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: