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 Islands Information

Place: Ladysmith BC on Vancouver Island
Ladysmith, A Town of the Past
by Margot B

Ladysmith BC on Vancouver Island is only a 85 km (53 mi) drive north of Victoria BC on Hwy 1...a short trip filled with ocean and mountain views. Ladysmith BC is 26 km 16 (mi) south of Nanaimo BC. South of Nanaimo, closer to Ladysmith is Cassidy, home to the Nanaimo Airport and the Duke Point Ferry Terminal providing various easy access points to the Ladysmith BC area.

Recreation includes water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, diving, boating, and water-skiing. The archipelago of islands around the Ladysmith area makes it one of the most popular paddle sport destinations in N. America. There are three marinas: two are public, and one is commercial. Attractions include Skateboard park, par 3 golf courses.

Transfer Beach Park is a popular spot for swimmers, picnics and large gatherings. Popular attractions are the amphitheatre, logger sport facilities, horseshoe pitch, barbecue huts, kids playgrounds, sand volleyball and basketball courts, concession stand, and kayak rentals. It is a well-planned and attractive park with acres of grass and flowerbeds, surrounded by big trees.

Behind Ladysmith in the hills is a 4-kilometer hike through a rainforest with bridges, wildlife and waterfalls. This area includes Stocking Lake, one of the two main sources of Ladysmith's drinking water.

Ladysmith has focused its interest on attracting tourism by setting up world-renowned annual festivals and events. In spring there is a two-day festival which attracts hundreds of paddle sport enthusiasts for boating fun, food and music. On Canada Day there is cake, fun and music on Ladysmith's historic waterfront. On BC Day there is a daylong weekend parade, a soapbox derby, logger sports, games, rides, music, entertainment and fireworks.. Ladysmith Fall Fair in late August or September, showcases Ladysmith and area talents in horticulture, arts and crafts, home economics, beer and winemaking.

There are two main shopping areas: the First Avenue in the downtown area and the modern Coronation Mall on the Island Highway, with a wide variety of shops, services and eateries.

Ladysmith, with its downtown heritage buildings, was named one of the ten prettiest towns in Canada by Harrowsmith Country Life magazine. Ladysmith has been given the National Communities in Bloom Award with a 5-Bloom rating, with a special mention for Heritage Conservation.

Ladysmith was originally known as Oyster Bay, formed in the late 1800s...then came the coal mining and logging industries. In 1986 the logging industry pulled out, and in 2003 Ladysmith introduced the Festival of Lights, which displays thousands of lights, from the last Thursday of November till the New Year, attracting over 10,000 people in one night and continuing to the present day. An official light -up ceremony includes a parade, spaghetti dinner and fireworks.

James Dunsmuir, owner of the mines, was laying out his new township of Oyster Harbor in 1900 when he received news that British troops under the command of General Buller had broken the four month siege of Ladysmith in Natal province, South Africa and decided then that his new town would be named Ladysmith to honor this British victory of the Anglo/South African war of 1899 to 1902. Ladysmith was used as a dormitory and recreation complex for the miners and their families and as a shipping port for coal from the Extension Mines in Nanaimo. It was incorporated in 1904 and the town grew rapidly over the next few years mostly due to the coal industry, but also because of copper excavated from Mount Sicker, which continued 'till 1912. The following year the coal miners up and down the Island went on strike. Bombs targeted equipment and homes, prevailing for over a year when the military was called in and the riots were crushed. Ten years later the mines were shutting down as the demand for coal was dissipating and the coal getting harder to find. The areas residents turned to logging and other forms of employment after the mines closed in the 30s, but in 1933 1000s of trees toppled in a massive windstorm [known as the Big Wind] and the logging industry was born when the Comox Logging & Railway Co used the harbor as a shipping port.

Trail Guide: The Holland Creek Loop, The Heart Lake Loop, The Stocking Lake Loop, The Rotary Lookout Trail, The Estuary Trail, The Marine Walk. Developed through the collaboration of volunteers, government grants, and staff.

by Margot B,

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