Mayor W. W. Walkem

1922-1924 & 1934-1942

City Council 1934
Mayor Walkem (front, centre)

Wymond Wolverton Walkem was one of Ladysmith’s longest serving mayors serving first from 1922 to 1924 and again from 1934 to 1942 during the difficult depression and war years. He was born near the old Hastings Mill in what is now Vancouver on August 8, 1880 but came to the island as a young boy with his parents first to Northfield and later to Nanaimo where he received his elementary and high school education.

His parents were Dr. William Wymond Walkem and Edith (nee Moyle). Dr. Walkem is reported to have been the first medical doctor to practice in Hastings. On coming to the island he was the colliery doctor at East Wellington with duties extending to the Dunsmuir Collieries at South Wellington. Dr. Walkem was also at one time a member of the Legislative Assembly representing Nanaimo.

Wymond first worked for the Enterprise Printing Company at North Wellington before coming to Ladysmith with his brother Vyvyan in 1903 or 1904 where he worked for a number of years at the local office of the Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd.  In 1911 he established the real estate and insurance business which still carried his name after he disposed of it in 1946. It was one of the oldest businesses of its kind in the Upper Island. In 1915, Wymond accepted the position of Superintendent of the Ladysmith Water Company which he maintained until the Corporation of the City of Ladysmith acquired the utility in 1945.

In 1924 Wymond Walkem, after his first election as Mayor ran as a Liberal candidate for the Provincial Legislature in the Cowichan-Newcastle riding but was defeated by Sam Guthrie by 490 votes to 340. Walkem retired from the office of Mayor at the completion of his 1942 term in office.

Active in civic affairs, Wymond was a member of Harmony Lodge No. 6 I.O.O.F. for 40 years. He was a past grand of the Lodge and was elected Grand Master of the Golden Jubilee Anniversary session of the Grand Lodge of B.C. International Order of Foresters. He was also the first Chief Factor of Douglas Post No. 7, Native Sons of British Columbia, and was a member of the Port Alberni encampment, I.O.O.F. In the midst of the Depression, Walkem served as president of the 1936 Welfare Fund. The local relief office had 285 on the list from South Wellington, Cedar, Ladysmith, Blaineys and Saltair.

Wymond Wolverton Walkem died at the age of 66 on October 7, 1946 in the private ward pavilion of the Vancouver General Hospital and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. His wife Charlotte died in 1969 and is buried in Ladysmith.

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