Category Archives: Society News

MDA King of Ladysmith talk

If you missed the Thursday, March 18, 2021 6:30-7:30 pm  Historically Speaking series “MDA King of Ladysmith” presented by author Daryl Ashby with guest Cindy Damphousse and Rob Johnson, you will be able to watch it on our YouTube channel. Watch for link coming this weekend.

Activity Report Jan/Feb 2021

It feels like Spring! Days are longer (Spring Equinox is March 20th): Snowdrops and Camelias are blooming, Daffodils budding and leaves bursting. Ya gotta love this time of year!

There is also a spring in our step as we are hopefully beginning to emerge from under the dark cloud of Covid-19.  Although an abundance of caution and continued adherence to Covid protocols are still required due to virulent variants, vaccinations are progressing and people are looking forward to getting back to normality later this summer.

The LDHS, like everyone else, has been affected by Covid. Instead of slowing us down though, the society has been working in different ways, and a lot has been going on. Thanks have to be given to the Federal and Provincial governments for grants to assist with covid-related costs; this has allowed us to switch gears to meet the Covid challenge.


A reduced roster of volunteers has continued working  behind closed doors under strict Covid-19 protocols doing archival work, servicing queries from the public by phone or email and conducting research on society contracts and historical subjects of their own choosing.  Housekeeping on the electronic database and computing system has been ongoing.  An inventory of the computer hardware and software was conducted and a strategy for replacement and upgrading implemented.


A new exhibit, ‘Prime Predators of Vancouver Island’, opened on Family Day February 15th. Twenty-three intrepid visitors came in that day despite the snow. 190 people have viewed the exhibit between February 15-28th, all visits in strict Covid compliance with limited numbers, bubble spacing and strict sanitizing between groups.

The Prime Predator exhibit is a new departure for the museum. Not only does it celebrate and inform about our natural heritage, but it also fulfills a public service by providing information on what people should do if they, say, encounter a cougar or bear on the trails behind the town. Watching kids stare open-mouthed at the cougar, or howl along with the wolves (you can listen to animal sounds by pressing a button), and the “I didn’t know that”s from the adults reading the storyboards has made the six months of hard work preparing the exhibit more than worth it! A huge thank you to the volunteers that made this lovely exhibit possible.

The gallery area upstairs in the Museum is hosting ‘Red Flag Red Flag’, a fibre arts exhibit on Climate Change in the form of multiple triangular pennants, each one a handcrafted design reflecting the effects of Climate Change on our world. Thanks to Val Galvin for curating this exhibit.

During the  winter Museum volunteers have been battling a leaking roof and flooding due to poor perimeter drainage – this requiring shop-vacuuming water, sometimes several times a day, during rainy periods. We are delighted to inform that the LDHS was successful with a CERIP (Community Emergency Recovery Infrastructure Program) grant application (Unique Heritage Infrastructure) and has been awarded $89,000 to repair the roof, fix perimeter drainage and conduct renovations within the building to improve visitor flow, accessibility, space usage and artifact storage. Preliminary discussions regarding the work have been held with the Town of Ladysmith which owns the building.

Industrial Heritage Preservation

The Industrial Heritage Preservation Group has, perhaps, suffered most from the effects of the Covid lockdown as operations at the harbourfront CL&RCo railyard have been in limbo for much of last year and have yet to start up again. Once the volunteers are vaccinated and have built up immunity we can contemplate Saturday morning workbees again. There are lots to do!

We have purchased paint for Loci 11, the Humdergin and Box Car. Hopefully good weather and relaxation of Covid protocols will coincide and let us get on with completing the restoration of these rare artifacts.

A focussed fundraising campaign is being designed targeting purchase/fabrication of key pieces that are missing from Loci 11.  We are eying her 100th birthday in 2023 and would like to have the engine ‘as complete as possible by that date for a grand unveiling.

The loan agreement between the LDHS and the Museum of Port Alberni for the Plymouth 107 gasoline engine has been finalized. We look to the imminent signing and transfer of this engine to Ladysmith. You may remember the dual purpose of getting this engine back: not only did it work at the CL&RCo yard in Ladysmith and thus is of local heritage interest, but also when repaired to running condition it can be used to shunt rolling stock around the trackage – including pulling Loci 11 in and out of her shed.

Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful with a joint LDHS/LMS CERIP grant application for $ to restore the Loci Shed and Car Shop. The south doors to the Loci Shed are in poor shape, and due to safety concerns, cannot be used. We have a tentative arrangement with VIU to assist with the reconstruction of the doors – once we get lumber and $ together to cover costs.

The IHPG continues to work on a proposal for space in the now almost earthquake-proofed Machine Shop as part of the Town’s planned Arts & Heritage Hub component of the Waterfront Development.

The LDHS and the LMS are working together regarding preserving and promoting Harbourfront Heritage. Significant progress has been made on developing a clear understanding of each society’s vision, needs and wants and how best to present these in a unified fashion. Quentin Goodbody and Marnie Craig have been appointed as LDHS and LMS representatives respectively on the newly struck Arts and Heritage Hub Design Steering Committee which is scheduled to hold discussions about how last year’s award to the Town of $3.4mm for Arts & Heritage Hub development will be best spent. The Society is committed to working with stakeholders toward an appropriate balance between retention of heritage features and development of the site.

Communication and Membership

The Society has been focused on increasing communication with members, the general public, other local societies, and the east-central  Vancouver Island heritage community. All this aimed at raising the profile of heritage and the Society and extending its reach to the public.

The LDHS website has been revised and populated with a lot of additional material. The Facebook page is very active with 900+ followers.

Despite the impressive Facebook numbers, our membership remains low – partly due to people forgetting to renew at year-end.  I encourage you to renew either via the website link or contact the Archives (250 245 0100) to arrange payment and receipt. The fee is VERY reasonable – $15.00 per annum for a single, $20.00 for a Family – and goes toward funding activities.

Heritage Week 2021 (February 15-21)

Snowfall at the beginning of the week stopped people from moving about. This prompted extending planned activities to February 28th.

A Covid-friendly outdoor family activity put on jointly by the LDHS and LMS consisting of a ‘Heritage Treasure Trail’ proved very popular. The trail started at the Museum, wound its way through downtown and ended up at the LMS Marina Welcome Centre, with rhymed clues to heritage features along the way and treats and a vintage boat display at the Marina. 257 actually did the Trail; astoundingly the Facebook introduction to the Trail with map and clues drew 4800 views, and the slideshow with answers and information on each of the artifacts was visited 2200 times.

The Annual Ladysmith Heritage Awards ceremony was done by Zoom on Sunday, February 21st. A star-studded cast of recipients included Barrie McDonald, Pamela Anderson, Luke and John Marston and The LMS Heritage Vessel Restoration Group. MC’d by Quentin Goodbody, Mayor Aaron Stone and Chief Roxanne Harris helped give out the awards. Special guests included MP Paul Manley and MLA Doug Routley.  35 computers and devices were logged into the awards on Zoom.  The awards were live-streamed on Facebook , recorded, and as I write this has been viewed 932 times.

Historically Speaking Talks Series

The YouTube recording of Gary Allan’s December 10th talk titled “The Role of Wolves: the lives of wolves, traits, culture and ecological value as an apex predator ” has been viewed 250 times.

Erik Piikila gave a talk in January titled “Ecosystems in the past, changes, and today. Effects of railroad logging, Lessons from the past for Climate Change and Forest Management” which was well received and prompted much thought. His talk has been viewed 243times on the Society’s Youtube channel at the time of writing (March 4th).

Daryl Ashby and Rob Johnson are scheduled to present ” MDA King of Ladysmith” at 6.30pm March 18th. The Zoom link is:

Don’t miss it!

People and Place Neighbourhood Project:

The final project report, spearheaded by Lesley Moore with help by six volunteers and funded by The Heritage Legacy Fund (administered by Heritage BC) was submitted at the end of  December 2020. The research focused on identifying cultural diversity in early Ladysmith and determining whether there were neighbourhoods delineated by race, nationality, religion, creed and how these varied through time. A Resource Kit presents the project results: it includes an illustrated settlement timeline 1889 to 1939,  townsite maps showing the ebb and flow of Ladysmith population, and evidence of neighbourhoods found in aerial photos, panoramas and streetscape photographs, all arranged chronologically. The kit, kept in the Reading Room of the Archives Building, will be available for use by researchers, community groups, museum outreach programs and Ladysmith schools’ Social Studies and Human Geography classes once pandemic restrictions ease.

CVRD Heritage Inventory Project:

This project involved visiting all the Museums and Discovery Centres between Mill Bay and Nanaimo and talking with staff to understand the focus and ‘modus operandi’ of each facility. Shirley Blackstaff, Marina Sacht and Quentin Goodbody completed a report and submitted it to the CVRD in March 2021.  This inventory is useful for the One Community Project reported below.

“ONE Community’ Project:

Funded by The Heritage Legacy Fund of BC (managed by Heritage BC), the first of two scheduled Zoom workshops was held March 1st with 19 representatives of museums, discovery centres and cultural groups in the area between Mill Bay and Nanaimo. The project has the following aims:

  • Getting to know each other within the heritage community
  • Developing a mid-Island Heritage network
  • Improving awareness and understanding of cultures within our community
  • Developing a strategy to raise the profile of Heritage
  • Developing marketing opportunities, emphasizing Heritage Tourism
  • Leveraging national, federal, provincial and municipal assistance

The second Zoom workshop is scheduled for March 15th.

The Beat Goes On – Music in Ladysmith:

This contract, with the Virtual Museum of Canada, will tell the Town and District’s history through music of the era. An explanation of the project will be posted in the near future on the Website. Volunteers with enthusiasm would be most welcome!! Musical bent would be very useful but is not a requirement.

To wrap up:

Despite Covid-19 difficulties, the Society is very active. Grants from Provincial and Federal governments have defrayed our inability to hold fundraising events. This has allowed us to expand into different areas of activity Like everyone else, we are eagerly awaiting an end to Covid restrictions, but must bide the time ‘till it is appropriate for things to open up. That being said, there is plenty of opportunities for volunteers to assist with current projects (such as The Beat Goes On) without having to gather in person. We look forward to hearing from you!


Respectfully submitted by Q Goodbody, President LDHS

Ladysmith Railway Station

Ladysmith Railway Station

What are some of the uses that you would like to see the Ladysmith Railway Station available for?  The LDHS wants to hear from you!

On February 18, 2021, the Ladysmith & District Historical Society and the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to give the LDHS a one-year option on the station to explore the potential uses of the Ladysmith Railway Station.

The MOU gives the society a one-year option on the Ladysmith Railway Station. “This will permit the society to initiate a review of how best the building can serve the community’s non-profit sector. Once an acceptable use is defined, the ICF is willing to consider a long-term lease of its property for a nominal fee, this tenure being important for fundraising efforts to support required rehabilitation of the building,” says LDHS President Quentin Goodbody.

“The Island Corridor Foundation believes these historic buildings are part of the communities where they are located, and it is the people of those communities, in concert and consultation with local and First Nations governments, who are in the best position to determine the future use of these buildings. We applaud the LDHS for taking on this initiative and look forward to working with them to bring the station back to life,” says Larry Stevenson, Chief Executive Officer of ICF.

The ICF has undertaken to incur the cost of a new roof during the 2021 calendar year. The historical society is grateful to the ICF for this opportunity.

“It gives us a full year to collaborate with stakeholder groups and community organizations to explore the opportunities associated with Ladysmith Railway Station building,” says Alex Stuart, who, along with Bill Drysdale, is co-chair of the LDHS Train Station Committee.

Although the original E&N Railway Station burned down and was replaced with the current building in the 1940s, there is a lot of history there.

Drysdale, Chuck Forrest and other volunteers have been clearing out the brush, picking up litter and painting the building for the past five years, recognizing the potential value of the vacant station. “We do intend to bring that building back to life,” says Drysdale. A new roof will go a long way towards it being resurrected.

Ladysmith and Courtney are the only vacant stations along the E&N rail line. The stations range in use but have one thing in common — they are not for profit.

What are some of the uses that you would like to see the Ladysmith Railway Station available for? That’s a question the LDHS will be asking a lot this year. Email your suggestions to or phone 250-245-0423.


Ladysmith & District Historical Society Receives $89,000 Grant to Repair / Renovate the Ladysmith Museum.

The Ladysmith & District Historical Society is thrilled to announce that it has been granted $89,000 by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development as administered by Heritage BC  for repair and renovation of the Ladysmith Museum on First Avenue. This funding, gratefully received, comes through the Unique Heritage Infrastructure Stream of the Province of BC Community Economic Resiliency Infrastructure Program (CERIP).

The LDHS is very grateful to the Province for this significant grant which will allow us to address issues with the building and also improve its functioning as a Museum and community facility,” said Quentin Goodbody, President of the LDHS.

“The money will go toward roof repair, gutter installation, improvement of perimeter drainage and minor renovations to improve space utilization and accessibility. Not only will our community benefit from an improved museum building, but also from the employment that the project will entail.”

The work is anticipated to occur during 2021.

museum in Ladysmith

Ladysmith Museum will be undergoing much needed repairs. 

The Ladysmith & District Historical Society can be contacted by email ( or phone (250 245 0100).

Clues to the Heritage Treasure Trail

Clues to the Heritage Treasure Trail

See how many places you can mark on the map. Take a selfie and post it #ladysmithheritage #bcfamilyday


On my walls and in my halls

I tell about our past.

You’re welcome to come in and browse

what lies within this little house.

Come, learn of things which we can save

by changing ways that we behave.


2 _____________________

In honoured memory I stand

with names of those that left this land

to fight for freedom, justice, choice,

and made the greatest sacrifice.


3 _____________________

‘Neath Horton’s where a doughnut crave

is topped off with a beverage,

on shelves the records do not sound,

yet tell the doings of those around

who shaped our place, our lives, our lot

and how this Town its name begot.


4 _____________________

I held them fast, large sailing craft

until they lost me.

Later found, now in the round

in summers warmth

I stand by water’s rushing sound.


Take care, my dears, on your approach

for photos of your visit.

Before you cross look left, look right,

and left again – before you stride,

make sure no cars or trucks or bikes

are coming where you wish to cross

we do not want to suffer loss.

5 ____________________

Almost a hundred (I’m ninety nine),

seen a few concerts in my time.

Red Robinson and other greats

kept kids of the time out dancing late.

I tell you they had quite the sound

on my stage by the Recreation Ground.

I’m owned by flyers, used to train

the youth who wish fly a plane.

Am rented out for crowds to feast

In normal times LaFF here does meet.


  1. ____________________

A line drawn, curved but straight

and all but here marks the break

twixt Canada and the United States


7 ____________________

Once in a tower

I had the power

to signal a train

and change its lane.

Pull that lever, signal make

Engineer, your train must wait.


8 ____________________

A nest of sorts,

but not so high

and used by birds that do not fly.


9 ____________________

I’m called a bull

but have no horns

no hooves, no tail, no ring,

Suspended high upon the spar

I help the cable sing

as donkey strains

the logs to gain

from where, when chopped

they, crashing, dropped.


10 ____________________

Child of auto

Termed an ass

I built bridges

so trains could pass.



11 ____________________

Not that big, but very strong,

pushing, pulling, I crawled along.

My body’s yellow, my tracks are black,

my driver sat on a seat in the back.


This is where you cross Buller Street.

12 ____________________

Now mostly black, with white and brown,

I’m one of the biggest hotels in Town.

If you look closely you will see

two different names that they called me.


13 ____________________

I had no bar, no glass to clink

for I housed ones that did not drink –

that movement, though, now jaded.

A simple wooden building I,

with yellow siding, faded.

In ‘eighteen with the Spanish flu

they used my rooms to heal those who

were breathless, weak and grevious ill

and keep them isolated.



I brought the ore dug ‘neath the mount

that people called Big Sicker

to make the metal in the wires

that lets my lightbulbs flicker.



Two hands have I which people see

and judge to haste or tarry.

They see my name – not of the day-

Hardware and Stationery


16 ____________________

Killed while working in a mine

October fifth nineteen hundred and nine.

This loss of life caused awful strife

for fatherless children, husbandless wife.

A dreadful toll on those left behind,

their struggles we should keep in mind.



17 ____________________

Masons built me brick by brick

and meet within my walls.

With square and compass, letter G

and protocols of mystery,

to me all friends I call.



Hotel first, museum later

Moved to here when a coal mine cratered

Built ornate in Annie’s style

with tower, verandahs – quite the pile!

Housed miners gambling, drinking hard

Their meagre money risked by card

A cheater caught and killed by shot

his just deserts do you think he got?

Nugget in name, not worth as much

on a street which saw a ‘real’ gold rush.


19 ____________________

An ancient symbol, I.

Soiled by war, I stand for good

adorning a wall in the neighbourhood.

You’ll have to raise your head to see

for I look down from two storeys.



This is where you cross Roberts Street


20 ____________________

Dated now through flight of time

I was posted here in’69

The story of our Town I told

But now my message is so old

That a heritage piece you now behold.



Pagoda roofed, I sport a name

of creatures who have breath of flame.

My purpose is to bring in who’d

like to eat some eastern food.


22 ____________________

Built for Customs and for Post,

when the nearby harbour played the host

to ships that came from far and near

to tie along the massive pier.

The pier is gone; I’ve changed my task.

I now sell objects of the past.


23 ____________________

I huff and puff but do not move,

I winch with drum and cable.

The logs that recently were downed,

to gather I am able.



Hollowed out from cedar log

by those who’ve lived here ages,

I skirt along with paddle strokes

as I float upon the waves.


25 ____________________

A gun of sorts, but with a barb

to catch the whales for oil.

In Ladysmith I don’t belong

as Moby Dick was rarely in

the waters here, but I, from farther north

-Coal Harbour- used to sally forth.



A space half round

that’s filled with sound

sea and isles as background

to lifting music, roaring saws

crowd spellbound or with loud guffaws

as lumber jacks climb poles so tall

and clowns befool before they fall.



A journey’s start, a journey’s end

all VIA train on the E&N

they passed through me and bought a ticket

from my once busy, now silent, wicket.


28 ____________________

With windows red and walls of blue

originally of yellow hue

Built by company called Comox

I used to service trains and trucks

Recently I’ve had my base

made stronger with cement in place

so I’ll be used by local clubs

within the Arts & Heritage Hub.


29 ____________________

On rail I move with arm so high

that stretches upward to the sky

which swung out swiftly t’ward the car

with logs stacked neatly from afar

to push them off into the waves

to float for sorting for the blade.


30 ____________________

I’m huge, heavy and black,

clacked down the track

with smoke from my stack

tender and flat cars at my back

hauling timber from ‘the lakes’

so sawmills could their lumber make.



A little shed for those who bled

and through their work were injured.

Attended quick by skilled medic,

then whisked to where the doctors art

Could fully treat the injured part.



Now on the land, high and dry

A busy little craft was I

who plied the harbor pushing logs

so agile, twisting side to side

to sort them by their species, size.



I float, though I’m not a boat

no sail or engine here

I do not move ‘cept with the tide

I stay beside the pier.


A hub I am for maritime crews

a place where people pay their dues

for tethering while on their cruise

a place to meet, to talk and laugh

with other folks not on their craft.



Starts on BC Family Day Monday, Feb 15 and goes until Sunday,

Feb 28, 2021

Answer key, refreshments & goodies for participants at Ladysmith Community Marina and Ladysmith Museum on Sunday, Feb. 28 from 10 am to 4pm.

For info call 250-245-0423

Ladysmith Heritage Treasure Map

Supported by the Province of BC

Remembering Isabelle Ouelette

Life-member of the Ladysmith & District Historical Society (LDHS), Isabelle Ouelette worked tirelessly to capture the stories that brought history to life. If Isabelle didn’t know it, it likely was not worth knowing.

Ed Nicholson, another champion of history, spent many hours in the Archives, researching projects with Isabelle.

Here are some of his memories:

Isabelle Ouelette (centre) at book launch of The Gap.

If you have visited the Ladysmith Historical Society Archives (under Tim Horton’s) at any point in the past twenty years, you have probably met Isabelle Ouelette. That is because if the Archives were open, Isabelle was usually there, and once you met her, you are unlikely to forget the experience.

I first met Isabelle in the summer of 2009. My wife and I had retired from our ten years in China and decided to return to the town where my family had first settled in 1899. I had spent part of my childhood in Ladysmith and still had relatives here, so we bought a house in Sunny Saltair and set about getting reacquainted. I had always loved history and was anxious to explore my family roots, so joining the LDHS was a logical beginning. My first cousin, Ruth Weeks, was already a member, so she took me down to the Archives to meet Isabelle.

Isabelle and Ruth were old friends, and at first, Isabelle seemed quite pleased to meet another Nicholson — especially as my aunt Myrtle had been her favourite teacher in Grade 5. In fact, whenever Isabelle introduced me to long-term residents she would say, “This is Ed, one of our new volunteers. He’s Miss Nicholson’s nephew!”

At first, I was a little intimidated by Isabelle. Show up for your volunteer shift at 9:10 in the morning, and you would be greeted by “What took you so long?” or, if she was in a better mood, “Well, look what the cat dragged in!”

Isabelle Ouelette with former Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins at a ribbon cutting for The Ladysmith Archives

But once I got to know her, I discovered that was how she greeted most of the people she regarded as friends, and she had a lot of those! In fact, as long as you were there to volunteer or ask questions, you were most welcome at the Archives.

Isabelle not only knew a lot of people, she knew a lot about the town. She wasn’t one to flaunt her knowledge, but if you asked her a question about Ladysmith, she usually had an answer. And if she didn’t, she would pick up the telephone and call the person who did! I think her many years of working in the town as a telephone operator had given her a basic understanding of how the town was “networked.”

If, for example, you needed to know something about events happening in town, she would pick up the phone and call “Ann at the Rec Centre” or “Barb at the LRCA” or “Nita at Grant’s.” As a very last resort, she might say, “Well, you could always ask Rob Johnson. He always knows something, even if sometimes he gets it wrong!”

Isabelle also possessed an insatiable curiosity. The desire to find out something about the town’s history and then to make certain others learned about it as well resulted in her taking a leadership role in getting this knowledge into print. Isabelle was the major force behind the effort to produce two cookbooks containing family history, photos and the favourite recipes of more than 160 of the families that have contributed to our town’s success. She called, coerced and eventually collected the raw material for the two cookbooks and then convinced other society volunteers to help the families with the editing and assembly of their contributions. Although she was pleased to succeed in getting the two volumes published, I think she was even more pleased with the fact that nearly all of the stories were written or at least narrated by the family members themselves.

Isabelle also had a personal connection and deep respect with both the Métis culture and First Nations traditions. I met with Isabelle and many elders from the Stz’uminus people on a number of occasions while learning about their history. From Isabelle, I learned the importance of the choice of food offered in meals and meetings, as well as the role of simple gifts, like tobacco, to show my respect to honoured guests. Isabelle was deeply concerned about the survival of Stz’uminus history and the importance of helping our neighbours to tell their own stories.

Isabelle loved her TV shows, but she was also well-read. She didn’t consider herself a writer, but in publishing the story of the Gap, she made sure that the full story was told. I could never get her to write down her own stories despite her phenomenal memory, and it was like pulling teeth to get her to talk into a video camera, but I will never forget the summer afternoon when I talked her into taking me on a tour of the town. I would drive for a block and then pull over to the curb so I could write down the oral history pouring out of her memory banks. How I wish now I could have talked her into a second trip down First Avenue, with Marina Sacht recording it all from the back seat!

Isabelle, to use her way of saying it, was never one to “blow her own horn.” She also never “suffered fools gladly,” “had time for uppity people” or those who “never knew when to stop yappin’.” You were also not in her good books if you “screwed up,” “slacked off” or were someone who “was all talk and no action.”

I am sure that many of her own family could tell us about the inherent danger in “crossing swords with Grandma.” But I am equally certain that they had little difficulty seeing the warm and loving person just beneath the gruff exterior. The Isabelle I came to know had a huge heart and a wicked sense of humour, expressed with a raucous laugh and smile that could light up the darkest room. Isabelle could be cranky and stubborn, but put her in front of a group of primary students visiting the Archives with their teacher and she would melt before your eyes.

You know, I can imagine Isabelle reading this and telling me, “That’s a load of BS!” But I will use her own words to prove her wrong. Here is what she wrote in the preface to Cooking Up History Volume 2 in 2010: “At one time I could walk down First Avenue and recognize nearly everyone I met. Today, there are many new faces, and I do not always recognize the children and the grandchildren of my fellow residents, let alone the new arrivals. I have lived in Ladysmith for over seventy years, but despite the rapid growth in recent years, it has managed to retain many of the best qualities of small-town


Isabelle loved her hometown — and Ladysmith loved her back.

— Ed Nicholson

As Seen in TAKE 5/FEB 2021

LDHS President’s Report for period September-Year end 2020

Happy New Year!

Since holding our AGM in blazing sunshine outside the Museum in August the society has, like everyone else, continued to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions. Of course, this has affected the pace of activity (a bit like swimming in molasses), but things have been happening, as outlined below:


A reduced roster continues to work at the Archives behind closed doors servicing queries from the Town and public by phone or email. It is surprising how constant the stream of requests is! Topics range from locating past industries in relation to groundwater contamination to assisting with family histories.

Stalwart volunteers (where would we be without them!) are focused on organizing archival fonds, cataloguing photographs, database entry of tax assessment rolls, etc.  An inventory of computer software and hardware has been performed, with recommendations for replacements and additions. The work is not particularly glamorous, but very necessary and is much appreciated.

The Reading Room area has been busy managing book sales, which have been brisk over the holidays.

Museum – 1st Avenue

The Museum doors remain closed to the public, however, things have been happening within.  The ‘Prime Predators of Vancouver Island’ exhibit is shaping up nicely. Storyboards have been printed and all the animals are on-site; what remains to be done is the final setup of the display. Then we must await Covid conditions being suitable for opening.

The basement continues to suffer from groundwater seepage, this requiring regular visitations with a shop vacuum to suck it all up and a dehumidifier to keep conditions appropriate for the safety of the collections. The Town has been generous with the provision of the dehumidifier. Building repair has been discussed and is pending results of a  ‘Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) grant application (Unique Heritage Infrastructure Stream) submitted for repair/minor renovation of the museum building and purchase of a storage system for the artifact collection. The application was submitted by the LDHS in October, with letters of support from the Town, the Stzuminus First Nation and the Chamber of Commerce. We should hear in February whether we get any money. Fingers crossed everyone!

Discussions are ongoing regarding the potential for sharing space in the museum building with the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre. We believe this could be beneficial for all parties and are hopeful for a successful conclusion.

Museum – Oyster Bay Drive

The Industrial Heritage Preservation Group (IHPG) recommenced activity under appropriate Covid protocols in September but opted to shut down operations again when the Covid infection rate climbed in mid-October. None-the-less, significant progress was made on the restoration of the Box Car (roof catwalk reconstructed, metal parts rustproofed, wooden sides given another coat of paint), the Humdergin serviced and trackage in the vicinity of the Cable Shed was salvaged. We continue to suffer attempted break-ins – so a watchful eye is kept on the site.

Negotiations with the Museum of Port Alberni for the loan of the Plymouth 107 shunting engine are in their final stages. Hopefully, we can get the paperwork finalized in January.

The IHPG continues to work on a proposal for space in the Machine Shop as part of the Town’s Arts & Heritage Hub component of the Waterfront Development.

A joint ‘Ladysmith Harbor Heritage Committee’ was formed in September with the Ladysmith Maritime Society, the mandate of which is to showcase the heritage of the harbour area through the preservation and presentation of heritage aspects within context such that the public can gain an integrated understanding of the past, present and future of the area. A key role is to advise the Town on harbour heritage matters related to the Waterfront Development Plan and the Arts & Heritage Hub. Currently, the committee is composed of three representatives from each society, with the potential for the addition of representatives of other stakeholder groups)

In October this Committee submitted a CERIP grant application for preservation of the Comox Logging Locomotive Shed and Car Shop, with the LMS being the principal applicant, seconded by the LDHS. Both buildings are of significant heritage value, integral to the Arts & Heritage Hub and need some TLC. We should hear in February whether we get any money.

In December the LDHS nominated Q Goodbody and Shirley Blackstaff as potential representatives on a new Arts & Heritage Hub Design Steering Committee which will work with the newly announced architectural contractor to advise Council on project design of Development Phase 1 of the Arts & Heritage Hub – for which the Town was granted a  $3.3mm ICIP grant in June of this year.

Members of the IHPG are in discussion with the Corridor Foundation regarding an option on the use of the Train Station building, the idea being to ascertain interest within the LDHS and other non-profits in the Town regarding its use.

Barrie McDonald’s booklet “The Tyee Smelter; a core element of Ladysmith’s Industrial Heritage” was published and has generated a lot of interest.


During the past year, the Society has been focused on increasing communication with our members, the general public, with other local societies, and with the east-central  Vancouver Island heritage community. All this aimed at raising the society’s profile and raising recognition amongst the general public of the relevance of Heritage to the present and future.

Considerable effort has gone into the development of the website and Facebook pages.

Additionally, the society’s YouTube channel continues to grow with the recent addition of four new titles to the library of 36 videos with more coming monthly.

Historically Speaking Talks Series

Since August we have had four talks presented via Zoom and uploaded on the Society’s YouTube channel. These include my (Q Goodbody) three-part series on Climate Change: 1: History of Climate Change, 2:  Global Warming, Realities, Causes and Cures, and 3: Effects of Global Warming. The fourth talk was by Gary Allan on Wolves featuring the ecologic importance of wolves, and starring his wolf family Denali, Stqeye, Mahikan and Tundra.

Watch for these interesting upcoming talks. January 19th at 6:30 pm Erik Piikkila presents ‘Effects of Railroad Logging. Lessons from the past’. On March 18, Author Daryl Ashby and Historian Rob Johnson present ‘MDA King of Ladysmith, the Art Williams Story’. More talks will be announced shortly.

People and Place Neighbourhood Project:

Spearheaded by Lesley Moore, the report was completed in December and may be viewed, with an accompanying education kit, at the Reading Room when Covid permits. There is a lot of interesting information on the social structure of early Ladysmith.

Heritage Inventory Project:

Marina Sacht and Shirley Blackstaff have spearheaded this project which involved visiting all the Museums and Discovery Centres between Mill Bay and Nanaimo, talking with staff  to identify key synergies, risks and ways to work together for the common good. The Discovery Center in Duncan was visited in October. Two other local museums await visitation prior to completion of the final report.

“ONE Community’ Project:

It is early days with this project which has been greatly affected by Covid-19 restrictions. We have identified a moderator for the planned series of Workshops to bring various societies and cultural groups together to get to know each other and to explore synergies. The pace will pick up in January and a call for volunteers will be issued.

The Beat Goes On – Music in Ladysmith:

A meeting of interested persons was held which resulted in considerable brainstorming about what to include and how to present. A number of musician contributors have been approached and archival research is under way.  A draft story page was submitted to our Virtual Museum of Canada  which indicated that we are ‘on the right track’. More volunteers with enthusiasm and musical bent would be most welcome. Watch for online updates.

To wrap up:

Despite Covid-19 difficulties, the Society is active.

We continue to have concerns about:

  • Lack of clarity regarding long term plans for the Museum.
  • The need for a Museum Manager / Curator
  • Vanishing Heritage and the need for its protection.
  • The need to revise and expand the Community Heritage Register
  • Requirement for a review of the 2008 Heritage Strategy.
  • Requirement for a strategic approach to fundraising.
  • A shortage of volunteers – and demographics of the existing roster.

But we believe we are making progress.

  • Our membership is becoming more involved – with projects and especially on the Facebook page.
  • Our working relationship with the Town, the First Nations, and with other community groups continues to develop.
  • We have active communication within the regional and provincial heritage community
  • We have a super variety of projects for people to become involved in. Don’t feel you have to be an expert. Take the plunge and have fun participating!


Don’t forget – Membership renewal is now due. If you have not already done so, please renew online via the society website or arrange to visit the Archives to do so.

 The very best to you all for 2021.

Respectfully submitted by:

Q Goodbody

President LDHS

Extended deadline Jan. 23, 2021 Call for Nominations: Annual Heritage Awards

The Ladysmith & District Historical Society is calling for nominations from the community for the second Ladysmith Annual Heritage Awards.

The awards are to recognize the individuals, businesses and societies that have played a key role during this past year (2020) through their actions or initiatives toward preserving or promoting local heritage.

“These awards are a way to show appreciation of the role people or organizations play in preserving our heritage, to recognize how this heritage characterizes our community, and to emphasize the importance of this heritage to attracting visitors,”  says Quentin Goodbody, President of the LDHS.

There are two award categories: (i) Restoration of a heritage building, place or artifact, (ii) Commitment displayed by an individual or organization (society or business) to preserving and promoting local heritage.

Anyone can nominate, including nominating themselves, their business or their society. Nominations are requested either via email  or letter to info@ladysmithhistoricalsociety.comor Ladysmith & District Historical Society, Heritage Awards Nominations, P.O. Box 813, Ladysmith, B.C. V9G 1Y8.

Please detail the following information in your nomination:

Your name:




Name of Person/Organisation being nominated:

How did this individual or organization help to preserve and/or promote local heritage in Ladysmith and District?

The applications deadline has been extended to January 23, 2021

Award recipients will be announced during February’s BC Heritage Week.

WWII Questionnaire

We (LDHS) are writing a number of articles commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2.
The WW2 soldiers on the Cenotaph will be highlighted. Additionally, we would like to write an article to be about how the war affected Ladysmith and those living here – ie what it was like to live in the town during the war.
If you or someone you know was living in Ladysmith during the war, we have some questions for you but welcome your thoughts/comment if there is anything in particular which you would like to comment on which our questions do not address.
Depending on your preference, we could name you or we can keep it anonymous.
The important thing is that we get information on what it was like in Ladysmith and Vancouver Island / BC during the war.
At what age were you during WW2 (preTeen, teenage, twenties good enough).
How did you first hear that Canada was at war in 1939?
What was it like in Ladysmith during WW2? Was there a different atmosphere in the town before, during and after?
Was there a feeling of patriotism?
Did you feel that the war was ‘real’ and ‘immediate’ –  or was it ‘something going on ‘over there”.
Did your family talk about the war?
How did you catch up on war news – or did you not pay much attention to this?
Did you know people who went off to fight?
How did people contribute to the war effort?
We understand that the air cadets were a big thing in Ladysmith.
Did you know people in the cadets?
Do you know what their training was like?
Did any of them go off to war?
Did you and your family do things differently because of the war?
After Japan’s entry into the war, were you and others in the Town concerned about a Japanese invasion?
Can you remember what was done about staving off a potential Japanese invasion?
Were there goods that you could not get – and were there things that were in short supply?
What sort of celebration was there when the war ended?
Can you suggest other people we might interview about this subject?