It is BC Family Day Monday, Feb 21, 2022, and the Ladysmith Maritime Society and the Ladysmith & District Historical Society invite the community to celebrate at their Family Fun on the Waterfront event from 11 – 3 pm.
This event is supported by the Province of British Columbia.
Keeping COVID protocols in mind, most of the events are outdoors at the Ladysmith Community Marina and by the Industrial Heritage site located in the 600 block Oyster Bay Drive.
The heritage buildings complex, formerly part of Comox Logging & Railway Co. now includes the LMS Boat Shed where heritage vessels are restored. The LDHS Workshop is occupied by the impressive Steam Loci 11, along with other artifacts. You will get a chance to walk through the facilities and watch volunteers at work and ask them questions.
Just across from the site is the Ladysmith Community Marina. Come down to the docks and visit their floating museum and their heritage boat fleet on display. You’ll get a chance to warm up with some hot chocolate and see what you can discover with their underwater camera.
Don’t forget to stop at the Ladysmith Train Station before you head out. This building is in the process of being converted to a community space and this is your chance to share your ideas on its possible future. A used book sale by donation will be on the premises. So bring some loose change – it’s for a good cause!
This is a free event for all ages with slide shows, music, Snack Station, and a “Take Away” Activity table plus a free booklet based on Ladysmith’s waterfront heritage.
Remember afterwards to post your photos with #ladysmithheritage and share for a chance to win a prize! ladysmithhistoricalsociety.ca or lmsmarina.ca
During its December 2021 meeting, the Board of the Ladysmith & District Historical Society adopted the Heritage and Reconciliation Pledge.
Initiated by Heritage BC and created in 2021 in association with a group of culturally diverse advisors representing Indigenous and other cultural groups within British Columbia, the Heritage and Reconciliation Pledge aims to redress the fact that the heritage field in BC has its roots in western colonial systems of knowledge and practice and that these systems have been imposed on other cultures and peoples within our society to their detriment.
The Pledge acts as a guide to achieving new standards within the heritage sector for understanding cultural diversity, past harms done and the need for reconciliation and a new approach.
“By signing the Pledge, the Ladysmith & District Historical Society acknowledges Indigenous and culturally diverse peoples within our community and states its intent to establish and maintain respectful and welcoming relationships with these peoples” states Quentin Goodbody, LDHS president. “The Society commits to support and engage in public education and advocacy relating to cultural diversity, and to making reconciliation and cultural equity part of its strategic direction. Recognising that it has much to learn about the cultural diversity within our community, the Society will ensure that Indigenous peoples and cultural groups are involved in development of this understanding and in the formation of strategies and programs that the Society develops relating to these groups.”
Signed copies of the Heritage and Reconciliation Pledge are displayed in the Archives and Museum and are posted below.
As it is coming up to year-end, I thought you might like a brief update on what the Society has been doing these past 12 months. Quite a lot, as it happens:
A reduced roster of volunteers has continued working behind closed doors managing records, servicing queries from the public and conducting research on society contracts and historical subjects of their own choosing. Housekeeping on the electronic database and computing system has been ongoing. Oh – and we have been eating Esther’s baking…
It has been a particularly busy year at the Museum.
We opened the ‘Prime Predators of Vancouver Island’, feature exhibit on Family Day on February 15th and closed it on November 30th. It was very successful, despite Covid attracting over 1700 people…
A huge thank you to the volunteers that made this lovely exhibit possible, and to the Hand of Man and RBCM for the loan of the wolf and wolverine.
Currently, we have our “Magic of the Season” exhibit open sponsored by the Ladysmith & District Credit Union. Thanks to Carol Tysdal and the hardworking helpers who put this together. The Museum has been transformed. Lots of wonderment for kids – and adults too! Do drop by for an evening or weekend with your little ones. It closes on January 8th.
We are working on a new feature exhibit that will open in Spring 2022. More details are to be announced shortly. Additionally, we are currently upgrading existing permanent exhibits on the history of the Town and District.
People continue to donate items of local heritage interest to the Museum. Our Collections Committee is fairly busy and for this we are grateful. Please keep us in mind before tossing old photographs or items of local interest/provenance.
This year the upstairs gallery hosted three exhibitions.
‘Red Flag Red Flag’, a fibre arts exhibit on Climate Change. Thanks to Val Galvin for curating.
“Octopussy’s garden” – a collection of paintings by Juhli Shauer featuring west coast octopi.
“Ménage à Trois”– a collection of acrylic paintings, conceptual, mixed media and yard art by artist Lynda Phelan.
In addition to exhibits inside, we have also been working on the Museum Building itself.
During the past several winters volunteers had been battling a leaking roof and flooding in the north extension – due to lack of eavestroughs and poor perimeter drainage – this requiring shop-vacuuming water, sometimes several times a day, during rainy periods.
We applied for and were awarded CERIP (Community Emergency Recovery Infrastructure Program -Unique Heritage Infrastructure grant – of $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.
We have been working closely with the Town administration. Work done to date includes re-roofing of the extension on the north of the building where many artefacts are stored, installation of new eavestroughs and perimeter drainage, and a significant start made on internal renovations – Ken Brownlow and Sons contractor. Currently, we are receiving bids for electrical work.
We have a way to go yet on the internal renovations, which will principally include remodelling of the basement area and installation of a rolling artefact storage system. Right now things appear a bit chaotic, as we play musical chairs moving stuff around, but we are VERY excited about the changes and know that they will improve the usage of the building significantly – and our ability to look after our heritage artefacts.
Most important to note: There was no flooding during the recent deluges – so the repairs have fixed that problem – which is GREAT! Thank you Richard Frost and Kelly Giesbrecht for all your help.
Oh – we also recently had a break in the water line – completely unrelated to the work on the eavestroughs and perimeter drainage. This was repaired very quickly by the Town.
The Museum also held a very successful fundraising book sale in September. Again, many thanks to the volunteers for putting this together.
Historically Speaking talks
We continued with our Historically Speaking series and have held 8 talks so far this year, with over 4000 people taking them in.
We have another talk scheduled for December 14th at 7.00 pm. Catherine Gilbert will present ‘A journey back to Nature’ which will lead us through the fascinating history of Vancouver Island’s beloved Strathcona Provincial Park.
These talks are recorded and added to the LDHS YouTube channel. You can view them via our Website.
Industrial Heritage Preservation
The Industrial Heritage Preservation Group recommenced activities at the Comox railyard once all had received their vaccinations.
The loan agreement between the LDHS and the Museum of Port Alberni for the Plymouth 107 gasoline engine was finalized – thank you Shelly Harding for your efforts on the Port Alberni side. The engine was brought back to Ladysmith from Port Alberni in October. A huge thank you to Lyndon Harris and Boss Machinery of Parksville who donated the transport of the engine, and to Ken Fyfe of Coombs for assisting with the arrangements. We are extremely grateful to them for their generosity.
The engine is housed in a temporary shelter and work is currently ongoing on the engine – starter motor and carburetor rebuilds, etc. You may remember the dual reason behind bringing this engine to Ladysmith: not only did it work at the CL&RCo yard here in Ladysmith and thus is of direct local heritage interest, but also when repaired to running condition it will be used to shunt rolling stock around the trackage – including pulling Loci 11 in and out of her shed.
John and Myff Plecas very kindly donated two railway switch stands which the group have installed so that the railyard track is functional.
Work continues on Loci 11 – aiming at having her looking pretty and as complete as possible for her 100th anniversary in 2023. A committee has been formed to prepare a celebration to mark the event. The Humdergin also is being worked on – installation of a replacement radiator being the principal focus.
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 Society also celebrated BC Heritage Week by giving out 5 Ladysmith Heritage Awards in a very successful online ceremony attended by, amongst many others, our MP and MLA. Mayor Aaron Stone, Chief Roxanne Harris and Quentin Goodbody officiated. The online ceremony was recorded and attracted more than 2000 views.
Currently, the Society is inviting nominations for the 2022 awards. If you know of someone or something deserving of recognition, please consider contacting the society either by phone or email.
‘ONE Community’ Project:
Funded by a grant from The Heritage Legacy Fund of BC , this project is about getting to know each other within the heritage community on east central Vancouver Island, developing a mid-Island Heritage network, improving awareness and understanding of cultures within our community and developing Heritage Tourism.
Four Zoom workshops have been held. A website and interactive map of heritage assets are in development. Lots more work to be done!
The Beat Goes On – Music in Ladysmith:
This contract with the Virtual Museum of Canada focuses on telling the Town and District’s history through music of each era. Did you know that there was music composed to celebrate the relief of the siege of Ladysmith? Have you heard the strikers’ disparaging song about the militia sent in to restore order after the riots in 1913? How familiar are you with Robert and Dan Swanson’s logging poetry? These and other stories are coming together. We could do with additional volunteers. Musical bent would be very useful but is not a requirement. Send the Society an email or call to connect.
To wrap up:
Despite Covid, the Society is very active and in good shape. We could do with more members and volunteers. …..
The very best to you for the Season! Stay safe and healthy.
The Ladysmith & District Historical Society is calling for nominations from the community for the third annual Ladysmith Annual Heritage Awards.
The awards are to recognize the individuals, businesses and societies that have played a key role during this past year (2021) 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.
Applications are being accepted until January 15th 2022
Award recipients will be announced during February’s BC Heritage Week.
The federal government has announced September 30th as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In honouring the First Nations, we’d like to present a history of their canoe races across the decades from c1905 to 2021 There is also a photo of a canoe being built.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada was officially established on June 1 2008 with the purpose of documenting the history and lasting impacts of the Canadian Indian residential school system on Indigenous students and their families.
The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was named in a similar fashion to the commissions by the same name in Chile in 1990 and South Africa in 1996, but differed from those in that the Canadian TRC was not a federal or state-led initiative. It was developed as part of a 2006 legal settlement, the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, between various residential school survivor groups, the Assembly of First Nations, various Church bodies, and the Government of Canada. As such, the Canadian TRC had no powers of subpoena; no power to offer known perpetrators of abuse the possibility of amnesty in exchange for honest testimony about any abuses that may have been committed. Further, the commission could not explicitly “name names” or accuse individuals. Consequently, the Canadian commission heard primarily from former residential school students.
The inclusion of the term ‘Reconciliation’ in the commission’s name came under criticism of implying that there was once a harmonious relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples that is being restored. It was argued that such a
relationship may never have existed in Canada, the use of reconciliation thereby perpetuating such myth by continuing to deny “the existence of pre-contact Aboriginal sovereignty”.
The mandate of the TRC included hosting seven national reconciliation events across Canada, collecting all relevant archival documents relating to the residential schools from church and government bodies, collecting statements from survivors, and overseeing a commemoration fund to support community reconciliation events. The TRC’s mandate emphasized preserving and exposing the true history of residential schools.
After a series of community visits and regional events held by the Commission in our province during 2011-2012, the BC National Event was held in Vancouver September 19-21 2013.
Between 2008 and 2014 the TRC gathered what is estimated to be around 7000 testimonies from residential school survivors. These testimonies were gathered in both public and private settings such as community hearings, sharing circles, Commissioners Sharing Panels, etc. During the public testimonies, survivors detailed their experiences surrounding the residential schools. These regularly consisted of memories of being stripped of their language and culture as well as experiences of abuse, sexual assault and malnutrition.
In June 2015, the TRC released an executive summary of its findings along with 94 ‘Calls to Action” regarding reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples. Its six volume final report was released in December 2015 and can be viewed through the following link: https://nctr.ca/about/history-of-the-trc/trc-website/
The findings of the Commission have come under criticism by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons. It has been accused of ‘historicizing’ the effects of the residential schools and failing to recognize/address the ongoing nature and impact of colonialism. It has also been accused of indifference to robust evidence gathering, comparative or contextual data, and cause-effect relationships, resulting in the commission’s report telling a skewed and partial story.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation was established at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, as an archive to hold the research, documents, and testimony collected by the TRC during its operation. The NCTR opened to the public in November 2015 and holds more than five million documents relating to the legacy of residential schools in Canada.
Today, there are approximately 200,000 Indigenous people in British Columbia. They include First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
There are 198 distinct First Nations in B.C., each with their own unique traditions and history.
First Nations are grouped culturally and linguistically. The Coast Salish is a large, loose grouping of many nations with numerous distinct cultures and related Coast Salish languages.
The Stz’uminus First Nation is a Coast Salish people, speaking a Coast Salish language (Hul’qumi’num).
Territory claimed by Coast Salish peoples span from the northern limit of the Salish Sea on the inside of Vancouver Island and covers most of southern Vancouver Island, all of the Lower Mainland and most of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula (except for territories of the now-extinct Chemakum people).
Stz’uminus First Nation lands today constitute 1200 hectares on four separate reserves. Ladysmith residents are most familiar with two of them: Oyster Bay 12 where the Stz’uminus First Nation administrative offices and the commercial development of Oyster Bay Village are located, and Chemainus 13 – Thuqmin containing the communities of Kulleet Bay and Shell Beach and where the community hub comprised of a community centre, daycare, primary and secondary school and the Health and Elders centre is located.
For more information about the Stz’uminus First nation visit https://www.stzuminus.com/
There are 34 Indigenous languages in BC, divided into 7 language families.
There are 2 language isolates spoken in BC, Ktunaxa and X̱aad Kil (Haida) – these languages are completely unique and not related to any other language in the world.
The 34 Indigenous languages spoken in BC today represent 60% of all the Indigenous languages spoken in Canada.
BC’s indigenous linguistic diversity is related to terrain and the natural abundance of the land. The rough geography (huge mountains, distant islands, etc.) made it difficult to navigate across large swaths of land as compared to the prairies, so people tended to stay closer to home and develop distinct languages. Plus, there wasn’t a great need to travel because of the abundant sources of food found in BC’s ocean, rivers, and forests.
Each language is uniquely shaped by the land it comes from, and uniquely contains scientific, historical, and cultural information about those lands that is not held anywhere else.
All of BC’s Indigenous languages were oral languages with no writing systems before colonization. Today unique writing systems have been developed for each of the languages.
All of BC’s languages are critically endangered – each have less than 1000 fluent speakers, and about half have less than 50 speakers.
However, the number of semi-fluent speakers is increasing, indicating that language revitalization efforts are working.
The First Peoples’ Cultural Council has an awesome interactive language map of BC where you can find information on each of BC’s languages. Search https://maps.fpcc.ca/
Distribution of the 10 Salishan languages to which Hul’qumi’num belongs.
Modified from https://maps.fpcc.ca/
There were 18 Residential Schools in British Columbia, 4 on Vancouver Island.
The residential school closest to us in Ladysmith was the Kuper Island Residential School. (Kuper Island is now called Penelakut Island).
The Kuper Island Residential School on Penelakut Island near Chemainus, Vancouver Island, British Columbia opened in 1890 and operated to approximately 1975. It was run by the Roman Catholic Church although it was primarily funded by the Department of Indian Affairs. Its mission was to provide manual and domestic training for Indigenous children of the Cowichan Indian Agency and adjacent Coast Salish groups.
When the school officially opened in 1890, there were 17 boys in attendance, but the student population would number approximately 171 between 1890 and 1906. By 1920, 320 children had attended the school. The school was designed to be only for male students, but in 1891 12 females registered and the school continued to be co-educational.
Children who went to the residential school were isolated from their community, and frequently forcibly taken from their families. They were forbidden from speaking their language at the school, suffered neglect, were underfed, and often faced sexual, physical and mental abuse. Approximately a third of students died from tuberculosis. Students set fire to the school in 1896 when holidays were cancelled. A survey carried out in that year showed that of 264 former students 107 were dead. In one case, a student was whipped and placed in solitary confinement for taking apples. In the 1930’s, doctors undertook medical experiments on children. Several children drowned trying to escape by swimming across to Vancouver Island, or floating logs across the water, and another student committed suicide in 1966
The federal government took over the administration of the school in 1969 and closed it between 1975-1978; the building itself was demolished in the 1980s.
Examples of Kuper Island Residential School survivor testimony can be found in the report “The Survivors Speak: a report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada” (2015), and information sources about residential school history in British Columbia are being collated by the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia.
Created by Stz’uminus First Nations carver Luke Marston, this Bent Wood Box was commissioned in 2009 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. After years travelling around the country as the centrepiece of healing circles, collecting items from Residential School Survivors related to their personal journeys, and a time on display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the box now resides at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. The box is a powerful physical and visual symbol of the suffering inflicted upon Canada’s indigenous peoples.
Background to the box:
A 2017 University of Manitoba interview with Marston examined the meaning and significance of the Bentwood Box.
UM Today: What was your inspiration for the design of the Bentwood Box?
Marston: The inspiration for the healing box, or the TRC Bentwood Box, came from my family: my grandmother and my grandmother’s mother were in Residential Schools, both in Kuper Island [now Penelakut], so I drew inspiration from that. I also have other relatives – friends of the family, mentors, Elders – who were in Residential Schools who really helped me when I was making the Box, through guidance and things like that.
Then also, it had to have the representation of all the Nations across Canada, so not just where I’m from – the West Coast – but also the Woodlands First Nations and the more northern Inuit territories and the Métis people as well had to be represented on the Box. Looking within their culture, I found inspiration through their art forms as well.
UM Today: you tell me about the traditional steam Bentwood Box and the materials you used for this particular piece?
Marston: The steam Bentwood Box is a traditional form that was used down to Seattle and all the way up north into the Tsimshian territory. We use them for collecting and storing food and storing things like masks and blankets and anything for cooking. They would be water tight so you could put water in them then put rocks in them to boil food. They’re also used for holding medicine, which this particular one is.
The whole Box is made out of western red cedar. It’s old growth wood. We believe that when we cut down one of those old growth trees, or any tree, we give it a new life into something else. It’s still a living thing, it still has its own spirit, or its own soul, even when it’s just a piece of wood. So that’s why we believe our houses and stuff – like the cedar houses – are still living. We name our houses and our masks and things like that because all of those materials, that cedar, is a sacred thing to us, that’s why we use that traditional wood.
UM Today: Does the Bentwood Box represent the identity of Canada?
Marston: When I look at the Box, I definitely think that I captured the First Nations of Canada distinctly from each area. There are so many different nations within Canada that it would be impossible to get every one, but when you think about Woodlands First Nations – I definitely captured their style of art form. The medicine circle is distinctive to this area and then the Métis figure eight is an iconic symbol that everybody knows. The Bentwood Box itself is for sure a West Coast Box, it comes from there, and that style of carving is Coast Salish, representing the North-West coast carvers. Then the Inuit, the more northern people, are represented with the northern lights and the Inuit man with his parka over his head. As a whole, I feel like it is representative of the Canadian First Nations people for sure.
Then also, when you look at it you can see what it represents, as Canada, and as Canadians, and what Canada has decided to do by acknowledging the Residential Schools and what’s happened. I think that’s the biggest thing when you think about, “Does it encompass Canada?” It’s like, well yeah, this is what Canadians are about and this is what we’re doing – we’re taking responsibility for what’s happened.
UM Today: As Canada celebrates its 150th Birthday, how do you see the Bentwood Box playing into Canada’s future?
The thing with the Bentwood Box coming back here, I feel like it was a necessary move to have it still to be active. Having it safe in the [Canadian Museum for Human Rights] is one thing, but also to have it here, still being used by people and Survivors and knowing that they can come here – it’s something, you know. They say they collected 7,000 statements and they’re all in that Box, so you know if people want to come here and talk and still use the Box, I think that’s really necessary.
I don’t believe that the journey of the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada] is over, I don’t think that healing can be done that quickly – undo all this in five years – especially with the diversity of the people that were affected through the schools. I don’t really know what I see for the 150th for the Box, but I’m happy to see that it’s carrying on and still working and helping people to heal.”
In 2021 The Ladysmith & District Historical Society honored Luke Marston with a Ladysmith Heritage Award for his work in sharing the rich heritage, traditions, art, beauty and resilience of the Stz’uminus people within the Ladysmith Community, nationally and internationally.