A LOT has been happening since the last AGM in August 2020 – both on the Covid front and within the Society – which has, I think, coped fairly well given the circumstances.
I want to acknowledge the continued financial support by the town – with which we partner, through a Management and Operating Agreement, to run the Archives and Museum. This agreement comes up for renewal next year, so some negotiations are in the offing. Additionally the Town provided money through a Grant in Aid, to finance, in part, the Industrial Heritage activities at the Comox Logging yard (Steam Loci 11 and Humdergin refurbishment, track upkeep etc.). We also receive annual contributions for heritage promotion and staff/volunteer training.
As I said last year, without this arrangement and support the LDHS would be a very different type of society.
We have been, and continue to be, affected by Covid-19. Hopefully with vaccinations the risk of severe effects has diminished, but we still need to adhere strictly to protocols for the protection of our volunteers and our community.
Covid-19 Emergency Funding:
The Society last year received funding from the BC Museums Association Resiliency Fund and the federal Canadian Heritage Covid-19 Emergency Support Fund. This financial support is gratefully acknowledged. It has financed purchase of Covid related supplies and facilitated expansion of the Society’s online presence through renovation and expansion of the website, increased Facebook and YouTube presence, and purchase of a commercial Zoom account.
Our part-time archivist, Christine Meutzner and Volunteers have been working , and for the time-being continue to work, behind closed doors at the Archives. In-person visits can occur by prior arrangement, following strict Covid protocols. In addition to servicing queries from the public by phone or email, a lot of background work has been going on. Computing systems have been reviewed/improved: hardware and software have been updated. Database clean-up and re-organisation continues: historic photos scanned and id’d etc. etc. Volunteers are researching specific topics – about which we very much look forward to talks and/or reports!. It is pretty busy in there!
After being closed during the winter for renovations (done by volunteers) and due to Covid, the Museum opened in February, with strict Covid entry protocols. Our feature exhibit ‘Prime Predators of Vancouver Island’ has been very successful, attracting young and old from near and far. More about this in the Museum Committee report. Reorganization of the Museum continues, updating content and presentation of permanent exhibits about the town and district, this paired with the addition of video, sound and interactive technologies. Computer hardware and software have also been updated.
In February we received a significant BC Community Economic Resiliency Infrastructure Program (CERIP) grant from the Province of British Columbia for repair and renovation of the Museum building. This funding, gratefully received, is being spent on the following:
- improvement of drainage and roofing to prevent flooding every time we get persistent rain
- Upgrading artifact storage by installation of compact rolling shelving
- Upgrading curatorial work area
- Improving visitor flow through the facility
- Improving meeting spaces
- Upgrading climate control (installation of air conditioning in the attic)
Please take a moment to look at the sketch plans for these renovations – posted in the Museum and on the Society website.
The roof and drainage work is being managed by the Town. As evidenced by a pile of dirt to the north of the Museum building at the time of the AGM, work has started in earnest on the drainage aspect. Quotes are coming in for the internal renovations. The rolling shelving has been ordered and will be here in December. Under the terms of the grant we have until Spring 2023 to complete the work.
After a 5 month Covid hiatus, Industrial Heritage Preservation Group volunteers recommenced work this Spring on Saturday mornings under Covid protocols at the Comox Logging Depot – continuing such key projects as restoring Loci 11, The Humdergin and maintaining the track.
Shirley Blackstaff, head of the Industrial Heritage Committee has written a report on this group’s activities.
The Society entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Island Corridor Foundation, under which a group of volunteers spruced up the building for viewing by groups interested in rehabilitating it for their use. Let’s just say that, amongst other things to be done to make the building presentable, there was some rather interesting graffiti that needed to be covered up…. Thanks to the Kinsmen and Rotary Clubs for financial support. Submissions by interested parties will be reviewed by an as yet to be set up independent committee. We look forward to this heritage building once again playing an important community role.
Historically Speaking Talks Series
This talks series, started last year, has continued via Zoom.
To date, the Society has presented 12 of these talks. The last talk was given on July 20th – the 150th anniversary of BC joining the Canadian Confederation. – an important milestone which our federal and provincial governments unfortunately chose to ignore. The talks are available to view through the Society’s YouTube site. If you have not viewed them, do check them out – lots of interesting stuff there! Links to the talks can be accessed on the LDHS Website. Anyone can make a presentation – please do step up if you have a subject you would like to talk about.
Heritage Promotion took a number of forms:
Again this year we, in conjunction with the LMS we put on Family Day and Heritage Week activities in February.
Our Heritage Treasure Trail was particularly popular with over 5000 views online.
We again presented the Ladysmith Annual Heritage Awards – via Zoom. This year we had star-studded cast of worthy recipients.
The Society has been very active working on projects and contracts:
People and Place Neighbourhood Project:
Spearheaded by Lesley Moore and funded by HeritageBC, this work, focused on identifying cultural diversity and early neighbourhoods in early Ladysmith, was completed with the production of a report and ‘learning kit’ which is available for schools from the Archives.
Heritage Inventory Project:
This project, which involved reviewing all the Museums and Discovery Centres between Mill Bay and Nanaimo, was completed this Spring, with a report being provided to the CVRD which funded it.
Ongoing projects include:
ONE Community Project:
Funded by The Heritage Legacy Fund of BC (managed by HeritageBC), the Society hosted a series of Zoom workshops which were attended by heritage societies and cultural groups in the area from Mill Bay to Nanaimo to see how we can work together to further preservation of, education about, and celebration of, our community’s varied heritage and to further communication between different cultural groups. The project is still ongoing, with work being done on crafting a digital map of heritage assets and pursuing ‘Reconciliaction’. Several more workshops will be held prior to year end.
The Beat Goes On – Music in Ladysmith:
This exciting contract with the Virtual Museum of Canada charts the story of the Ladysmith area through time as evidenced by our music. We are working on it now, writing story pages about specific events exemplified by associated music. More volunteers for this fascinating project would be most welcome.
To wrap up:
Despite Covid-19 difficulties, the Society is active.
Important tasks lie ahead, and challenges remain: namely:
- We will need to renegotiate the Archives and Museum Management and Operating Agreement with the Town as the current agreement expires end of June next year. Without additional volunteers or money for wages, it will be difficult for the Society to maintain the current level of service.
- We are worried about vanishing Heritage. We have met with the Town about updating Ladysmith’s Heritage Strategic Plan, but there is much more to do on this.
- We are working to foster a closer relationship with the Stz’uminus First Nation and to integrate First Nation content within the Museum/Learning Centre.
- We are concerned about the Comox Logging Machine Shop, Loci Shed and Railyard. The Loci Shed needs structural work right now.
- We need clarification from the Town regarding our tenancy of the Loci shed and railyard – our permit to occupy expired in Fall 2019. We also need clarification on space allocation in the machine Shop – when its current rehabilitation is completed.
- We are worried about long term plans for the Museum. The current building is slated for demolition in the future – when is not known. . Where will the Museum be in the future and what form will the building take?
- We are short on volunteers – ours is an aging group diminished by Covid concerns. The Society is working at capacity at the moment. We need more people willing to invest time and effort to maintain current activity – let alone do more.
- While we are in decent financial health, we are always short of money to finance the projects we want to do. We need a ‘professional’ focus on fundraising.
- Oh, did I mention that we need more volunteers?
This is your Society. We are proud of it, and of our Community. Thank you for your membership and your interest in its heritage.
Respectfully submitted by: