2024 Explore Guide for Ladysmith, Chemainus, Saltair, Cedar & Area

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Welcome to the heart of the island!

Welcome to the Explore Guide featuring Ladysmith, Cedar, Saltair, Chemainus and area. This is the premiere guide for the area in print and online format for central Vancouver Island.

Please visit us online for extra features, including videos, and direct links to the advertisers featured here, https://take5.ca/explore-guide/.

You can also follow us at facebook.com/ExploreLadysmithCedarSaltairChemainus and at facebook.com/take5publications or subscribe to YouTube.com/take5newstv for updates and news about our communities.

Inside this Explore Guide, you will find information, tips, and maps to ensure that you don’t miss a thing.

We are pleased to work with our talented local photographers to capture the natural beauty of our outdoors and the charming shops and services that our friendly communities offer.

The content in these pages is geared to not only visitors to our area but our residents. This is a vast area with many places that even the locals may not know about. We encourage everyone –no matter how many years you have lived here to be a hometown tourist and discover the wonders that are in your backyard.

You don’t have to travel far to get away

As you flip through theses pages we hope you will be inspired to explore mid Vancouver Island’s shops and services, parks and waterfront and consider making this year a “staycation”. Indeed, often just a short drive away you will find new and diverse experiences that will create lasting memories of joy, while supporting your local economy.

Every year we celebrate our area with the annual HomeTown Tourist Weekend held on Father’s Day. The campaign offers a sample of the fun to be had from kayaking and bike riding to arts and culture and fantastic boating, that rival big cities.

We would like to thank the business community for their support in producing this guide, as well as the contributors who generously have shared their passion and talents and love of this community.

For more information, drop in to our local Visitor Centres.

The EXPLORE GUIDE is available in print at Visitor Centres, shops and services throughout the mid-Island area. The online edition with live links and embedded video is available everywhere at take5.ca/explore-guide/ and the digital universe.

On the Cover:

Audrey Haslam enjoying a day at Transfer Beach. Photo: Marina Sacht

Inset Photos: (clockwise) Festivals, Kayaking, Wildlife, Coast Salish art

Photos: Bob Burgess, Marina Sacht


Jennifer Archer, Gerry Beltgens, Bob Burgess, Carolin Cnossen, Chemainus Valley Arts Cultural Society, Quentin Goodbody, Cal Gourlay, Andrew Gunson, Irene Harford, Nick Longo, John Manuel, Josh Persson, Tania Phiefer, Elly Smith, Tammy Tail, Kevin Wheeler

Publisher: TAKE 5 Print & Digital Media

Editor: Marina Sacht

Art Design & Maps : Angie Haslam

Sales: Susan Attiana, Elly Smith, Nadine Wong PO Box 59, Ladysmith, BC V9G 1A1, T 250-245-7015 F 250-245-7099

info@take5.ca take5.ca facebook.com/ ExploreLadysmithCedarSaltairChemainus/ youtube.com/take5newstv

©2024 TAKE 5 (541806 BC Ltd.) All rights reserved.

We plant a tree for every ad in the EXPLORE GUIDE

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Clockwise: Showing the love. Photo: Carolin Cnossen First Nations canoe races. Photo: Quentin Goodbody
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#Explore Ladysmith

The town of Ladysmith couldn’t be in a better location. With the mountains behind it and the ocean in front, it is ideal for outdoor activities. Known as Oyster Harbour, before incorporation in 1904, the town is famous for its large sheltered harbour and its awardwinning heritage downtown core. Ladysmith’s commercial heart is First Avenue with its small shops located on a street steeped in history. First Avenue was recognized as Canada’s 2017 Greatest Street. Indeed Harrowsmith Country Magazine named Ladysmith one of the 10 prettiest towns in Canada.

A unique feature of Ladysmith is also its location on the 49th parallel. This is the southernmost place in Western Canada. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 set the United States and British North American border at the 49th parallel from Lake of the Woods, Ontario westward to Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver Island, which is intersected by the 49th parallel at Ladysmith was retained by Great Britain until the colony of B.C. joined Canada in 1871.

To celebrate that fact, you will find Cedar markers in front of the heritage Agricultural Hall on the intersection of First Avenue and Symonds. If you are on a boat, you can also pass the 49th parallel marker erected by the Mount Brenton Power & Sail Squadron in Ladysmith Harbour.

The town’s economy was built on oyster farming, mining, and

logging. Forestry is still a part of the economy today, but the town’s location near major urban centres is attracting businesses.

Ladysmith is known for its community spirit, high level of volunteerism, and many service clubs. Festival of Lights, Ladysmith Days, Concerts in the Park, Arts on the Avenue, and Show and Shine are some of the annual festivals visitors and residents enjoy.

Ladysmith’s Mediterranean-like climate features mild winters and warm summers, allowing for outdoor activities year-round. The warm season, lasting from mid-June to September, enjoys an average daily high above 21°C. The hottest month is August, with an average temperature of 24°C. The coldest month of the year in Ladysmith is December, with an average low of 0 °C and high of 6°C.

A Rich History

The first inhabitants here were the Stz’uminus First Nation. For thousands of years, the Stz’uminus People used Ladysmith Harbour and its environs as a rich source of fish and shellfish. They established numerous fishing camps around the harbour, where they

(left-right) Downtown at sunrise. Photo: Cal Gourlay Ladysmith Days. Photo: Bob Burgess Heritage sailboat. Dorothy. Photo: Marina Sacht Holland Creek Park. Photo: John Manuel Soapbox Derby on First Ave. Photo Bob Burgess Ladysmith Show and Shine. Photo: Marina Sacht

practiced traditional food-gathering techniques. Their lifestyle was severely disrupted when the European colonists arrived.

Ladysmith has the distinction of being the only community on Vancouver Island designed as a “company” town by its founder, industrialist James Dunsmuir, who served as the premier of British Columbia from 1900 to 1902 and the lieutenant governor of British Columbia from 1906 to 1909. In 1897, when the coal mines’ seams in Nanaimo were depleted, Dunsmuir relocated the miners and their families to work his new source of coal at Extension Mine. The Wellington miners dismantled their homes, put them on railway cars and moved them to Ladysmith. Included in the move were some of the hotels, churches and business blocks that you can still see today.

For a self-guided tour pick up a Historic Buildings map at the Ladysmith Visitor Centre or download the free Ladysmith Heritage and Investment Attraction App. Managed by the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, the app explores key development zones and business opportunities, and offers cultural insights about the First Nations and industrial heritage of Ladysmith. Search for “Ladysmith Heritage” in your App Store or download it free from Google Play or use the web version available at https://tourismladysmith.ca/ ladysmith-history.

People often wonder how Ladysmith got its name. During the Boer War, the British troops under General Buller broke the four-

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A view to sea. Ladysmith’s hillside location offers views of the harbour. Photo: Gerry Beltgens

Unique Shopping and Dining

month siege of Ladysmith, South Africa, on March 1, 1900. Upon hearing the good news, Dunsmuir decided to name his new community “Ladysmith.” Hence the streets crossing First Avenue are all named after generals who fought in the Boer War.

Ladysmith played an important role in the early labour movement. A walk through the Ladysmith Cemetery will unfold the tragedies of lost lives in mining accidents. A monument is erected there for labour martyr Joseph Mairs.

In September 1912, the Vancouver Island Coal Strike began. Violent riots broke out in August 1913, and the militia was called. The strike would not end until the start of the First World War.

In the 1930s, with coal on the decline, Ladysmith was struggling economically until a violent windstorm blew over 7,406 acres of mature timber held in trust by the Rockefeller Foundation of New York. Western Canadian Lumber, the parent company of Comox Logging & Rail Co., purchased the timber from Rockefeller in 1935. This would start a long relationship with the forest industry in Ladysmith.

Today, you can visit the former Comox Logging site by the waterfront and still see artifacts from the town’s industrial and maritime heritage.

Ladysmith has a medley of independent businesses from trendy shops to thrift stores. Post Office Antiques, a former customs and jailhouse, and quality consignment stores offer treasures at bargain prices.

A trip along First Avenue would not be complete without a stop at the bakery for their famous cinnamon buns or a visit to the butcher for local meats and fish. From restaurants serving up British, Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian, and Japanese food to vegan, gluten-free options and cafés serving up homemade-style baking, there’s something for every taste or thirst.

Transfer Beach Park and Holland Creek Trail

Transfer Beach Park is where the locals go for fun. With its grassy slopes, shady trees and sheltered coastline, it’s an ideal place for a family picnic. Facilities include a water spray park, playgrounds, basketball court, sand volleyball, horseshoe pitch, picnic shelter, off-leash dog park, and kayak and SUP boat rentals. Some of the best swimming is here with the warmest waters north of San Francisco. At 17.90 C (64.22 F), the average monthly water temperature reaches its highest value in July. The Transfer Beach Dippers swim here year-round.

The park is home to Vancouver Island’s only beachfront amphi-

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Transfer Beach Park Amphitheatre. Photo: Marina Sacht

theatre and is an active venue for events and summer music concerts. Enjoy a picnic at one of the many tables at the park, or visit the food trucks operating there in the summer.

Residents will tell you that one of their favourite features about living here is the historic Holland Creek Trail. It offers 5.8 kilometres of trail and regardless of the time of year, you will find walkers on sections of the trail suitable for all fitness levels.

For indoor activities, the Frank Jameson Community Centre houses a fitness centre, swimming pool, sauna, and hot tub.

Lights, Camera & Action

It’s not surprising that Ladysmith has become popular with filmmakers given its small-town charm and its historic downtown – not to mention its most famous resident, actress and animal activist Pam Anderson, who has been making the news with her makeupfree appearances. Anderson moved back to her hometown and has been restoring her grandmother’s place known as the Arcady Auto Court, across the street from Coronation Mall. Incidentally, Pam was Ladysmith’s 1967 Centennial Baby. A number of movies and TV series have been filmed here attracted by Ladysmith’s unique wide streets and brick buildings.

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Transfer Beach Park is popular year round. Photo: Marina Sacht Film crew in downtown Ladysmith. Photo: Marina Sacht
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Festivities and festivals — a bright tradition

From the last Thursday of November until the second Sunday in January, Ladysmith is adorned with thousands of twinkling lights for Ladysmith’s Festival of Lights.

The Festival was started in 1987 by a group of citizens as a way to celebrate the season and support local shopping. Now, years later, it has become a much-loved Christmas tradition -- near and far with thousands of people gathering to watch the fun. The Christmas Craft Fair at Aggie Hall opens at 3 p.m., then from 4 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., locals and visitors can enjoy the street entertainment, food concessions and performers. Anticipation runs high until the big moment when Santa arrives downtown and throws the switch to light up Ladysmith at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Kinsmen night parade.

After the parade, head north on First Avenue and see the lightup of Bob Stuart Park, the Aggie Hall and the Chuck Perrin tree. The evening ends with a bang, a spectacular fireworks display sponsored by the Ladysmith & District Credit Union. While the lights may be dazzling, it’s truly the community spirit that lights up the town.

The main summer festival is Ladysmith Celebrations Days, a weekend of fun and music at Transfer Beach. Other notable events include Brits on the Beach, Ladysmith’s Show and Shine, and Arts on the Avenue, as well as Sunday Concerts in the Park.

Check Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce calendar for upcoming events and you will be entertained.

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(Right) View of First Avenue during Festival of Lights. Photo: Nick Longo

#Explore Cedar District

Scenic country roads dotted with century-old farms, homesteads, farm-gates and artisan studios, this is Cedar District located just north of Ladysmith. Cedar Village is the commercial centre, with a grocery store, hardware, fuel station and some of Vancouver Island’s best restaurants and pubs. Farm co-ops, organic growers and markets provide fresh produce and products to feed your body. Cedar’s spectacular sandstone beaches and trails will feed your soul.

Cedar and Yellow Point Roads connect this rural community. Enjoy the beautiful drive by car or bike. You will want to stop along the way. Don’t miss Blue Heron, Elliots Beach, Hemer or Roberts Memorial. All of these are easy hikes and offer stunning views, especially at low tide. Cable Bay Trail is a great place to watch boats streaming through Dodd Narrows at slack tide.

Bites of History

Cedar shares a history of coal mining with Nanaimo and its neighbours: Ladysmith, Chase River, South Wellington and Cassidy. Echoes of that past can be found along the trails and parks that follow the old rail beds. Pubs and restaurants here have a long history of serving locals.

The popular British Crow and Gate Neighbourhood Pub is a great place to relax amid their outdoor patio in the summer. In the winter,

a roaring fire will warm you as will their excellent selection of beers. Opened in 1972, it has the distinction of being the first neighbourhood pub in BC. Owned by the Olson family since 1986, their English gardens, Tudor-style architecture and tranquil rural setting attract locals and visitors alike.

Family Fun

Looking for a little family fun and something good to eat? Check out Yellow Point Farm. They offer a petting area where you can visit their Nigerian Dwarf goats, Babydoll Sheep, Kune Kune Pigs, and miniature donkeys. Check out their gift shop, which offers in-season produce. Their dried garlic and blueberry tea is superb!

A visit to Fredrich’s Honey is always a sweet delight!

Looking for some active fun? Drop by the Cedar Skate Park, on Walsh Road, and try out one of the finest skate parks on the Island.

World Renowned Eco-Forest

Tucked between Cedar and Stuart Channel is picturesque Yellow Point, whose name comes from the flowering orange and yellow sedum that once grew here.

Along Yellow Point Road is the world-renowned Wildwood Forest,

(left to right) Roberts Memorial Park. Photo: Tammy Tail, Steld Farm. Photo: Marina Sacht, Yellow Point Farm. Photo: submitted. Garden fresh garlic, Ecoteria Quince Farm, Quennel Lake. Photos: Marina Sacht

an 83-acre eco-forest nestled along the shores of Quennell Lake. Today, the unique demonstration eco-forest is home to original coastal Douglas-firs, representing a vanishing ecosystem once abundant on Vancouver Island. These ancient, original trees stand among a profusion of western red cedar, bigleaf maple, flowering dogwood and arbutus trees, and bring an amazing presence to the forest, stately in their towering height and size. Established in 1938 by Merv Wilkinson, it is operated by the Eco-forestry Institute which hosts vacation stays, workshops, and tours.

Farmers & Artisan Markets

The award-winning Cedar Farmers’ Market is one of the most popular markets on the Island – and the numbers prove it. You’d better get there early as about 59,291 people visit it annually! The market operates Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from Mother’s Day to the end of October, at the former Woodbank School site on Woobank Road, just off Cedar Road.

The market features locally grown fruit and vegetables, baked goods, goodies from food producers, ethically raised meat, sus-

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tainable seafood, potted plants, fresh-cut flowers, pottery, jewelry, food trucks, locally roasted coffee, homemade ice cream, all-natural bath and beauty care, home décor and more. Pets on short leashes are welcome. A small stage features free music performers.

A number of farm-gates operate in the area including McNab’s Farm that has a huge selection of squash in the fall. It’s fun to walk through the stalls and read about the vegetables characteristics.

Another popular market on Sundays is Carol’s Artisan Craft Market located at the North Oyster Community Centre, a heritage building.

Nanaimo River

From its source, the Nanaimo River flows east then north into the southwest corner of Nanaimo Harbour. The river has a canyon, which is the site of WildPlay Adventures with a bungee jump attraction. The area is known for its rock-climbing opportunities. Along the river’s banks are pockets of old-growth Douglas-fir.

The Nanaimo River is regarded by anglers as one of the best steelhead rivers in the country. On a warm summer day, the riverbanks hold many popular spots for swimming, tubing and picnicking. You can

launch by the bridge on Cedar Road. The beach is on the Snuneymuxw Reserve, so be respectful. The Nanaimo Lakes, made up of First, Second, and Third Lakes, are located on the upper Nanaimo River. There are four popular but rustic campsites owned by TimberWest.

The Nanaimo River Hatchery is run by the non-profit Nanaimo River Stewardship Society. The area offers a wonderful walk or bike ride. Annually, on the first Sunday in November, the hatchery hosts a public ‘Spawning Day’.

The Nanaimo River Estuary is the largest estuary on Vancouver Island and the fifth largest in British Columbia. It is an important traditional use area for the Snuneymuxw First Nations and supports a large number of plant life, fish and wildlife species. A viewing platform is a great place to do some bird watching. Bring your binoculars and spot the eagles, trumpeter swans, herons, red-tailed hawks, Canada geese, ducks, ravens, crows and owls.

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Nanaimo River. Photo: Jennifer Archer

#Explore Chemainus

Picture a town colourful in history and alive with art. Throw in unique shops, tasty eateries, and a world-class theatre, and you have Chemainus.

The town is unique in having two downtown sections. Willow Street runs through the centre of town while Old Town is off Oak Street. This was the original downtown and still has an early boomtown feel about it. A ferry terminal connecting Thetis and Penelakut Islands is at the foot of Oak Street by the government wharf. Bargain hunters will find lots to rummage through at the Chemainus Thrift Store. Treasures await at several antique stores and the eclectic indoor Chemainus Public Market offering shops, eateries, and an old-fashioned arcade.

Chemainus Village, which features shops, a restaurant, a liquor store, a pharmacy, and a grocery store, is near Askew Creek Park.

Chemainus Origins

The town’s name comes from a legend about a Shaman called Broken Chest (Tsa-meeun-is) who survived a chest wound and became a strong chief. His people loved him so much that they adopted his name and became known as Stz’uminus. As the area’s abundance began to be discovered by English-speaking and island inhabitants, a small town began to form on the site of Old Town.

Today, Chemainus is a picture-perfect artisan village along the ocean. Founded as a logging town in 1858, Chemainus was once the heart of the early forestry industry and boasted the world’s largest mill, but today it is most famous for its outdoor murals and works of art.

In the early settler days, Vancouver Island, with its giant coastal forests, offered unlimited logging, and Chemainus would prove to be an ideal location for forestry. Founded as an unincorporated logging town in 1858, a giant sawmill was completed in 1862, and Chemainus, with its deep seaport, became home to one of the largest sawmills in BC, operating for over 120 years.

When the mill closed, the population dropped. The town reinvented itself by commissioning artists to paint its history in the largest mural painting project undertaken in Canada at one time.

Thriving as a small-town tourist destination, those who come are charmed by the local artistry that can be seen everywhere. Storefront windows hold local handmade objects and gifts, the parks are lovingly adorned with carvings in homage to the heritage of this community. A slew of festivals and events happen throughout the year entertaining locals and visitors alike.

(left to right) Kin Beach Lighthouse. Photo: Josh Persson, Music in the Park. Photo: Chemainus Valley Arts Cultural Society, Downtown murals. Photo: Gordon Howe, Happy campers. Photo: Marina Sacht, Crane. Photo: Bob Burgess

World Famous Murals & Art

Welcome to Canada’s Mural Capital! You will want to embark on a walking adventure and wander the streets and alleys to discover the over 60 murals and 10 sculptures tell the story of Chemainus from its Indigenous roots to its pioneer settlement and beyond. Administered by the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society, the mural project is the world’s leading community-driven art tourism experience. You can pick up an Official Mural Guide at several locations,

including the Chemainus Visitor Centre and Museum and start your tour. Whichever way you want to explore, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy Canada’s largest outdoor art gallery and shops.

Waterwheel Park Festivities

The Waterwheel Park is located in the heart of Chemainus and bridges the newer downtown area of Willow Street to Old Town with a short footpath. A replica pays homage to the old water-

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wheels once used to power the mill.

Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society hosts performances at the Waterwheel Band Shell throughout the year, including “Music in the Park” during the summer. A playground for children, a labyrinth, electric car chargers, and a walking trail make this a pleasurable spot to relax. There’s plenty of parking, public washrooms, the Chemainus Museum with its collection of artifacts and photos of the early days and the Visitor Centre is also located here.

This is also the location of a weekly market on Wednesdays in the summer. And don’t miss the annual Giant Street Market in July when Willow Street is packed with approximately 150 vendors and food trucks.

Theatrics & Art Inspired

As well as having a large arts community, Chemainus boasts a world-class performing arts centre. The Chemainus Theatre draws visitors from all over Vancouver Island. The theatre is also home to the Playbill Restaurant and a delightful store/gallery.

Outdoor Fun

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the parks, trails and coastline. There are several beaches to swim and picnic in.

Easily accessible Kin Beach is located in Old Town. It has a playground and a beach. At low tide, you can walk out to the lighthouse on Bird Rock.

Boating is a popular activity here. A boat ramp at Kin Park is usually busy as residents and visitors explore the many small islands in the area. Off the shores of Chemainus is the world’s only sunken Boeing 737 diving reef, which draws divers from around the world.

Just south of town is Fuller Lake, prized for its sandy beaches, warm water and good fishing. Tennis and pickle ball courts,

playgrounds and a boat ramp for non-motorized boats make this an enjoyable place to spend a day. In the winter, you can ice skate at Fuller Lake Arena.

Chemainus Lake Park, located west of town, is a great place for fishing off the dock or hiking the trail that encircles the lake.

Askew Creek Wilderness Park, at the corner of Oak Street and Chemainus Road, is a jewel and one of Chemainus’ best-kept secrets. Here you can wander amidst oldgrowth timber and imagine what life was like when trees were giants.

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Chemainus Municipal Dock. The Thetis/Penelakut Ferry operates from here. Photo Josh Persson
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#Explore Saltair & Area

Leaving Chemainus and heading north to Ladysmith is the small community of Saltair. This area is known for its sweeping ocean views and laid-back ambiance. Its location, along with its natural coastal beauty, allows for a healthy lifestyle, with close access to many parks and recreation opportunities. A few shops and services are clustered around the tiny commercial centre on Chemainus Road but the main area for shops and services are a short drive away in neighbouring Ladysmith and Chemainus.

Saltiar belongs to Cowichan Valley Regional District. Gardening is a popular activity here and not surprisingly, as in the past “Sunny Saltair” was once known as the “breadbasket” of the island, supplying other areas with fresh fruits. Some of the heritage trees, and multi-generationally operated farms, can still be seen today.

Saltair’s name comes from the early days when the E&N Railroad stop here was named Saltair Landing. While the trains are no longer running, walking the rails is one of Saltair’s pleasures and the Saltair Rail with Trail is a 4.3-kilometre multi-user stretch of the Trans Canada Trail used by walkers and bikers.

There are two distinct landmarks in Saltair. The first is the Davis Lagoon and its bridge. This is where Stocking Creek meets the ocean, and the tide fills and empties twice daily. This is a popular spot to observe the self-dumping log barge. Often, you will see cars pulled over by the Lagoon Bridge, watching the barge tip on its side until thousands of logs slide into the ocean with a roar and mighty splash. Sandy tidal zone at this ocean lagoon teems with an abundance of wildlife.

The second is Boulder Point, also known as Big Rock Beach. Visit this beach at low tide, when you can walk along the shore, beach comb, and admire the sand dollars. Children will enjoy trying to climb the landmark rock.

Social life in Saltair centers around Centennial Park, located on South Oyster School Road, and the Saltair Community Centre, located next to the park. Check their website for upcoming events.

A variety of trails and parks offer hiking, but Stocking Creek Park is Saltair’s jewel, offering many kilometres of trails through a rainforest. The south entrance is off Thicke Road (off Chemainus Road), and the north is off Finch Place. The park has nature trails, picnicking and a gorgeous waterfall.

Waterfall at Stocking Creek Park. Photo: Gordon Howe.
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Come Foil around with us!

Are you looking for a new experience on the water? Are you adventurous enough to try the newest and biggest craze in the watersports industry? Do you want to take your boating experience up a notch and explore what’s out there? If you have answered yes, then wake foiling may be the perfect solution for you.

What is this new Vancouver Island sport that is causing all the buzz? Immerse yourself in the newest addition to Lake Cowichan’s Dry Dock Marine Group: Surf LC Wake-Surfing & Foil Charters. It’s surfing taken to the next level. Instead of your board making full contact with the water’s surface, the attached hydrofoil slices through the water while you ride the board hovering up above. Wake-foiling is where you start off being towed behind a boat, and as you speed up, you rise on the foil. When the boat has created a big enough wake to surf on the wave, you release the tow rope and surf behind the boat. It’s all about gliding effortlessly and smoothly above the water, one, two or even three waves behind the boat. If you want to try this exciting new sport head to Lake Cowichan.

Lake Cowichan has one of the largest fresh-water lakes on Vancouver Island, and its town, incorporated in 1944, is an idyllic community and one of Vancouver Island’s best-kept secrets. The Town

of Lake Cowichan can be reached via Duncan and from there is 20 minutes by car.

One of the locals there is Lucas Petrak, a board sports enthusiast since his first snowboard experience in 1993. In 2017 Luc and his wife/business partner Samantha moved to Vancouver Island with his dream of opening Dry Dock Marine Group. DDM was incorporated in 2018 offering storage, maintenance, logistics, custom installs, brokerage, restoration, and one-of-a-kind boat concierge and valet services for small to midsized pleasure boats. All the work that goes into boat ownership is just a distant memory for the DDM membership as they can rest easy knowing that all the pre-launch maintenance and repairs are done... clients simply arrive, cast the lines, and enjoy!

Spending his early years working in the marine industry on Shuswap Lake, Luc honed his skills in repair, maintenance, and servicing the needs of his boating clients. Knowing all the good, the bad and the ugly of boat ownership, DDM offers various membership packages depending on the needs of the boat and its owner. Need a few toys to have fun on the water or looking to upgrade your marine audio or make your current wave bigger with more ballast? Shop online and have it installed before you arrive. Dry Dock Marine Group has storage for 75 boats inside and outside storage for over 100 boats, with future growth that will double these capacities.

Gearing up for a launch in May 2024, Surf LC Wake-Surfing & Foil Charters will be ready to help you get the best wake foil board setup and instill the confidence you need to have a great time out on the water. Call them and pre-book your charter today. Foil surfing is an exciting experience, and the DDM crew on beautiful Lake Cowichan has all the equipment and knowledge to show you how it’s done. Experience the feeling of riding above the water instead of on it! Check them out at drydockmarine.ca or visit them at 33 Fern Rd, Lake Cowichan, BC. Keep your eyes on their social for upcoming events and giveaway contests. FB, Instagram and TikTok @drydockmarinegroup.

While checking out their services, be sure to set aside a day trip to explore. Find your adventure whether it’s kayaking, tubing, kiteboarding, hiking, boating, or strolling the town searching for treasures or relaxing with a great meal after your one-of-a-kind wakesurfing experience. A day or a week at Lake Cowichan will be the highlight of your summer!

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Dry Dock Marine Group: Surf LC Wake-Surfing & Foil Charters. Photo submitted.
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Explore Parks, Trails & Special Places

For outdoor fun, you’ve come to the right area. With close proximity to four golf courses, you’re minutes away from swinging your personal best. Opened in 1948, the par 71/73 Mount Brenton Golf Course has shaded fairways flanked by towering firs, with willow, hemlock, maple, scotch and ponderosa pine, sequoia, cedar, dogwood, and giant cottonwood. A challenge for every level of golfer, there are plenty of creeks to hurdle and ponds to circumvent. An extensive drainage system also makes Mount Brenton one of the most playable golf courses year-round on Vancouver Island.

Ladysmith Golf Club was opened in June 1980. It is owned by the Town of Ladysmith and is operated and managed by the Ladysmith Golf Club Society, a nonprofit society.

Everyone from the age of six and up is welcome to enjoy this ninehole par 3 course. It takes approximately one hour to play but is challenging, with two ravines to drive over and large, tricky greens. The course will test your short iron game and your putting skills.

Looking for an adrenaline rush? WildPlay Elements Park at the Bungy Zone, north of Ladysmith, offers zip lines, bungy jumping and an obstacle course in the tree canopy.

There are many parks and walking trails here from a leisurely seashore stroll to a heart-pounding hike to Heart Lake. The steep climb has been known locally as “Heart-Attack Lake,” but offers a switch-

back for a more civilized route.

Enjoy some of the best walking, hiking and biking trails the Island has to offer.

Here’s a sample of some of our favourite parks and trails.

In Ladysmith:

Holland Creek Trail, with entrances off Dogwood Drive, Sixth Avenue at Methuen and Mackie Roads, offers an attractive walking route on both sides of the creek. The trail is unique for its views of Crystal Falls. Approximately 5.8 km long, the trail has connectors on either end if you wish to make the walk more challenging. The trail is suitable for different fitness levels from the well-groomed path with some sections wheelchair accessible on the north side of the creek, while the south side is rugged with plenty of elevation changes. The creek exits into flat grassy lowlands by the ocean, creating an estuary that provides habitat for birds in a small delta.

Branching out from the Holland Creek Trail are several other trails. Rotary Lookout Trail is a short 1.2-km walk, which is accessed close to the log bridge on the Holland Creek Trail. Heart Lake Loop Trail

(left to right) Country roads. Photo: Gerry Beltgens, Diving in Ladysmith Harbour. Photo: Andrew Gunson, Barred Owl, Holland Creek Trail, Downtown Ladysmith Cops for Cancer event, Boating fun. Photos: Bob Burgess

is a challenging 6.4-km hike but rewards you with a panoramic view of the ocean and islands. Stocking Lake Loop is a 9.3-km trail that begins at Davis Road Park and takes about 2.5 to three hours to complete.

Marine Walk can be accessed from the Ladysmith Fishermen’s Wharf, Oyster Bay Marina or by the parking lot at the amphitheatre. It crosses Slack Point, which gets its distinctive black colour from the remnants of loading coal at the turn of the century. The section between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Oyster Bay Marina follows an old railway track used to bring in coal from Extension Mines.

Gourlay-Janes Park, off Chemainus Road, is an off-leash park where you can walk through the woods to the ocean.

In Saltair:

Diana, Princess of Wales Park, between Olsen Road and Rocky Beach Road, has a pleasant and very easy level walking trail that leads you through beautiful natural landscapes.

Stocking Creek Park, with the south entrance off Thicke Road (from Chemainus Road) and the north entrance off Finch Place, has nature trails, picnicking and a waterfall. The Cowichan Valley Trail, a multi-use trail that is an integral part of the Trans Canada Trail route on Southern Vancouver Island, also runs through the park, offering a connection south to Chemainus and north to the Town of Ladysmith. Finch Place offers access to the Cowichan Valley Trail.

Saltair Centennial Park is located on South Oyster School Road.

Saltair Rail with Trail starts at North Watts Road and goes to Chemainus. The 4.3 km Saltair Rail with Trail opened in 2019, connecting the communities of Ladysmith, Saltair and Chemainus with a three-metre wide compacted gravel surface that is gently graded and suitable for walking and cycling and is a popular spot for dog walking. The trail includes a single-span bridge crossing Stocking Creek and scenic views of Mount Brenton and the Gulf Islands. Side trips into Stocking Creek Park and its waterfall are readily accessible from here.

In Chemainus:

Askew Creek Wilderness Trail, accessible from Oak Street, is an easy-to-follow trail system that the whole family can enjoy. It features numerous old-growth trees and a creek.

Caswell Park is a residential green space and playground.

Chemainus Lake Park offers a 2.5 kilometer loop walk. It has trails and is a popular spot for fishing. This is also a good place to birdwatch or let your dog off leash on the trails.

Chemainus River Provincial Park is a 128-hectare park that offers swimming and recreation opportunities. It also is a popular spot for anglers.

Bannon Creek Falls. Hike in off Grace Road for a short but steep trail that takes you to a gorgeous waterfall.
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Chemainus Skate Park is located next to Chemainus Secondary School and offers 2500 sq. ft. of fun for BMX Bikes, scooters, in-line skaters, and skateboarders, of course!

Cook Beach Park with access through Island View Close is a peaceful spot to watch the ocean and picnic.

Daniel Street Park offers a small green space with access to the waterfront but come at low tide to enjoy the beach.

Doc Lewis Park has a large ballfield with 4 pitches.

Fuller Lake is very popular for fishing, canoeing and swimming with a lifeguard during summer. It also has a boat ramp and a sandy beach that is perfect for families. There are also tennis, pickle ball, and sand volleyball courts, and a fishing pier. Cutthroat and Rainbow trout are stocked regularly.

Fuller Lake Arena is surrounded by parklands and trails. The arena provides a 200’ x 85’ ice surface and is widely used for recreation.

Gerry Smith Park has landscaped gardens, with a steam train on display.

Kinsmen Beach Park has a sandy beach with warm, shallow waters for swimming, benches to picnic and take in the views while the children enjoy the playground. There is a small boat launch.

Waterwheel Park is centrally located downtown. This small park offers a playground, washroom and a widely-used outdoor stage that is a venue for many performers.

Wul’aam (Echo) Park is a rugged trail network at the end of Channel Boulevard. It loops through firs, cedars and maple trees.

In Cedar, Yellow Point, and south Nanaimo:

Blue Heron Park is on Westby Road, off Yellow Point Road. It has a beautiful sandstone beach, restrooms, and a picnic area.

Cable Bay Nature Trail is at the end of Nicola Road. After the bridge, the trail will take you past Dodd Narrows, a favourite spot to watch marine traffic navigate the narrows. This is an off-leash trail.

Elliots Beach Park on Elliot Way, off Shell Beach Road, offers picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.

Extension Ridge Trail is part of the Trans-Canada Trail system. It offers stunning views of the Strait of Georgia. The 8.9 km loop trail features a great forest setting. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and mountain biking.

The Abyss Trail, Extension Ridge attraction, is a fissure in the earth. Known to locals as The Abyss, Extension Ridge – a 4.5km section- is a playground for mountain bikers, hikers, and dog walkers.

Haslam Creek Trail and Suspension Bridge is part of the TransCanada Trail system. The trail is accessed at the end of Timberlands Road in Cassidy.

Hemer Provincial Park, off Holden-Corso Road, has easy walking trails. Mainly forested, this trail is a peaceful setting for walkers, paddlers, boaters and anglers. A bird-watching platform is available.

Morden Colliery Regional Trail offers walkers a chance to walk parts of the coal railway route that once linked the mines of South Wellington to the coal ships docked at Boat Harbour. The trail connects Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park with Hemer Provincial Park and runs along an old rail grade that was used to move coal during the early 20th Century. See the historic Morden Tipple and headframe, take a short walk to the Nanaimo River, or head to Hemer Park from the Cedar Plaza kiosk.

Raven Park on Shell Beach Road is a small but pretty beach park.

Roberts Memorial Park, off Yellow Point Road, has bathroom facilities, a day-use area, and areas for picnicking, fishing, biking, and hiking. The trail leads to the waterfront.

Yellow Point Park on Yellow Point Road features numerous nature trails dotted with wildflowers in springtime. The 5.3 km loop is good for all skill levels and is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching.

Enjoy the outdoors

Outdoor opportunities lie north of Ladysmith. Follow Christie Road until it turns into a logging road and winds deep into the backcountry. Visit the Bush Creek Hatchery, operated by Ladysmith Sportsmen Club members. Members are usually there on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The gravel road leads to Holland Lake, 2.5 km, a part of Ladysmith’s water supply and a protected area.

Timberland and Cassidy offer back roads that access several lakes for outdoor wilderness adventure.

Our community is truly blessed with an abundance of outdoor activities. So, grab your hiking boots, and explore nature’s playground.

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Vancouver Island Roosevelt Elk Photo: Bob Burgess
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Boating community

A large boating community is centred around the four marinas in Ladysmith Harbour. Additionally, there is the Boat Harbour Marina in Cedar, and a Government Wharf in Chemainus. Visitor moorage can be found at the government wharves. Ladysmith Yacht Club offers reciprocal moorage. Boat launch ramps are available at Ladysmith Fisherman’s Wharf, Cedar by the Sea, and Chemainus Kin Beach Park. There is a fuel dock in Chemainus. The volunteeroperated RCM-SAR serves the local boating community.

World-class diving is available here, with the world’s only sunken Boeing 737 and the famous Robert Kerr shipwreck nearby.

Heritage boats

The Ladysmith Maritime Society promotes maritime education and heritage tourism in the area.

Their heritage boat restoration program has earned them worldwide recognition. They are located in the former Comox Logging & Rail Co. “Car Shop” along the waterfront. Stop by and watch them bring back to life wooden boats from a time when beauty and craftsmanship were king. Visit their website for information on their programs and services. https://www.lmsmarina.ca/

Adventures on the Water

If you enjoy kayaking or paddleboarding, you will love it here. Large tracts of shoreline and small islands are within easy reach. Ladysmith’s Transfer Beach Park offers the perfect launch site or stopover. Bute Island, just across the harbour, is a marine park with a community dock, a walking trail and several spots for excellent swimming. Beyond the inner harbour, Evening Cove and Elliots Beach Park offer a reprieve from the more open waters of Stuart Channel. Saltair has an expansive beachline, and Chemainus offers oceans and lakes to discover.

Make sure you bring your binoculars and watch for harbour seals, sea lions, otters, sea stars and sea anemones. Look up and see oystercatchers, ospreys, bald eagles and great blue herons.

A pod of orca occasionally visits Boulder Point.

Kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals can be found at Transfer Beach’s Sealegs’ Eco-Adventure Centre. Alternatively, wildlife kayak tours or weekend adventures are available with local operators such as Let’s Go Kayaking and Saltair Ocean Adventures. This area is truly a paddler’s paradise . - Excerpt from Sheryll Bell

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(left to right) Elliots Beach Park, a popular spot for a kayak launch. Ladysmith Maritime Society’s heritage rowing boat. Photos: Marina Sacht

Sealife abounds in our local waters

Vancouver Island’s waters are home to some of the most unique and interesting sea creatures on Earth.

Here are some of the critters you can find in our local waters.

Sea Snails Have you ever found a rubber-like collar in the ocean?

You might be surprised to find that this isn’t discarded plastic garbage, but instead the egg casing of a moon snail.

These snails burrow under the sand and excrete a mucus that sticks to the sand, forming a ring around their shells where they then lay eggs. These casings stay buried in the sand, camouflaged by their sandy exterior.

Starfish Ocher starfish come in a variety of colours, from pink, purple, brown, orange and yellow. Recently the population of starfish has fallen rapidly due to a disease, but their numbers are slowly recovering. Ocher starfish have been known to live up to 20 years and can grow about 20 centimetres in length!

Barnacles Barnacles aren’t just spiky growths; they serve an important purpose in the ocean’s ecosystem by filtering the water and feeding on the micro-organisms inside. Even the simplest of sea creatures can serve an important role. Did you know that barnacles are closely related to crabs and lobsters as well?

Sculpin Tidepool sculpin are small spiny fish that often like to hide in tidal pools. You’ve likely caught a few if you’ve spent some time at the beach. These fish will try to eat nearly anything, making them a particularly easy catch. You may know these

fish as bullhead, which is a very similar fish species often found in rivers and lakes. The two fish are mistaken for their similar appearance and attitude.

Jellyfish Jellyfish come in many different varieties, but two are the most common. First is the moon jellyfish, which come in a see-through or misty white colour variation. These jellyfish are mostly harmless; their stings being incredibly tiny and almost unnoticeable to humans.

The red jellyfish, also known as the lion’s mane jellyfish , vary in species across our coastlines. These are NOT safe to touch! They can cause immense pain and leave lasting issues, such as infection. If you see a red jellyfish, observe it from a healthy distance.

Octopus Why do we find octopuses so fascinating? Octopuses show lots of interesting features: they have a funnel for jet propulsion, adaptive skin for camouflage, an ink sack to fend off predators, three hearts and pulsating veins, big eyes that are very similar to our human eyes, an elaborate brain and prehensile arms with some mind of their own.

Enjoy exploring the coastline.

Vibrant kelp crab. Photo Kevin Wheeler.

Let’s Get Creative!

This area is home to many performers, artisans, and internationally acclaimed artists, including musicians David Gogo, Ryan McMahon, and Nate Harris, as well as artists and carvers.

Visit Cedar and Yellow Point’s artists, crafters, and farmers by taking family and friends on a relaxing self-guided Country Christmas Tour held annually over several days in November. During the summer, artisans keep their own hours. Call ahead to make sure they are open. For more information visit www.cyartisans.com.

The Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society is an active group that hosts and promotes a number of musical events, including an open mic year-round. Founded in 2016, Rainforest Arts features local artists’ work and operates under the CVCAS umbrella. The Chemainus Sketch Group has a long history and a large membership.

The Ladysmith Arts Council operates a gallery in the Temperance Hotel, located on the corner of High Street and First Avenue. The group also offers many workshops and organizes events such as Arts on the Avenue, a street festival in August. A Light Up the Night market is held the day before.

If you enjoy arts, heritage, performing arts, or culture, you will find plenty of inspiration here.

Go Live With Performing Arts

Ladysmith Little Theatre offers cabaret-style seating and some great entertainment. They are in a converted schoolhouse built in 1912. Along with their play season they offers workshops and participation in an improv group. https://www.ladysmiththeatre.com/

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(left to right) Stz’uminus Ceremony. Photo: Bob Burgess. Artist at Ladysmith Museum. Photo: Marina Sacht, Pottery by Jane Wolters. Photo submitted. Piper at Transfer Beach. Photo: Bob Burgess. The Sunshine Girls. Photo: Marina Sacht. Heritage boat Kirkegaard. Photo: Bob Burgess. Opposite page: Steam Locomotive at Ladysmith Industrial Heritage site. Photo: Marina Sacht

The Yellow Point Drama Group is the second oldest drama group in the province. The group was started in the early 1950s by Anne Mossman; in the years since, the amateur troupe formed Yellow Point Drama Group in 1953, winning numerous awards. The group performs at the historic Cedar Community Hall. For show schedules, please visit their website. http://yellowpointdramagroup.org/

The Chemainus Theatre Festival offers professional plays, a summer program, a restaurant, a gallery and a gift shop. They are an economic driver for Chemainus, proving the business value of art. The non-profit society offers uplifting performances and is known for its musicals.

Hometown Heritage

Before time immemorial, there were Indigenous Peoples. The mid-island has an eons-long history of Coast Salish people whose way of life centered around the coast and forests with their abundant natural resources. The area was settled by Europeans seeking new opportunities afforded by black gold (coal) and tall timbers. Relics of the past are still evident, especially along the waterfront. Even nowadays, the forestry industry remains important, although

the economic base has broadened.

While this area has enjoyed considerable growth, it has retained its small-town charm and community warmth.

Take a stroll along award-winning First Avenue in Ladysmith and enjoy what the stores and restaurants offer and the heritage buildings they are located in. As you walk downtown, look at the industrial artifacts on display. Refer to the online Community Heritage Register and the Heritage App for individual histories. Visit the Ladysmith Museum and Archives for more information on the community and its formation. The museum’s featured exhibit is Treemen-

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Displays are constantly changing

Head down to the harbour and visit Transfer Beach Park, once the centre of a coal port with massive bunkers, extensive wharves, shrieking steam engines and clattering coal. Today it is a haven of tranquility, with beautiful vistas, a playground and an open-air amphitheatre. Stroll the paths along Oyster Bay Drive and visit the Ladysmith Maritime Society’s Boat restoration shed, where volunteers are restoring beautiful heritage boat. The building is known as the Car Shop and is part of the group of buildings that were a part of the Comox Logging & Rail Co. Depot. You can still see remains of the industrial artifacts here, including its railway tracks, outer buildings and the beautiful Baldwin steam locomotive that is over 100 years old.

The present Waterwheel is a replica of the original that powered the early mills. This wheel and the park’s first phase were constructed as part of the 1967 Canadian Centennial celebrations.

The park has a bandstand where concerts take place in the summer. Adjacent to the park is the Public Washrooms and the Chemainus Museum and Visitor Centre. Operated by the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, the museum is a wonderful place to learn about the area’s history. Outside, you will find a view of the Gulf Islands and the busy harbour. This is the site of the first and present sawmill.

Mining past relics

dous - Our Fantastic Forests. The museum has a giftshop that showcases locally made arts and crafts, including First Nations art.

A stroll through Chemainus offers a different experience. Here the story of the original murals brings the town’s history to life. The original downtown is Old Town, where the commercial heart of the town was located. Waterwheel Park is the heart of the community. This area was once part of the grounds of the mill manager’s house, located about where the statue of HR MacMillan now stands.

There were a large number of mines working in the mid-island area starting in 1897. A must-visit is the Morden Colliery Historic Park, the location of the Morden Mine. It’s tipple and headframe are one of only two surviving examples of concrete headframes in the world.

The Extension Miners Community Park is worth the visit to explore the area’s mining past and view the restored Dunsmuir coal cart, along with other artifacts and interpretive signs.

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One of the last two remaining concrete headframe and tipples in the world can be seen at Morden Colliery Historic Park. A trail leads to the Nanaimo River. Photo: Bob Burgess

Here are just a few events happening this year.


Heritage Week on the third week of February, features events at Ladysmith Museum and the Ladysmith Maritime Society.


Ladysmith SailPast is sponsored by the Ladysmith Yacht Club. Watch the floating boat parade and activities at Transfer Beach Park.

Cedar Farmers Market starts Mother’s Day and closes end of October. Every Sunday at Woodbank School in Cedar.

Transfer Beach Park Food Truck Concession opens until mid September.

Annual Garden Tour. Fundraiser by Ladysmith Rotary.


The annual Hometown Tourist weekend on Father’s Day Weekend, free and discounted events and attractions. Hill Dash race and more. For details, visit www.take5.ca/hometowntourist.

National Indigenous Peoples Day. This event celebrates the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples in Canada.


Canada Day events throughout the communities. Concerts in the Park series starts in July and goes until end of August on Sundays at 6pm at Transfer Beach Amphitheatre.

Chemainus Giant Street Market - Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce annual Market features over 150 unique vendors lining Willow Street. Crafts, antiques, collectables, clothing, jewelry, skincare products, food, and so much more!

Brits on the Beach car show at Transfer Beach Park.

Chemainus Valley Blues Festival at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus. Chemainus Bluegrass Extravaganza & Festival at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus.

Shoreline Strings Waterwheel Park in Chemainus.


Ladysmith Days on BC Day Weekend offers fun for everyone. Live music and entertainment, vendors, food trucks, wraps up with fireworks at Transfer Beach.

Rockabilly featuring Zachary Stevenson, Waterwheel Park Chemainus.

Chemainus Accordion Festival Waterwheel Park Chemainus. Country Jamboree, Waterwheel Park Chemainus. Naden Band, Waterwheel Park Chemainus.

Ladysmith Show and Shine. First Avenue in downtown Ladysmith is lined with hundreds of makes and models of classic and treasured cars and motorcycles. Rod Run the day prior.

Arts on the Avenue, Downtown Ladysmith becomes an open-air festival of art, entertainment and fun. Paintings, jewellery, pottery, carving, metal works, photography, painted glassware, fibre arts and more.

Light Up the Night kicks off the Arts on the Avenue festival the night prior. Features night market, arts and music.


Ladysmith Festival of Lights starts Thursday of November and goes until mid January.


Old Time Christmas. Ladysmith turns back the clock to on First Avenue in Ladysmith to celebrate Old Time Christmas events. Magic of the Season, special exhibit at Ladysmith Museum.


(left to right) Music in the Park, Chemainus. Photo: Chemainus Valley Arts Cultural Society. Ice cream treats. Photo: Marina Sacht, Ladysmith Show & Shine. Photo: Bob Burgess.

Coast Salish Peoples

We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, Penelakut & Halat First Nations.

Long before European explorers landed on the shores of Vancouver Island the Coast Salish People were enjoying the natural bounty of the waters and the land. They are stewards of this land.

Xpey’, Western Red Cedar, is known as the tree of life. The Coast Salish People used many parts of the tree in everyday life. Its importance cannot be overstated. An abundance of cedar provided materials for everything from housing and canoes to ceremonial masks. Maple and alder were used for smoking fish. Tribal herbal remedies were used for disease and infection, a practice still in use today. Seals and porpoises provided a source of oil. Agriculture provided a good part of the diet, and birds and game were abundant. Hunters had a special status within the tribal structure.

Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, Penelakut & Halat First Nations belong to the Coast Salish People. The language which is associated with the Vancouver Island Coast Salish is the Hul’qumi’num dialect. There is a strong resurgence of interest in Coast Salish language and culture amongst both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

For thousands of years, Indigenous people along the coast of British Columbia have crafted canoes to meet their needs. But these beautiful crafts are also an extension of the art of their people. The continuing crafting of these canoes by master carvers, along with local annual races is a significant cultural experience on Vancouver Island.

Art and music are important, and there are a number of accomplished artists, weavers, artisans and carvers. Drumming, singing and dancing allow both communities to appreciate the cultural value of the Coast Salish People.

On June 21, the communities observe National Indigenous People’s Day with events and gatherings.


National Indigenous People’s Day at Transfer Beach Park Amphitheatre. Photo: Bob Burgess.

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