The Ladysmith & District Historical Society’s 2023 AGM is scheduled for 12.00 noon Saturday, 30th September at the Museum 721 First Avenue, weather permitting outside with refreshments. COVID-19 protocols will be followed for additional assurances.
The agenda is as follows:
Welcome and determination of Quorum.
The Society invites you to attend the AGM and renew your individual, family, or corporate memberships should you have not yet done so. Nominations for the 2023-4 Board are requested per the attached bylaws. See the additional information at the base of this letter.
Volunteers for our many activities are always welcome.
Please note that you must have been a member of the Society for at least 21 days to be able to vote at the AGM.
Quentin Goodbody, President
Key things to note:
Sections 3.2, Section 4, and Section 7.2. of the Bylaws detail Board make-up, elections, and nomination of candidates for election.
Nominations for election to the Board must be provided to the Nomination Committee in compliance with By Laws Section 7.2. You can contact the Nomination Committee at the following email address and/or phone number:
To aid public discussion regarding concerns about risk of contamination of groundwater in the Cassidy area posed by ongoing industrial activity, TAKE 5 is presenting a two-part article on the Cassidy Aquifer issue written by Dr. Quentin Goodbody.
By Dr. Quentin Goodbody
In this first part of the Cassidy Aquifers article, we will take a closer look at what has happened to date and speculate about what regulatory activity may occur in the future. The purpose of this two-part article is to aid public discussion regarding concerns about risk of contamination of groundwater in the Cassidy area posed by ongoing industrial activity.
In 2011, Schnitzer Steel Canada took over its current site just south of Nanaimo Airport, where it conducts End of Life Vehicle (ELV) processing and other scrap metal recycling. In 2013, the company removed contaminated soil left from previous operators; the site had been used for auto wrecking and metal recycling since the 1950s, long before the introduction of land use zoning in 1987 through passage of CVRD Electoral Area H Zoning Bylaw No. 1020.
Though the site is now zoned I-1, which does not permit auto wrecking and metal recycling, the BC Local Government Act permits land uses that were lawful prior to the introduction of land use zonation to continue as a non-conforming use — providing there is not a six-month break in operations and the operations retain the same scale and scope as prior to the introduction of land use zonation.
In 2016, Schnitzer — on behalf of its landlord, Cassidy Sales and Service Ltd. — filed an application (No. 03-H-16RS (PID: 008-903-603)) with the CVRD for rezoning of the site to I-4 (Industrial Recycling), to accommodate auto recycling, metal recycling activities and exterior storage, which are not permitted under I-1 zoning.
Before and since that application, much concern has been expressed by the public regarding the scale and aesthetic impact of the recycling operations and the risk of contamination to the underlying aquifer that these operations pose.
Acceptance by both Schnitzer and the CVRD of the reality of risk to the aquifer is implicit in actions taken by both since the rezoning application was made. Schnitzer implemented measures to avoid ground contamination by storm runoff from its operations: extensive concrete slabs were installed to floor those areas where ELVs and non-ferrous metals are processed, with runoff from these slabs being directed towards catchment basins for treatment. Regular maintenance procedures were adopted to ensure the continuing functioning of this catchment system.
In 2017, discussions were initiated regarding a legal covenant aimed at mitigating the threat of groundwater contamination by enforcing such preventive measures.
In 2018, the CVRD drafted and gave first and second readings to bylaws 4194 and 4195 to accommodate rezoning of the Schnitzer site from I-1 to I-4, with allowance for ELV processing and metal recycling.
Meanwhile, discussions on the covenant continued: In 2021, as a pre-requisite step to re-zoning and to holding a Public Information Meeting regarding the rezoning application, the CVRD presented a draft of the covenant for adoption with wording to ensure that so long as scrap metal and ELVs are collected, stored and dismantled on the Cassidy site, specific measures were in place to protect the sensitive underlying aquifer, including hard surfacing, drainage collection and oil separators, and mandatory monitoring well test reports.
After much consultation, on May 3, 2023, the CVRD Electoral Area Services Committee (EASC) was advised that the applicants were in agreement with the wording of the covenant. At that same meeting, the EASC voted to recommend to the CVRD Board that the re-zoning application be denied. Citing uncertainty regarding implications stemming from rejection of the rezoning application, EASC also voted that staff consult with legal counsel on any potential technical issues regarding the denial of the application and report back prior to the May 10, 2023, CVRD Board meeting.
At the May 10, 2023, CVRD Board meeting, the Board reported on a motion adopted in closed discussion that a Public Information Meeting regarding the application be held in June 2023 in accordance with CVRD Development Application Procedures Bylaw 2022, given that the applicants had agreed to the proposed covenant. CVRD staff were also asked to provide the Electoral Area Services Committee with a report summarizing the questions and comments recorded at the upcoming Public Information Meeting as well as provide complete documentation regarding the application.
The Public Information Meeting was held June 19, 2023, in the Aggie Hall, Ladysmith. Ninety-seven members of the public attended, along with extensive representation from the CVRD. Presentations were made by both the CVRD and Schnitzer regarding the rezoning application. A large number of questions from the public were addressed by the CVRD and Schnitzer. A report on this meeting has since been provided by CVRD staff to the CVRD Electoral Area Services Committee. What remains to happen now is a CVRD Board ruling on the rezoning application.
In addition to the above activities, in June 2022, a civil lawsuit was initiated against Schnitzer alleging violations of CVRD land use zoning bylaws and against the CVRD alleging failure to enforce its own land use bylaws.
What’s Happening Now
Schnitzer Steel continues its operations located on top of the Cassidy high vulnerability Aquifer 161 and also continues to take steps to avoid ground water contamination from these operations. Regular maintenance of catchment systems for runoff from concrete pads flooring ELV processing and metal recycling areas is performed to ensure their proper function. Water from five wells on the property are monitored regularly to determine if ground water contamination is occurring.
The CVRD informs that there is no anticipated timeline for moving forward towards a decision on the rezoning application. Interaction with the Regional District of Nanaimo, Island Health and relevant sections of the BC Provincial Government will likely occur prior to a final decision by the CVRD Board.
Monitoring of surface water quality in a stream nearby Schnitzer’s property (Thomas Creek) is ongoing. The CVRD’s intent is to establish a network of monitoring stations throughout the region; however, staffing shortages are hampering progress on development of CVRD “in-house” best practices for groundwater management.
Speculation on What May Happen
Schnitzer theoretically could withdraw their rezoning application, trusting that their current operations be determined legal non-conforming. Such would allow for continuation of their activities.
If the CVRD Board approves the rezoning application, absent of any legal directive to the contrary, the current scope and scale of Schnitzer’s existing operations could continue with the company adhering to the terms of the covenant.
Denial of the rezoning application by the CVRD Board would probably trigger an assessment of whether Schnitzer’s current operations are legal non-conforming or not. If they are considered legal non-conforming, then Schnitzer could continue with the scale and scope of its current operations. If they are not, then proceedings relating to land use violations would likely commence; options facing Schnitzer in this scenario would appear to be to either scale back to that level of legal non-conforming activity permitted by the Local Government Act, or move their operations to another suitably zoned location. Given the scale of their investment in the Cassidy property, this appears something the company would be reluctant to do.
Any continuation of Schnitzer’s activities at Cassidy will not satisfy those who feel that the siting of industrial activities considered to pose a contamination risk on top of an important high vulnerability surface aquifer is inappropriate. Focus would turn towards the ongoing civil suit.
Cassidy Aquifers, how they formed and how they work Part 2
Cassidy Aquifers 101
All our fresh water ultimately comes from rainfall. If we do not collect rainwater directly from our roofs, we access fresh water in one of two ways:
The simplest way of getting water is by drawing or pumping it directly from a nearby lake, river, stream or spring. The Town of Ladysmith, Diamond Improvement District, Stz’uminus First Nation and Saltair all draw water from two stream-fed artificial lakes (reservoirs) in the hills west of Ladysmith – Holland Lake and Stocking Lake. A lot of money has recently been spent on filtration systems to ensure that the water from these reservoirs is clean enough for domestic consumption.
However, if you live in the surrounding district, chances are that you do not have a body of surface water from which you can draw, nor do you have access to a municipal water system. Instead, you have to go looking for water in the ground – in other words, you must find an aquifer. When you find one, you want the water you take from it to be uncontaminated so you can use it in your home: there are all sorts of protocols associated with water well completion to ensure this.
Aquifers are not underground rivers or water-filled caverns. They consist of rock or unconsolidated sediment such as gravels and sands which hold water in spaces between the mineral grains making up the rock or sediment. These often tiny spaces are collectively called Porosity, which typically makes up 10-20% of the bulk volume of a rock aquifer, but can be more than 30% in unconsolidated sediments.
Just holding the water in the pore spaces is not enough for an aquifer to be useful. The water must be able to move through the rock or sediment so we can get it out. This property is called Permeability. The degree of permeability depends on the level of connectedness between the pores in the rock or sediment (Figure 1).
The more porosity and permeability there is, the faster water can move through the medium, and the higher the rate water can be sustainably produced from a well dug or drilled into it.
For an aquifer to provide a stable supply for water, the rate of natural fresh water recharge to the aquifer must equal or exceed the rate of water withdrawal from pumping wells. If this is not the case, the water level in the aquifer will go down and wells may become dry because they are not deep enough to encounter the modified (deeper) groundwater level.
Geology of the Cassidy Area Aquifers
Geology refers to the rocks and unconsolidated sediments that make up the ground we walk on.
The geology of the Cassidy area has been determined by mapping the rocks and sediments at ground surface and getting an idea of the subsurface set-up through examination of the logs of over 2000 water wells drilled in the area. Several aquifers have been recognised in the Cassidy area which are currently being used for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes. The following description of the geology and the aquifers comes from a number of scientific reports that can be found online (references can be provided on request to the author).
There are two types of aquifers in the Cassidy area: 1/. Bedrock – composed of 80 million year old Cretaceous sandstones which have low to moderate porosity and permeability from which wells generally produce water at low rates. 2/. 12000-14000 year old unconsolidated sands and gravels lying on top of the Cretaceous bedrock which are much more porous and permeable and from which water can be produced at higher rates.
Whereas the ground surface in the vicinity of Cassidy and The Nanaimo Airport is essentially flat today (Figure 2), geological mapping of the top of the Cretaceous bedrock reveals a valley system which was eroded into it during and just after the last glacial period about 14,000 years ago.
This ‘fossil’ valley system extends from Ladysmith Harbour north toward where the Nanaimo River now flows to its estuary in Nanaimo Harbour (Figure 3).
Glacially fed streams filled this ‘fossil’ valley system with unconsolidated sediment. There is a distinct layering (stratigraphy, in geologic terms) to this valley fill (Figure 4).
The aerial distribution of each layer (stratigraphic unit) is shown in Figure 5.
Unit 1, the oldest and deepest part of the unconsolidated valley fill, consists of densely packed sands and gravels with moderate porosity and permeability. These are distributed only locally in the deepest portion of the fossil valley and lie directly on Cretaceous bedrock.
Unit 2, distributed over the entire valley system, consists of impermeable claystones deposited some 12000 years ago when sea level was about 150 meters higher than present.
Unit 3, distributed over much of the buried valley system, consists of loosely packed highly porous and permeable sands and gravels. These are exposed at ground surface except for a small area north and west of the airport.
The impermeable clay-rich Unit 4 is ground surface to a small area underneath and west of the airport. It locally forms a barrier to surface water movement into the underlying sands and gravels of Unit 3.
Hydrogeology of the Cassidy aquifers
Hydrogeology refers to the movement of water within rocks and sediments.
The Cassidy area lies within the watershed of the Nanaimo River, which includes the Nanaimo River and its major tributaries such as Haslam Creek (Figure 6).
The majority of the watershed lies within the Nanaimo Regional District (NRD); the southernmost part of the watershed, including part of the Cassidy area, lies within the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD).
Analysis of groundwater levels in observation wells provides some understanding of how water flows into and out of the various geologic units.
The Cretaceous bedrock of the area is an important aquifer to those living outside of the distribution of the fossil valley-fill sediments. The BC Provincial Aquifer database recognises two bedrock aquifers, numbered 162 and 964; the boundary between the two is roughly along a line continuing northwest parallel to the north shore of Ladysmith Harbour with 964 being west of this line and 162 east of it. Groundwater recharge for both aquifers is direct from rain, but due to the bedrock’s limited permeability and porosity it appears to be slow and care has to be taken not to over-produce from wells and running them dry. Fractures associated with faults in the bedrock appear to be an important factor in locally higher well production rates.
The water-bearing densely packed sands and gravels with moderate porosity and permeability of Valley-fill Unit 1 are numbered Aquifer 160 in the B.C. Provincial Aquifer database. There are relatively few well penetrations because it underlies a shallower good aquifer (Unit 3). Recharge occurs after a week’s lag following rainfall which indicates groundwater flows into it either from the underlying bedrock or via a slight connection to the overlying aquifer Unit 3. Aquifer 160 is termed a ‘confined’ aquifer due to its not being exposed at ground surface and because it is everywhere overlain by the impermeable claystone Unit 2. Only a few wells produce from aquifer 160; their low volume of production appears to have minimal effect as observation wells appear stable over time, the most recent data reviewed being from 2016.
The clay-rich ‘tight’ (ie non porous and impermeable) Unit 2 acts as a barrier to groundwater movement between Units 1 and 3 and is scientifically termed an ‘aquitard’.
Valley-fill Unit 3, numbered Aquifer 161 in the B.C. Provincial Aquifer database, is the most important aquifer in the area. Its high porosity and permeability sands and gravels provide good well flow rates. This aquifer is termed ‘unconfined’ due to its being exposed at the ground surface. While groundwater recharge is mainly direct from rainfall in the watershed, local recharge from streams has prompted its division into two connected aquifers (Figure 5iii) – Cassidy Aquifer 1 to the south which is locally recharged by Haslam Creek, and Cassidy Aquifer 2 in the north which is strongly influenced by the Nanaimo River. The strong recharge in the north from the Nanaimo River facilitates bulk water extraction for industrial purposes by Harmac. Data suggests that groundwater pumping significantly affects water levels in Aquifer 161. Proximity to recharge sources, such as the Nanaimo River, locally allows for a stable high rate extraction, but more work with up to date information for the southern Cassidy Aquifer 1 (most recent data seen by the author dates from 2016) is required for determination of how much water can be taken from this aquifer without long term decline in groundwater water levels occurring.
Except where locally overlain by the impermeable clay-rich Unit 4, the sands and gravels of Unit 3/Aquifer 161 are exposed at ground surface beneath a variable soil cover.
The regional map of groundwater elevations in wells in Aquifer 161 (Figure 7) indicates that, on average, groundwater flows from the uplands west of Cassidy and diverges from the central Cassidy area, northeastward towards the Nanaimo River and estuary, and southeastward toward Ladysmith Harbour. However, this regional picture may be locally modified by production from water wells – as extraction of water from a well reduces the pressure around that wellbore and prompts groundwater movement toward it. This can cause local ground water movement against the regional flow.
More detailed analysis of many wells in the area is required to determine whether this aquifer is being over-taxed by the current level of withdrawal from wells or not, and how surface contamination might travel within the aquifer.
Aquifer Vulnerability and Industrial Activity
Increased land development pressures in the early 2000s, coupled with industrial and agricultural land use activities that were considered to potentially threaten the quality of ground and surface water, prompted the CVRD to participate in a multi-year study which focussed on assessing the relative vulnerability of groundwater resources to surface contamination on Vancouver Island. This study was conducted jointly by the BC Ministry of Environment, Vancouver Island University, Natural Resources Canada, The Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Regional Districts on Vancouver Island. A rating system, called by the acronym ‘DRASTIC’ (relating to seven significant factors taken into account) was devised; each recognised aquifer was assigned a vulnerability rating of either Low, Moderate or High. A vulnerability map for surface aquifers on Vancouver Island was produced that shows high vulnerability in the Cassidy area (Figure 8).
Of the Cassidy area aquifers:
Cretaceous bedrock aquifer 162 which outcrops over a wide area was considered of High Vulnerability to surface contamination entering via exposed high permeability fractures.
Although also recognised as possessing highly permeable fractured zones, Bedrock Aquifer 964 was rated of Moderate Vulnerability as it only locally outcrops at surface.
The unconsolidated confined Aquifer 160 (valley-fill Unit 1) is considered to have Low Vulnerability to contamination from surface sources as it does not outcrop at surface and is everywhere overlain by the aquitard Unit 2.
Aquifer 161 (valley-fill Unit 3), the porous and permeable sands and gravels of which are at ground surface over much of the Cassidy area, is considered of High Vulnerability to surface contamination.
The quoted vulnerability study also provided an example of appropriate hydrogeological assessment for development permit applications situated on various aquifer types. If Schnitzer’s Cassidy activities, which are located on top of High Vulnerability Aquifer 161, are considered as a commercial ‘junk yard’ and of moderate hazard for surface contamination, the following were deemed required for assessment of an application to conduct these activities at that location:
a detailed groundwater site investigation including an ongoing monitoring program
specifics of the potential contaminants (toxicity, quantity, transport behaviour),
details on the protection design factors (natural attenuation, physical barriers, etc.)
A detailed emergency response plan
An assessment of the financial capacity of the responsible party to enact the plan.
However, if Schnitzer’s activities are considered as an industrial activity posing a high risk of surface contamination to the aquifer, the possibility of complete prohibition of those activities is cited.
What the Neighbours Think
The southern portion of Aquifer 161 straddles the boundary between the regional districts of Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley, with Schnitzer’s activities being located immediately adjacent to the boundary on the CVRD side. Given the high permeability of Aquifer 161 and its deemed High Vulnerability to surface contaminants, it seems reasonable to assume that the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is interested in what the CVRD decides regarding Schnitzer’s rezoning application. ‘Actions and Best Practices’ cited from a 2010 RDN “Groundwater Assessment and Vulnerability Study” by GW Solutions Inc. indicates that industrial activities in a high vulnerability aquifer zone are not recommended and that auto-wreck yards are not allowed in such zones.
Thank you to Dr. Quentin Goodbody for this explanation of how aquifers work.
Information Sources for Cassidy Aquifers
Barroso, S., R. Ormond, and P. Lapcevic (2016). Groundwater quality survey of aquifers in South Wellington, Cassidy and North Oyster, Vancouver Island. Prov. B.C., Victoria B.C., Water Science Series 2016‐05.
CVRD April 11th 2018: CVRD Bylaw No. 4194 – Electoral Area H – North Oyster/Diamond Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw (13271 Simpson Road), 2018.
CVRD April 11th 2018: CVRD Bylaw No. 4195 – Electoral Area H – North Oyster/Diamond Zoning Amendment Bylaw (13271 Simpson Road), 2018
CVRD: May 3rd 2023: Staff Report to Electoral Area Services Committee Meeting from Community Planning Division, Land Use Services Department re: Application No. 03-H-16 S (PID. 008-903-603/Schnitzer Steel) plus attachment A: Draft Covenant and Schnitzer Steel Canada Ltd. Cassidy Facility Stormwater Maintenance Plan for Equipment maintenance and ELV Concrete Slab.
CVRD: May 3rd 2023: Electoral Area Services Committee Meeting Agenda and Minutes
CVRD: May 10th 2023: Minutes of the Regular meeting of the Board of the Cowichan Valley Regional District held in the Board Room, located at 175 Ingram Street, Duncan BC, on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at 1:32 PM.
CVRD: July 19th 2023: Agenda of The Electoral Area Services Committee Meeting of July 19th 2023: Item 7: Information: Public Meeting Minutes Re: Application No. 03-H-16RS (Schnitzer Steel) – June 19, 2023.
Government of British Columbia: Ground Water Wells and Aquifers
GW Solutions Inc. August 2017. STATE OF OUR AQUIFERS. Regional District of Nanaimo Aquifer 160. Report prepared for The Regional District of Nanaimo
GW Solutions Inc. August 2017. STATE OF OUR AQUIFERS. Regional District of Nanaimo Aquifer 161. Report prepared for The Regional District of Nanaimo
Liggett, J., Gilchrist, A. 2010: Technical Summary of Intrinsic Vulnerability Mapping Methods in the Regional Districts of Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley, Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 6168, 64 p.
Liggett, J., Lapcevik, P., Miller, K. 2011. A Guide to the Use of Intrinsic Aquifer Vulnerability Mapping. Report to the CVRD on the work of the Vancouver Island Water Resources Vulnerability Mapping Project., 60 p.
Thurber Engineering Ltd: 2007. City of Nanaimo Engineering & Public Works Department Cassidy Aquifer Water Balance Study Completion Report.
Town of Ladysmith 2023: https://www.ladysmith.ca/sustainability-green-living/sustainability-program/watershed-protection
Waterline Resources Inc. 2013: Phase 1 Water Budget Project: RDN Phase 1 (Vancouver Island) submitted to the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Technical Advisory Committee pages 160-190: Water Region # 6 – Nanaimo River.
Celebrate 100 years of Steam Locomotive 11. Trundle on down to Ladysmith’s Historic Rail Yard, 614 Oyster Bay Dr. See newly restored Locomotives back on tracks. Enjoy Live Music by Local Musicians, Heritage Displays, Food, “Smokies for the Locie”, Poetry, Stories, Art, Videos, Hands-on Activities, Model Trains, Competitions and Treats.
Celebrating 100 years of 1923 Locomotive 11 – May 27, 2023
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF LOCOMOTIVE 11?
Ladysmith’s steam Locomotive #11 was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Company, Philadelphia, USA. It weighs approximately 144,000 lbs. In 1937 Locomotive #11 came to Comox Logging & Railway Company.
In 1945 she was moved from the Courtenay operation to Ladysmith then worked full-time hauling logs from Nanaimo Lakes to the Ladysmith Log Dump. While working for Comox Logging & Railway Company, Locomotive #11 hauled 1.4 billion board feet of logs, making Ladysmith the centre of the logging industry on Vancouver Island. On December 16, 1960, Locomotive #11 made her last official run. She was put on standby service when the Baldwin switcher No. 7138 diesel locomotive took her place.
WHY PRESERVE LADYSMITH’S HERITAGE?
Ladysmith & District Historical Society’s Industrial Heritage Preservation volunteers have for 7 years been bringing the past to life by working with our community to proudly preserve Ladysmith’s forest industry buildings, locomotives, rail yard and artifacts in a way that our history becomes a “must see” part of the Arts & Heritage Hub.
We have received firsthand accounts from local seniors/elders who worked in the forest industry to give insight into their jobs, experiences and community contributions.
WHY IS OUR COMMUNITY CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF LADYSMITH’S 1923 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE #11 with a FOREST FESTIVAL?
To understand the heritage significance of the Comox Logging & Railway Company Machine Shop Buildings and Rail yard and acknowledge it as
a rare, intact remnant of Ladysmith’s industrial logging past and
a tangible reminder of the key role Comox Logging & Railway Company played in the resuscitation of Ladysmith’s economy which was suffering from the effects of the Depression and closure of the coal mines in 1931.
To respect the early-day forest industry workers who contributed significantly to Ladysmith’s social and economic growth.
To share the stories and photographs sent to us from the families of local forest workers. The booklet Ladysmith’s Forest Workers Share their Tales which we compiled, will honour Ladysmith’s forest workers by sharing their roles and experiences. It will be a gift to our main contributors and special guests at the May 27, 2023 – 100th Anniversary of Locomotive #11 Celebration Event, Ladysmith Forest Festival.
To have souvenir mugs, booklets, and other items available at a minimal cost
To share Locomotive #11’s history with a slide show presentation
To show the restored Plymouth #107 gas locomotive and Humdirgen running on the tracks
To present displays, framed photos and information about Locomotive #11 and the other rolling stock
To honour and thank our dedicated volunteers who have given their time and expertise to refurbish Locomotive #11 professionally, Plymouth #107 and the other industrial artifacts
To acknowledge the many hours volunteers have given: researching, collecting information and photographs, writing booklets and video-taping our history
To thank the Town of Ladysmith for its support
To acknowledge donors who assisted with restoration work and Forest Festival activities
To entertain visitors with local musicians and artists
To provide food and refreshments
To have a garden scale model train set up running around a track and involve families in heritage activities and games.
To have crafts for the children where they will create hands-on projects to take home
To acknowledge the rich Stz’uminus First Nation culture concerning the forest and learn about Ladysmith’s forest heritage with a positive community spirit.
To recognize the importance of the forest and forest industry to our communities by a visit to the Ladysmith Museum on 1st Ave to see the new spring exhibit – “Our Treemendous Fascinating Forest” and to attend and participate in the Ladysmith Forest Festival at 614 Oyster Bay Drive on May 27, 2023.
WHAT ELSE WILL BE HAPPENING AT THE WATERFRONT THE WEEKEND OF MAY 27 – 28th?
Our evening event on Saturday, May 27th, from 5 pm to 7 pm will be a Sea Food BBQ at the Ladysmith Community Marina’s big tent. Our volunteers and guests will join together to enjoy food, music and the company of one another, completing a memorable day – full of fun and appreciation of our local heritage.
Ladysmith Maritime Society is celebrating 125 years of BC’s oldest registered Sailing Ship, “Dorothy,” and having a Heritage Boat Festival at the Ladysmith Community Marina on Sunday, May 28, 2023, from 8 am to 3 pm. Be sure to take in this event too!
MAY I HELP? You may help with the organization of Ladysmith Forest Festival or be a volunteer on May 27, 2023. We need volunteers, so please let us know if you are available.
Contact: Shirley Blackstaff, Event Coordinator, at 250-245-3075 and firstname.lastname@example.org
As it is coming up to another year’s end, I thought you might like an account of what the Society has been doing these past 12 months. Quite a lot! Here is a quick update given per area of LDHS activity – with photos at the end to illustrate what has been going on.
Stalwart volunteers continued working diligently behind closed doors managing records, servicing queries from municipalities and the public, and conducting research on society contracts and historical subjects of their own choosing. Housekeeping on the electronic archival database has progressed significantly, and maintenance/upgrading of the computing system is ongoing – principal thanks to John Sharp and Christine Meutzner for this. Dogwood Dan continues enthralling us with heritage posts on Facebook. Ann Rogers is now assisting Christine Meutzner with archival work and the backlog is being reduced.
Funded by a grant from The Heritage Legacy Fund of BC, the ONE Community 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 of the multiple cultures within our community, and developing Heritage Tourism. In 2021 a series of workshops with stakeholders were held and a start was made. This year a website featuring an interactive map of heritage features and attractions was launched – it largely remains to be populated: check it out at https://www.heritagenetwork.ca/
The Beat Goes On – Music in Ladysmith contract with the Virtual Museum of Canada focuses on chronicling the Town and District’s history, relating incidents and situations to the music of the era. The research has been done and 20 story pages have been written, these accompanied by copious photographs and some very interesting soundbites. Local musicians have donated time and expertise to provide renderings of songs and scores. We are currently working with the Stz’uminus First Nation to ensure the appropriate inclusion of their stories. The next step is proofreading by our Digital Museum of Canada’s manager’ prior to translation into French. The aim is to have the project wrapped up and online in 2023.
Significant renovations of the Museum, funded by an $89,000 provincial CERIP grant – gratefully acknowledged – are drawing to completion (meaning we have just about spent the money). Check out the accompanying diagrams and photos to get an idea of the extensive repairs, changes and improvements made to the building. Thanks to Ken Brownlow & Sons and to Josh Electrical for their contract work – and for giving us more than value for our money… and also to Richard Frost, Kelly Giesbrecht and other folks from the Town who assisted.
Detailing activities from top to bottom in the building: The attic area awaits installation of a new floor – already purchased and to be laid in January. Half the attic space continues to house shows by local artists and functions as an extension of our new Museum Shop on the main level. The other half of the attic is used as an office for museum staff.
On the Main Floor: spearheaded by Carol Tysdal with much able assistance by Brenda Birch, we have a fabulous Museum Shop which features stunning works by local artists and artisans, and items and books of local heritage interest. Check it out! Super stuff for Christmas at great prices – and by buying here you support local artisans and Society.
Currently, the “Magic of the Season Chapter 2” exhibit is open. Thanks to funding from the Ladysmith & District Credit Union, the tireless Carol Tysdale (how much energy does that lady have!!!), Brenda Birch, Lesley Moore, and all the other hardworking volunteers, the Museum has again been transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Lots for small kids – and adults too! Do drop by on an evening or weekend with your little ones. If you can’t make it – enjoy the photos with this report. We are working on a new feature exhibit called ‘Treemendous – Our Fabulous Forest’ which will open in Spring 2023. With generous financial support from Western Forest Products, this exhibit provides insight into the natural history and ecology of the forest that surrounds us, how we interact with it, and how we can protect it. The research has been done; we are now designing the exhibit. Meanwhile, we continue work on upgrading the permanent exhibits on the history of the Town and District.
In the Basement: we are happy to continue receiving donated items of local heritage. Our Collections Committee, headed by Curator Lesley Moore, is busy and for this we are grateful. Please keep us in mind before tossing old photographs or items of local interest/provenance. The recently installed mobile shelving is proving its utility. The newly renovated activities area has been used as space for upstairs exhibit preparation, the venue for a very successful quilting workshop run by Val Galvin, several Tea and Tales, and a book launch talk by Daryl Ashby. We look forward to using our green screen for producing videos about local heritage. Our meeting room is available for rentals.
Industrial Heritage Preservation
A core roster of 12 volunteers continued Saturday morning work parties at the Comox Logging & Railway Co. yard on Oyster Bay Drive. The overall aim is to preserve this heritage site and associated industrial artifacts as part of the Arts & Heritage Hub within the Waterfront Development Plan – such that it records and illustrates the importance of the coal and logging industries and their associated technologies to the history of Ladysmith & District.
The work done by the Industrial Heritage Preservation Group this year is described by item:
Locomotive #11: This massive, iconic steam engine hauled logs from Nanaimo Lakes to the log dump at Ladysmith Harbour from 1943-1960. Unfortunately, due to being left outside for several decades after the Railway Society ceased operations in 1990 in the midst of a refit, Loci 11 suffered exposure to the elements and is missing tubing, gauges, controls etc. The aim is to restore this engine to museum exhibit quality. After thorough descaling and rustproofing performed in past years, a lot of research has looked into the original configuration of the locomotive. This year was spent sourcing tubing, valves, etc. and a start was made on replacing the missing parts, a lot of which are still missing – Does anyone know of any Loci 11 parts in their basement or garage? If so, we would love to hear from you!
The Maritime Society is kindly assisting with rebuilding the wooden framing for cab windows and doors.
2023 marks 100 years since this loci, specially designed for logging, was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia: we are planning a big birthday bash in May 2023 to which all are invited – keep an eye out for more information!
Plymouth Locomotive #107: This 1927 gasoline shunting locomotive worked in the Comox Yard in Ladysmith and was disbursed to Port Alberni in the early 1990s. Since its return on loan from there late last year, we have been coaxing it toward operability. We are nearly there! After a lot of work, the engine now runs nicely: broken bolts connecting the engine to gear box and chain drive have been drilled out and replaced; the air compressor and brakes work. Rotten wooden cab sheeting has been replaced and the locomotive readied for painting in the spring – Crown Zellerbach colors. One thing we are missing which is critical for operation is the brass bell…. We are trying to borrow one… ?got one lying around?
Humdirgen: The aim is to preserve this unique hybrid engine such that it illustrates the local ingenuity involved in building it to serve its key function of unloading logs brought from Nanaimo Lakes to the log dump in Ladysmith Harbour.
This year, after performing some repairs (rebuilding the starter, replacing the radiator, modifying the fuel tank, welding cracks in the undercarriage), our main focus has been painting both the inside and outside. This was made easier thanks to the loan of a cherry-picker from FMI. Now this unique and important piece of local industrial history sports its original yellow body and black undercarriage. Next spring, stencilled lettering will be added.
Box Car: The aim is to preserve this 1913 wooden boxcar and use it for interactive exhibits/heritage activities. The main focus this year was painting the wooden superstructure and metal undercarriage. New interactive educational displays were installed including local heritage artifacts, a running model train as an attraction and activity stations for family interactive games and hands-on activities.
Other works done by the group include the following:
Tube Tumbler: This machine was used to descale steam engine boiler tubing. This past year the wooden frame was stained with preservatives and the drum was power-washed and repainted.
Locomotive Shed: Our aim is to work with the Town of Ladysmith toward the preservation/restoration of this heritage building. We continued sourcing lexan to replace broken panes in the west wall windows, and patched and shored up the sagging south and north doors. We await an engineering report from the Town of Ladysmith which will chart the way forward for building restoration.
Track and work area around Loci Shed/inner yard: The two track switch levers/stands installed in late 2021 were rust proofed and painted. Brush and weeds were cut to keep the track open for use and as a safety precaution to prevent fires.
Additionally, some maintenance was performed on the Tyee Steam Donkey on Transfer Beach Boulevard: the log skids were debarked to slow ongoing degradation, and a missing vent cap was replaced to avoid rainwater ingress into inner boiler workings.
Industrial Heritage Activities Photos
The loci was left stripped of tubing and controls. We are working to have it as complete as possible for its 100th anniversary in 2023.
TRACK & WORK MAINTENANCE
PLYMOUTH LOCOMOTIVE #107
TYEE STEAM DONKEY, Transfer Beach
The Society hosted four ‘Historically Speaking ‘ talks this year. Cathy Gilroy spoke about local airman Ray Conti; David Hill-Turner told us about the ship The Robert Kerr; Drs. Arvid Charlie and Nancy Turner detailed ‘Luschiim’s Plants – a Hul’qumi’num Ethnobotany’, and Catherine Gilbert chronicled the story of the WW2 York Island gun emplacement. These talks were recorded and added to the LDHS YouTube channel. You can view them via our Website.
As noted above, Daryl Ashby has just given a special talk in the Museum about his recently published book ‘NOBODY’S Boy’.
For Heritage Week, which included BC Family Day, the Society conducted heritage activities in concert with the Maritime Society. A booklet “Family Fun at Ladysmith’s Heritage Waterfront” – Activity Book and Heritage Guide, sponsored by Canadian Fire Shield, Island Corridor Foundation, and the Province of British Columbia, was produced through collaboration between the LDHS, LMS, and Stz’uminus First Nation and was distributed free to families.
Father’s Day activities were also run jointly with the LMS – with food and refreshments kindly donated by 49th Parallel Grocery and Thrifty Foods.
Through its Annual Heritage Awards ceremony held online in February during Heritage Week, the Society celebrated individuals/groups that contributed significantly to the preservation of local heritage during 2021. Awards were presented to the following:
To: Clinton Charlie and The Young Wolves Dance Group for promoting and preserving the rich heritage of the Stz’uminus First Nation and for sharing this heritage with the Ladysmith Community and beyond.
To: The Ladysmith & District Credit Union , with special mention of artist Cathy Oliver, for the ‘Wall of History mural at Roberts Street and 1st Avenue which illustrates the long-time continuing connection between the Credit Union and our community.
To: Bill Verchere and Family for their loving multi-generational preservation of 641 3rd Avenue (the Coburn/Verchere house and gardens) which together are significant original elements of ladysmith’s built heritage.
And to: The Ladysmith Maritime Society, with special mention of Take5 Print and Digital Media, for the production of a series of ten documentary videos which outline the history of the society’s collection of restored wooden vessels, showcasing their importance to British Columbia’s maritime heritage.
Nominations for the 2023 awards are sought, with January 15th 2023 as the deadline for submissions. If you know of someone or something deserving of recognition, please consider contacting the society either by phone or email.
2022 marked the Centenary of the Aggie Hall. Celebrations organised by the Society included a Buddy Holly TributeConcert by Zachary Stevenson and Beatlemania. Held at the Aggie Grounds, over 450 people attended, rocking and rolling in the August sunshine in large part thanks to generous sponsorship by The Ladysmith & District Credit Union, the Kinsmen Club of Ladysmith and LDHS volunteers – most notably Alex Stuart. It was LOTS of Family Fun!
Sponsored by a Province of BC grant, Aggie Hall Centenary Activities held during September in the Aggie Hall included spectacular agricultural produce displays, traditional dancing, a ukelele concert, an air cadets parade and more. Permanent momentos of the centenary include two informative story boards installed on the sidewalk outside the building and (yet to come) signage on the east wall of the building noting its name and year of construction (1922).
To wrap up:
Emerging from Covid, the Society is very active and in good shape financially. We could do with more members and volunteers though…..
The very best to you for the Season! Stay safe and healthy. See you in the New Year!
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 and the Town of Ladysmith are thrilled to announce the receipt of a $15,300 Federal grant from the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program for the community to commemorate the 100th anniversary of construction of the Ladysmith Agricultural Hall (Aggie Hall).
Aggie Hall is located on 1st Avenue near the roundabout and is an important example of an early community-driven building project.
The hall and grounds were initially developed with funds raised by the community through subscription and the sale of shares. It was built in 1922 in seven weeks by miners.
When the floor was laid a dance was held, the first of many that would bring joy to generations of residents. The Agricultural Fall Fair became a tradition that continued into the 1990s as a major annual event with extensive involvement from local growers, food producers, artisans, gardeners and families.
Today, the Aggie Hall remains an important ‘people place’ within the community, housing the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron 257, one of B.C.’s oldest aid cadet squadrons, and Ladysmith Family and Friends (LaFF) as well as hosting other community events.
The hall represents the fruits of our community working together a hundred years ago.
A celebration for next September is being planned by The Aggie 100 Committee, composed of representatives from a variety of community organizations.
The Town appreciates the efforts of volunteers in carrying on the spirit of this historic landmark in the planning of activities of celebrations, details of which will be announced in 2022.
Stay tuned; look forward to a wonderful time and a celebration of our community.
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 (2022) 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 30. 2023
Award recipients will be announced during February’s BC Heritage Week.