A Year of Activities – 2021

Year in Review

 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…

Esther sorting book donations.


It has been a particularly busy year at the Museum.

We opened thePrime 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.

Wolverine from RBCM

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.

Artist Carol Tysdal created handmade dioramas and volunteers transformed the museum into a magical place for the young and young at heart.
Magic of the Season is on Sat & Sun 10-4 pm and evenings Tues-Fri 4-8 pm.

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 fibre arts, curated by Val Galvin
Juhli Shauer’s Octopussy’s Garden
Lynda Phelan’s Manage a Trois
  • ‘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.

Building Works:

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.

Downstairs renovation will make space for functional for meetings.

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.

Repairs outside museum
Town staff working on the exterior of building

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.

Plymouth coming back to Ladysmith

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.

Loci 11

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.

BC Family Day

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.

Heritage Awards:

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.

Luke Marston along with his brother John Marston received awards.

 ‘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:

Ladysmith Train Station renovations and community engagement were spearheaded by the LDHS

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.

Respectfully submitted by:

Quentin Goodbody, President LDHS