jack Wamsley and the city council presented resident Gunnery Sergeant John Collins with a proclamation honoring him for his service to his country in the Marine Corps. A 20-year veteran with the Marine Corps, John was deployed to Iraq in February 2003 and was injured by a landmine Mar. 22, 2003. John was also the guest of honor at the May Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce meeting and participated in the Fiesta Day Parade.

Residents Joy and Chuck Call spotted a bobcat lounging on a wall near their home on Longhorn Drive. According to Chuck, he’d seen the cat about once a week since grading began in Tuscany Hills behind Happy Camp.

Plans to put three stop signs at Continental Drive and Canyon Lake Drive South were abandoned after traffic engineer and Canyon Laker Steve Libring pointed out concerns to the POA Board of Directors. Steve expressed that three stop signs would disrupt the flow at the main gate and back up traffic flowing into the community, causing even more problems.

A five bedroom, two and a half bath Cape Cod style home with mountain and lake views was being offered for $529,000. A three bedroom home with a loft and large backyard was being offered at $289,500 and a lakefront 2,700 sq. ft., three bedroom, three bath home was offered for sale at $539,000.

The theme for Fiesta Day was “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” A special feature of the parade was a brigade of 50 golf carts carrying Canyon Lake veterans.

10 years ago

A “Welcome to Summer Luau,” was held at Happy Camp on May 17, 2008. The event would showcase improvements made at the campground including the horseshoe pits, playground equipment, new trees and sod. Event activities included a silent raffle, face painting and limbo and hula contests. A traditional Hawaiian meal could be purchased for $6 per person.

After a special closed session, the Canyon Lake City Council voted 3-2 to remove Mayor Pro Tem Frank Kessler from his various committee positions. The move was made following the discovery by city staff of possible inappropriate charges by Kessler made on a city-issued credit card. Later that month, council voted to remove Kessler from the position of Mayor Pro Tem.

Canyon Lake’s efforts to annex a 22-acre portion of Meadowbrook was stopped in its tracks when the Lake Elsinore City Council denied the request.

Pyrotechnics were heard around Canyon Lake, but not in the usual celebratory fashion. Treasure Island had become inundated with 250 to 500 cormorants that had been nesting in the island’s trees. The pesky birds were littering cars, sidewalks, docks and roofs with feces. The Treasure Island Homeowners Association obtained permission from the POA to use pyrotechnics as a way of scaring off the birds.

The Canyon Lake Cotillion hosted a Mad Hatters Night where everyone was invited to decorate a hat. Winners of the hat decorating contest were Gina Arce first place, Jessica DeGard second place and Ashley DeGard third place.

Canyon Lake Police Department Deputy Steve Sanderson received the “Lifesaving Award” at the Riverside Sheriff’s Department annual awards ceremony for his quick response and decisive action in saving the life of a four-month-old baby.

5 years ago

In May 2013, Canyon Lake acquired three new police cars. Pictured is deputy Mel Kabbara standing in front of one of the new black and whites at Sierra Park. File Photo

In May 2013, the Canyon Lake Police Department added three new patrol cars with a new look. The previous patrol cars owned by the City of Canyon Lake were blue and white. The new cars were black and white and owned by Riverside County.

Former editor of The Friday Flyer, Sharon Rice, was chosen to serve as Grand Marshal for the upcoming Fiesta Day Parade.

Members of the Lioness Club delivered 82 pounds of pull-tabs to Redlands College as part of Ronald McDonald’s “Million Pull Tab Day.” The ladies also delivered 129 pounds of pull-tabs that were collected by students and teachers of Canyon Lake Middle School.

The fate of Fire Station 60 hung in the balance as the city council weighed a variety of options including turning over the city’s fire tax revenue over to the cities of Menifee or Lake Elsinore, Disincorporation, keeping it open in the hopes that residents would pass a new public safety tax or keeping it open exhausting city reserves and possibly going bankrupt.

A 2,754 sq. ft., three bedroom, three and a half bath waterfront home was being offered at $595,000 and a 1848 sq. ft., three bedroom, two and a half bath home was being offered at $279,000.

1 year ago

After two years of pleading with the county to serve Canyon Lake with a smaller crew at a lesser cost so that Canyon Lake could reopen Fire Station 60, the Board of Supervisors approved a new one-year fire protection contract on Tuesday, May 9, for the City of Canyon Lake.

Temescal Canyon High School varsity softball team won the Sunbelt League championship title for the third consecutive year. League finals were held on May 9 at TCHS.

Canyon Laker Inga Loy and friend Kathy Carbaugh won a bronze medal in the 4th annual Paso Robles Wine Country Classic Pickleball Tournament.

On May 20, the Canyon Lake Fine Arts Guild present “Fortunate Son,” a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, at the lodge. Also on May 20, the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce held its 1st annual Ball Drop at the golf course.

Eleven teams participated in the Canyon Lake Bassmasters annual Member-Guest Tournament. The team of Joe Merrill and his guest Donna Jo Wilson took first place with a total fish weight of 19 pounds.

The theme of Fiesta Day was “Stars, Stripes and Fiesta.”