It feels like Spring! Days are longer (Spring Equinox is March 20th): Snowdrops and Camelias are blooming, Daffodils budding and leaves bursting. Ya gotta love this time of year!
There is also a spring in our step as we are hopefully beginning to emerge from under the dark cloud of Covid-19. Although an abundance of caution and continued adherence to Covid protocols are still required due to virulent variants, vaccinations are progressing and people are looking forward to getting back to normality later this summer.
The LDHS, like everyone else, has been affected by Covid. Instead of slowing us down though, the society has been working in different ways, and a lot has been going on. Thanks have to be given to the Federal and Provincial governments for grants to assist with covid-related costs; this has allowed us to switch gears to meet the Covid challenge.
A reduced roster of volunteers has continued working behind closed doors under strict Covid-19 protocols doing archival work, servicing queries from the public by phone or email and conducting research on society contracts and historical subjects of their own choosing. Housekeeping on the electronic database and computing system has been ongoing. An inventory of the computer hardware and software was conducted and a strategy for replacement and upgrading implemented.
A new exhibit, ‘Prime Predators of Vancouver Island’, opened on Family Day February 15th. Twenty-three intrepid visitors came in that day despite the snow. 190 people have viewed the exhibit between February 15-28th, all visits in strict Covid compliance with limited numbers, bubble spacing and strict sanitizing between groups.
The Prime Predator exhibit is a new departure for the museum. Not only does it celebrate and inform about our natural heritage, but it also fulfills a public service by providing information on what people should do if they, say, encounter a cougar or bear on the trails behind the town. Watching kids stare open-mouthed at the cougar, or howl along with the wolves (you can listen to animal sounds by pressing a button), and the “I didn’t know that”s from the adults reading the storyboards has made the six months of hard work preparing the exhibit more than worth it! A huge thank you to the volunteers that made this lovely exhibit possible.
The gallery area upstairs in the Museum is hosting ‘Red Flag Red Flag’, a fibre arts exhibit on Climate Change in the form of multiple triangular pennants, each one a handcrafted design reflecting the effects of Climate Change on our world. Thanks to Val Galvin for curating this exhibit.
During the winter Museum volunteers have been battling a leaking roof and flooding due to poor perimeter drainage – this requiring shop-vacuuming water, sometimes several times a day, during rainy periods. We are delighted to inform that the LDHS was successful with a CERIP (Community Emergency Recovery Infrastructure Program) grant application (Unique Heritage Infrastructure) and has been awarded $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. Preliminary discussions regarding the work have been held with the Town of Ladysmith which owns the building.
Industrial Heritage Preservation
The Industrial Heritage Preservation Group has, perhaps, suffered most from the effects of the Covid lockdown as operations at the harbourfront CL&RCo railyard have been in limbo for much of last year and have yet to start up again. Once the volunteers are vaccinated and have built up immunity we can contemplate Saturday morning workbees again. There are lots to do!
We have purchased paint for Loci 11, the Humdergin and Box Car. Hopefully good weather and relaxation of Covid protocols will coincide and let us get on with completing the restoration of these rare artifacts.
A focussed fundraising campaign is being designed targeting purchase/fabrication of key pieces that are missing from Loci 11. We are eying her 100th birthday in 2023 and would like to have the engine ‘as complete as possible by that date for a grand unveiling.
The loan agreement between the LDHS and the Museum of Port Alberni for the Plymouth 107 gasoline engine has been finalized. We look to the imminent signing and transfer of this engine to Ladysmith. You may remember the dual purpose of getting this engine back: not only did it work at the CL&RCo yard in Ladysmith and thus is of local heritage interest, but also when repaired to running condition it can be used to shunt rolling stock around the trackage – including pulling Loci 11 in and out of her shed.
Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful with a joint LDHS/LMS CERIP grant application for $ to restore the Loci Shed and Car Shop. The south doors to the Loci Shed are in poor shape, and due to safety concerns, cannot be used. We have a tentative arrangement with VIU to assist with the reconstruction of the doors – once we get lumber and $ together to cover costs.
The IHPG continues to work on a proposal for space in the now almost earthquake-proofed Machine Shop as part of the Town’s planned Arts & Heritage Hub component of the Waterfront Development.
The LDHS and the LMS are working together regarding preserving and promoting Harbourfront Heritage. Significant progress has been made on developing a clear understanding of each society’s vision, needs and wants and how best to present these in a unified fashion. Quentin Goodbody and Marnie Craig have been appointed as LDHS and LMS representatives respectively on the newly struck Arts and Heritage Hub Design Steering Committee which is scheduled to hold discussions about how last year’s award to the Town of $3.4mm for Arts & Heritage Hub development will be best spent. The Society is committed to working with stakeholders toward an appropriate balance between retention of heritage features and development of the site.
Communication and Membership
The Society has been focused on increasing communication with members, the general public, other local societies, and the east-central Vancouver Island heritage community. All this aimed at raising the profile of heritage and the Society and extending its reach to the public.
The LDHS website has been revised and populated with a lot of additional material. The Facebook page is very active with 900+ followers.
Despite the impressive Facebook numbers, our membership remains low – partly due to people forgetting to renew at year-end. I encourage you to renew either via the website link or contact the Archives (250 245 0100) to arrange payment and receipt. The fee is VERY reasonable – $15.00 per annum for a single, $20.00 for a Family – and goes toward funding activities.
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 Annual Ladysmith Heritage Awards ceremony was done by Zoom on Sunday, February 21st. A star-studded cast of recipients included Barrie McDonald, Pamela Anderson, Luke and John Marston and The LMS Heritage Vessel Restoration Group. MC’d by Quentin Goodbody, Mayor Aaron Stone and Chief Roxanne Harris helped give out the awards. Special guests included MP Paul Manley and MLA Doug Routley. 35 computers and devices were logged into the awards on Zoom. The awards were live-streamed on Facebook , recorded, and as I write this has been viewed 932 times.
Historically Speaking Talks Series
The YouTube recording of Gary Allan’s December 10th talk titled “The Role of Wolves: the lives of wolves, traits, culture and ecological value as an apex predator ” has been viewed 250 times.
Erik Piikila gave a talk in January titled “Ecosystems in the past, changes, and today. Effects of railroad logging, Lessons from the past for Climate Change and Forest Management” which was well received and prompted much thought. His talk has been viewed 243times on the Society’s Youtube channel at the time of writing (March 4th).
Daryl Ashby and Rob Johnson are scheduled to present ” MDA King of Ladysmith” at 6.30pm March 18th. The Zoom link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81410416877
Don’t miss it!
People and Place Neighbourhood Project:
The final project report, spearheaded by Lesley Moore with help by six volunteers and funded by The Heritage Legacy Fund (administered by Heritage BC) was submitted at the end of December 2020. The research focused on identifying cultural diversity in early Ladysmith and determining whether there were neighbourhoods delineated by race, nationality, religion, creed and how these varied through time. A Resource Kit presents the project results: it includes an illustrated settlement timeline 1889 to 1939, townsite maps showing the ebb and flow of Ladysmith population, and evidence of neighbourhoods found in aerial photos, panoramas and streetscape photographs, all arranged chronologically. The kit, kept in the Reading Room of the Archives Building, will be available for use by researchers, community groups, museum outreach programs and Ladysmith schools’ Social Studies and Human Geography classes once pandemic restrictions ease.
CVRD Heritage Inventory Project:
This project involved visiting all the Museums and Discovery Centres between Mill Bay and Nanaimo and talking with staff to understand the focus and ‘modus operandi’ of each facility. Shirley Blackstaff, Marina Sacht and Quentin Goodbody completed a report and submitted it to the CVRD in March 2021. This inventory is useful for the One Community Project reported below.
“ONE Community’ Project:
Funded by The Heritage Legacy Fund of BC (managed by Heritage BC), the first of two scheduled Zoom workshops was held March 1st with 19 representatives of museums, discovery centres and cultural groups in the area between Mill Bay and Nanaimo. The project has the following aims:
- Getting to know each other within the heritage community
- Developing a mid-Island Heritage network
- Improving awareness and understanding of cultures within our community
- Developing a strategy to raise the profile of Heritage
- Developing marketing opportunities, emphasizing Heritage Tourism
- Leveraging national, federal, provincial and municipal assistance
The second Zoom workshop is scheduled for March 15th.
The Beat Goes On – Music in Ladysmith:
This contract, with the Virtual Museum of Canada, will tell the Town and District’s history through music of the era. An explanation of the project will be posted in the near future on the Website. Volunteers with enthusiasm would be most welcome!! Musical bent would be very useful but is not a requirement.
To wrap up:
Despite Covid-19 difficulties, the Society is very active. Grants from Provincial and Federal governments have defrayed our inability to hold fundraising events. This has allowed us to expand into different areas of activity Like everyone else, we are eagerly awaiting an end to Covid restrictions, but must bide the time ‘till it is appropriate for things to open up. That being said, there is plenty of opportunities for volunteers to assist with current projects (such as The Beat Goes On) without having to gather in person. We look forward to hearing from you!
Respectfully submitted by Q Goodbody, President LDHS