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 Tribute Concert 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!
Respectfully submitted by:
Quentin Goodbody, President LDHS