Welcome to the heart of the island!
Ladysmith and its working harbour. Photo: Ken Plant
Welcome to the 2021 Explore Guide featuring Ladysmith, Cedar, Saltair, Chemainus and area. For over a dozen years, we have been producing this print and online guide of central Vancouver Island. Here you will find the best of what our area has to offer, insider tips and maps to make sure you won’t miss a thing. We are pleased to showcase local photographers that capture the natural beauty of our outdoors, along with the charming shops and services that our friendly communities have to offer. With COVID-19 changing the way we are travelling, this is an ideal time to play hometown tourist and discover the wonders that are right here in your backyard. We invite you to explore your shops, services, restaurants, parks and waterfront and make this year a “staycation” for you and your family to enjoy. You will not only be curbing the spread of COVID-19 but also helping the local economy. There is much to do and see here. The annual HomeTown Tourist Weekend held this year on June 19 to 20, 2021, offers a small sample of the fun to be had. Visit us online for extra features, including videos, and direct links to resources (take5.ca). Follow us at facebook.com/ExploreLadysmithCedarSaltairChemainus and at facebook.com/take5publications or subscribe to YouTube.com/take5newstv for updates and news about our communities. For more information, check in with our local Visitor Centre. 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 for this community.
Cover: Tricia Pinkerton and Kim Black explore Bute Island in Ladysmith Harbour. Photo: Marina Sacht Inset Photos: Ken Plant, Shawn Wager Design: Angie Haslam
2021 EXPLORE GUIDE is available in print at Visitor Centres, airports, shops and services throughout the mid-Island area. The online edition with live links and embedded video is available at take5. ca and shared via social media around the globe.
Did you know that TAKE 5 Print & Digital Media plants a tree for every ad in the EXPLORE 2021 edition? That’s 80 trees! Thank you for supporting local.
Photography: Gerry Beltgens, Bob Burgess, Chris Burgess, Brett Burrow, Cindy Damphousse, Kelly-Ann D Argue, Guillermo Ferrero, Karen Funk, Angie Haslam, Rob Johnson, Jason Keel, Brianna Kennedy, Sue LaBine, Ladysmith Archives, Nick Longo, Susan Margetts, Lori McCulloch, Pam Mitchell, Ken Plant, Marina Sacht, Deborah Scott, Bill Tilland, Lulu Vegh, Kerith Waddington, Shawn Wager, Bruce Whittington Contributors: Sheryll Bell, Gay Dauncey, Quentin Goodbody, Carolyn Herriot, Marina Sacht, Town of Ladysmith
Publisher: TAKE 5 Print & Digital Media Co-coordinator: Kim Black Art Design & Maps : Angie Haslam Editor: Marina Sacht Copy editor: Katie Heffring TAKE 5 Print & Digital Media Box 59, Ladysmith, BC V9G 1R4, T 250-245-7015 F 250-245-7099 email@example.com take5.ca facebook.com/take5publications youtube.com/take5newstv ©2021 TAKE 5 Publications (541806 BC Ltd.) All rights reserved.
Explore Ladysmith Ladysmith sits between the ocean and mountains on the eastern shores of Vancouver Island. Known as Oyster Harbour, prior to incorporation in 1904, the town is famous for its heritage and quality of festivals and events. Volunteering is big in this small town. First Avenue, Ladysmith’s main street, was recognized for its unique shops and streetscape by being awarded Canada’s 2017 Greatest Street. Here you will find mostly independent, locallyowned shops with unique services and products. Oyster Harbour, the town is located on the 49th parallel and has a rich history built on oyster farming, mining and logging. Its long sheltered harbour and its charming downtown are some of the attractions of this community where “heritage meets the sea.” Ladysmith is known for its community spirit and hosts many celebrations, such as the Festival of Lights, Ladysmith Days and Pirate Day, which will return this year depending on COVID health orders.
Film industry It’s not surprising that Ladysmith has become popular with filmmakers given its small-town charm and its historic downtown. Some recent productions filmed here include NBC Universal’s TV series Resident Alien, Pup Academy and the feature film Sonic the Hedgehog, starring Jim Carrey and James Marsden. North Island Film
Commissioner Joan Miller credits Ladysmith’s unique wide streets and brick buildings not found in other regions as its attraction to those in the film industry. Vancouver Island North Film Commission serves the Island communities from Ladysmith to Cape Scott. They promote our region to the domestic and international film industry as a prime location for film, television and commercial productions. Productions like these help the economy by hiring local talent and using the town’s services.
Fitness Ladysmith’s Mediterranean-like climate features mild winters and warm summers, allowing for outdoor activities year-round. A treasure of Ladysmith is the Holland Creek Trail, running through the centre of town, with sections of the trail suitable for all fitness levels. The Crystal Falls and Colliery Dam are great places to take some photos. For indoor activities, the Frank Jameson Community Centre houses a fitness centre, swimming pool, sauna and hot tub. COVID-19 protocols are in place and pre-registration is currently required in place of drop-in fitness classes during the pandemic.
Arts The town has a thriving arts community as seen in the number of independent studios in the area. The Arts Council of Ladysmith & District is the main visual arts organization in Ladysmith. They operate the volunteer-run Waterfront Gallery that offers monthly
exhibits for their members, a gift shop, studio space and classes. The gallery is located inside the former South Davis School, while renovations of the former Comox Logging & Rail Co Machine Shop is underway. During the pandemic, the Waterfront Gallery is operating virtually with online classes, gift shops and gallery. The Arts Council of Ladysmith & District was awarded a contract to complete the Public Art Strategy for the Town of Ladysmith. The report is available on the Town’s website.
Stz’uminus First Nation The first inhabitants of what is now known as the Town of Ladysmith were the people of 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. The Stz’uminus established numerous fishing camps around the harbour, where they practised traditional food gathering techniques. The historic lifestyle of the Stz’uminus was threatened by the arrival of Europeans, who usurped much of their territory. They now reside within four reserves, two of which border Ladysmith Harbour. The two other reserves are located south of Chemainus. Although the harbour is no longer the rich source of marine life it once was, the Stz’uminus People continue to practice many aspects of their traditional lifestyle and are working with the Town of Ladysmith to restore the Harbour to its original condition. Today, the Stz’uminus are progres-
sive people who are moving towards building an independent nation via economic development, education and partnerships with a strong value system based on their culture.
History Ladysmith has a unique history. It is the only community on Vancouver Island designed as a “company” town by its founder industrialist and politician James Dunsmuir. Dunsmuir 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 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 the hotels, churches and business blocks that you can still see today. You can pick up a Historic Buildings map at the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce for a self-guided tour or download the Ladysmith Heritage and Investment Attraction App. Ladysmith’s heritage downtown. Photo: Lulu Vegh Metal Collage on First Avenue. Photo: Rob Johnson Blossoms in spring Photo: Rob Johnson Roberts Street Photo: Marina Sacht Canoe Races: Photo: Nick Longo Transfer Beach Photo: Lori McCulloch
Managed by the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, the app allows you to explore key development zones and business opportunities, as well as offering cultural insights about the First Nations and industrial heritage of Ladysmith. Search for “Ladysmith Heritage” in your App store. You can also download it free from Google Play or use the web version available at app.tourismladysmith.ca. People often wonder how Ladysmith got its name. During the Boer War, the British troops under General Buller broke the fourmonth 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 a role in the labour movement and still takes pride in being a “workers’ town.” Even today, a vigil to the gravestone of labour martyr Joseph Mairs happens every year. A walk through the Ladysmith cemetery will unfold the tragedies suffered during its mining past. 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. It was a miserable fall for residents of Ladysmith in 1918. The Great War in Europe dragged on, the country was deeply in debt and unemployment remained a problem. The city was still reeling from the divisive impact of the 1913 miner’s strike, and regional economic development was on hold until war’s end. The struggling young city did not need another disaster, but one had already begun. The Spanish Flu would claim 20 to 50 million victims worldwide. All churches, schools and social clubs in Ladysmith were closed and citizens were urged to shop early so that “store clerks could return
home to their families before 6 p.m.” The Colliery, however, remained open throughout the epidemic, although all workers were encouraged to wear masks.
Ladysmith Harbour Originally named Oyster Harbour, Ladysmith Harbour has always been an oyster growing area, going back to 1884. The flats at the mouth of Bush Creek were the home to a large population of the native oyster. The warm, calm waters in the summer months provide ideal growing conditions. Walter Jones began cultivating the Japanese oyster in 1912. He became a successful pioneer oyster farmer and his family kept his lease until the 1980s. Today, you can
still purchase fresh oysters from Ladysmith Harbour at Timothy Oysters and Limberis Seafood, another early-day oyster pioneer. Limberis Seafood Processing Ltd (LSPL) is North America’s foremost processing and purification facility for steamer clams and is a world-renowned distributor of North Cove brand manila clams. The Limberis family has been proudly farming and processing North Cove brand Manila clams for over 70 years from hundreds of acres of shellfish tenures. Peter Limberis immigrated from Greece to Canada in 1939. Shortly after his arrival, he imported seeded Pacific oyster cultch from Japan in conjunction with BC Packers, with some of the shipment destined for Washington state. This imported cultch, along with small numbers of natural sets occurring in Ladysmith Harbour, became very prolific throughout the harbour and the Strait of Georgia. In 1943, a large shipment of oysters was imported from Japan by Peter; this shipment also yielded an accidental introduction of the Manila clam to these waters. Both the Pacific oyster and the Manila clam have flourished in these local waters, becoming the primary bivalve species harvested and farmed in British Columbia. It can be said that the oyster and clam industry in BC was founded in Ladysmith Harbour.
Transfer Beach Park and Holland Creek Trail Located across the highway from City Hall, Transfer Beach Park is one of the most beloved parks in this area. With its grassy slopes, shady trees and sheltered coastline, it’s an ideal place for a family picnic. Facilities include an outdoor amphitheatre, water spray park, playgrounds, basketball court, sand volleyball, horseshoe pitch, picnic shelter, off-leash dog park, and kayak and boat rentals. You can lounge under a large willow tree or swim in some of 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 park is home to Vancouver Island’s only beachfront amphitheatre, which hosts weddings, special events and summer music concerts. Food trucks provide tasty snacks or just pop across the street for many restaurants and cafes offering delicious dining opOpposite page: Anchor at round-about, Ladysmith. Photo: Rob Johnson A serene moment at Transfer Beach Park. Photo: Bob Burgess
vegan to neighbourhood cafés, there’s something for every taste.
Festival of Lights — a bright tradition
tions. Just as beloved as Transfer Beach Park is Holland Creek Trail. It offers 5.8 kilometres of the trail with entrances off Dogwood Drive, Sixth Avenue and Mackie Road. The historic trail offers views of the creek and Crystal Falls. Please see the Great Outdoors section for more information on trails and a map.
Going green Respect for the planet is shared by many of the residents here who value quality over quantity and believe in treading lightly on the planet. Ladysmith is a “green“ community and has taken many initiatives to ensure sustainable development. The town’s organic waste collection was one of the first launched in B.C. Electric car charging stations are located on First Avenue and Buller Street, in front of the Ladysmith Museum. In the summer vegetables are incorporated along with flowers at City Hall to share with the community. Ladysmith has won numerous awards, including being named “one of the ten prettiest towns in Canada.”
Shopping and Dining
Ladysmith Light Up 2021 will be Thursday, November 25, marking the start of six weeks of dazzling light displays in downtown Ladysmith. Although the actual Light Up night and parade was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, the lights sparkled just as bright with many evening strollers downtown in their individual bubbles, armed against the cold with a hot beverage. The Festival of Lights was started in 1987 by a group of citizens as a way to celebrate the season and support local shopping. Now, 34 years later, the annual Festival of Lights has become a much-loved Christmas tradition -- near and far with thousands of people gathered to watch the fun. Pending COVID-19 protocols, for 2021, the Christmas Craft Fair at Aggie Hall will open at 3 p.m. Then from 4 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., enjoy the street entertainment, food concessions and performers. This is gearing up for 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 breathtaking Chuck Perrin Christmas Tree, presented by the Nanaimo Airport Commission. The evening ends with a bang, a spectacular fireworks display sponsored by the Ladysmith & District Credit Union. The most amazing thing about Ladysmith’s Festival of Lights isn’t the light displays but the community spirit that truly lights up the town. Let’s hope that with enough people vaccinated, we will see an end to the pandemic, and 2021 Light Up will go ahead. And, with that, we will have a lot to celebrate. In the meantime, consider lending a hand to the Festival of Lights volunteers. Work and preparation are ongoing. For more info visit them at ladysmithfol.com.
Ladysmith has a medley of independent businesses from trendy shops to thrift stores. Be sure to make a stop at Post Office Antiques, a former customs and jailhouse, and the Antique Addict, as well as several quality consignment stores. The Ladysmith Thrift Store is also popular. A trip along First Avenue would not be complete without a stop at the Old Town Bakery for their famous cinnamon buns — rated the best on Vancouver Island. From cafes and diners that specialize in British, Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian, and Japanese to
Holland Creek Trail Photo: Brett Burrow Festival of Lights Photo: Guillermo Ferrero
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 business centre of this district, 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 beaches and trails will feed your soul. 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. Both the Cranberry Arms and the Wheatsheaf Pub have a long history of serving their thirsty clientele for over 100 years. The Mahle House is also rich in history, as well as being a toprated restaurant with an excellent wine list and lovely gardens. To provide their diners with the freshest organic ingredients, they have their own gardens, raising fruits, vegetables and herbs. What they can’t grow or if can’t produce enough, they purchase from likeminded local farms. Either in their gardens in the summer or by their roaring fireplace in the winter, the British-style Crow and Gate Pub is a great place to relax. Opened in 1978, it has the distinction of being the first neighbourhood pub in BC. Owned by the Olson family since 1987, their English gardens, Tudor-style architecture and tranquil rural setting
attract locals and visitors alike. Looking for food that matters? Try the multiple-award-winning Co-Co Café, a locally run non-profit co-op serving up good food, coffee and opportunity for youth with developmental disabilities. Cedar and Yellow Point Road are the main roads connecting this rural community. Enjoy the beautiful drive or ride a bike as you explore parks, farm gates and art studios along the way. You’ll find that sandstone beaches, lakes, rivers, and creeks vie for your attention. Don’t miss Blue Heron Park, Elliot Beach Park, Hemer Park or Roberts Memorial. All of these are easy to walk and have stunning views, especially at low tide. Cable Bay Trail is a great place to watch boats streaming through Dodd Narrows at slack tide. 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 worldrenowned Wildwood Forest, a 77-acre ecoforest nestled along the shores of Quennell Lake. The Stz’uminus and Snuneymuxw of Coast Salish have cared for these lands and waters for countless generations. The unique demonstration ecoforest is home to many original coastal Douglas-firs, representing a vanishing ecosystem once abundant on Vancouver Island. Only 0.5 per cent of these forests remain. 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 that hosts vacation stays in the historic homestead. Contact them for information on tours, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. A family favourite is McNab’s Farm corn maze and produce farm. Opened in 2002, the seven-acre maze changes every year in the fall. The farm also has a massive pumpkin patch, hayrides (COVID-dependent) and a popular roadside produce stand with an astonishing variety of squash. For the active crowd, drop by the Cedar Skate Park, on Walsh Road, east of the Cedar Community Secondary building on McMillan Road and try out one of the finest skate parks on the Island. 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 bungee jumping attraction, as well as being known for its rock climbing area. Along its banks, you will find pockets of old-growth Douglas-fir forest. These forests are one of the four most endangered ecosystems in all of Canada. The Nanaimo River is also regarded by anglers as one of the best steelhead rivers in the country. On a warm summer day, this is a popular area for swimming, tubing and picnicking. You can launch by the bridge on Cedar Road. The beach is on the Snuneymuxw Reserve, so access is a courtesy — please respect their land. The Nanaimo Lakes made up of First, Second, and Third Lake, are located on the upper Nanaimo River. There are four popular but rustic campsites owned by Timberwest. First Lake was stocked with salmon or trout for recreational fishing beginning in 1905. The Nanaimo River Hatchery is run by the non-profit Nanaimo River Stewardship Society. Visit the Nanaimo Fish Hatchery and discover the world of salmon. The Nanaimo River Estuary is the largest estuary on Vancouver Island and the fifth largest in British Columbia. It is a highly productive extremely sensitive ecosystem that supports a large number of plant life, fish and wildlife species. The estuary is an important traditional use area for the Snuney-
muxw First Nations. It is also extensively used for industrial, as well as recreational purposes by the surrounding population. A viewing platform is a great place to take in the view of the outlying lands. Bring your binoculars and spot the eagles, trumpeter swans, herons, red-tailed hawks, Canada geese, ducks, ravens, crows and owls. There were a large number of different mines in the vicinity starting from 1897. In the Timberlands–Cassidy and Extension area, you will find mining relics. A large mining accident occurred
Hay harvest in Cedar Photo: Nick Longo Cannabis Farm Photo: Kerith Waddington Yellow Point Drama Group members Photo: Marina Sacht Tug at Dodd Narrows. Photo: Ken Plant Yellow Point Park Photo: Marina Sacht Zuiderzee Campground Photo: Marina Sacht
Farmers Markets & More
on October 5, 1909, when 32 workers were killed in an explosion in the No. 2 West mine at Extension, shaking the community to its core. If you visit Ladysmith Cemetery, you will find several gravestones with that tragic date. A little out of the way, the Extension Miners Community Park, located at 2901 Extension Road, is worth the visit to view a restored Dunsmuir coal car and other relics. The Cassidy area, settled originally as farmland, is a gateway to the backcountry, with many trails and back roads to explore. Access to the Trans Canada Trail is available off Timberlands Road. Visit www.rdn.bc.ca for a map.
Cedar Farmers’ Market is one of the most popular farmers’ markets on the Island. It runs Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from Mother’s Day through the end of October, at the former Woodlbank 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, sustainable 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. COVID-19 protocols are in place. Another popular market in the area is
the Cedar Swap Meet and Carol’s Artisan Craft Market. As these are located indoors, check to see if they have reopened. In 2020, these markets were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. When operating, the Cedar Swap Meet is held Sundays at the Cedar Community Hall, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The hall dates back to Cedar’s early farming history and is home to the Yellow Point Drama Group. Likewise, a short distance away, the North Oyster Community Centre. Once a school, it is now home to Sunday craft markets and other community events. Kiwi Community Garden Photo: Bill Tilland McNab’s Corn Maze & Produce Stand. Photo: Cindy Damphousse Cedar Farmers’ Market. Photo: Marina Sacht
The origin of the town’s name comes from a legend that tells of a Shaman called Broken Chest (Tsa-meeun-is) who survived a chest wound and became a strong chief. He was so loved by his people that they adopted his name and became known as Stz’uminus. Today, Chemainus is a picture-perfect artisan village nestled between the mountains and ocean. Founded as a logging town in 1858, Chemainus was once the heart of the early forestry industry but today is famous for its more than 44 outdoor murals and 13 outdoor 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. Not ready to give up, the town reinvented itself by commissioning artists to paint the history of the town in the largest mural painting project undertaken in Canada at one time. The murals, along with over a dozen sculptures, tell the story of Chemainus from its First Nations beginning to its pioneer settlement and beyond. Supported by the Chemainus Mural Society, the mural project continues with new murals being added regularly. Pick up or download the Official Souvenir Map at the Cheaminus Visitor Centre, and start your walk through history. The Waterwheel Park is
the heart of Chemainus and bridges the newer downtown area to Old Town with a short footpath. A replica pays homage to the old waterwheels that were once used to power the mill. Depending on COVID health orders in place, the 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, heritage displays, electric car chargers, and a walking trail make this a pleasurable spot to relax. There’s plenty of parking, public washrooms, the newly expanded Chemainus Museum with its collection of historic artifacts and photos of the early pioneers and the Visitor Centre is also located here offering advice and bike rentals. A statue of lumber baron HR MacMillan makes a great photo opportunity. Chemainus is unique in having two downtown sections. Willow Street runs through the centre of town while Old Town is off Oak Street. Old Town was the original downtown and still has a pioneer feel about it. A ferry terminal connecting Thetis and Penelakut Islands is at the foot of Oak street by the marina. Bargain hunters will find lots to rummage through at the Chemainus Thrift Store. Treasures await at several antique stores and the newly opened Chemainus Public Market in a former grocery space in the centre of town. 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 to its excellent shows. The
theatre is also home to the Playbill Restaurant and a delightful store/gallery. Check for possible COVID effected hours of operation. It is easy to explore the charming downtown by foot or check to see if the horse and carriage tours are operating. This is the way to see the town in style. But however you decide to tour, give yourself lots of time to enjoy the art installations and the shops. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the parks, trails and coastline. There are several beaches to swim and picnic. Easily accessible Kin Beach is located in Old Town by the ocean. It has a playground and a nice beach. At low tide, you can walk out to the lighthouse on Bird Rock. Off the shores of Chemainus is the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only sunken Boeing 737 diving reef. Since its final flight, this aircraft draws divers from around the world. This is a must-do if you are a diver. Boating is a popular activity here. A boat ramp at Kin Park is usually a busy place as residents and visitors explore the many small islands in the area. Just south of town is Fuller Lake prized for its sandy beaches, warm water and good fishing. Tennis 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 Chemainusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; best-kept secrets. Here you can wander amidst old-growth timber and imagine what life was like when trees were giants and timber was king.
Walk the trails and take your dog for a stroll before heading to the Chemainus Village featuring shops, a restaurant featuring woodfired pizza, and an award-winning brewery where you can sit and sip while waiting for your next adventure. Beautiful and historic Waterwheel Park Photo: Kelly-Ann D Argue Several antique shops offer treasures Photo: Karen Funk Chemainus Murals Photo: Karen Funk Fuller Lake, a great place to swim, fish or boat Photo: Rob Johnson St Michael Church in downtown Chemainus Photo: Rob Johnson
Gardeners paradise BY CAROLYN HERRIOT
Why is gardening so popular in our area? That’s because we are blessed with a mild temperate climate with Mediterranean summers that allow us to grow such an abundance of wonderful plants all year round. People on Vancouver Island love their gardens and over many years as an author speaking to garden clubs in the region, I have met hordes of enthusiastic gardeners, raring to go and full of zest for life. That, I have discovered, is where it’s at for many retired people, who flock to Vancouver Island. People are told to keep active to stay healthy, and there’s no better way than having a garden plot to sink your hands into. Access to the calming influence of Nature keeps us sane in crazy times. Last spring garden centres and seed companies were overwhelmed as people responded to questions about food security by growing their own food. Nowhere was a tomato plant or cage to be found, and bags of soil and fertilizer were flying off the shelves! Later that applied to canning jars as people put food by for the winter. “Hurrah,” I silently say, “the food revolution has finally arrived!” Buying local has became the new politically correct thing-to-do, and around where I live this has resulted in a sudden flurry of wonderful farm stands. A good definition of food security is making sure your neighbours are fed, so we are moving in the right direction! Welcome to year two of the ‘turnaround decade’. It’s time to take the load off the planet and there’s no better way to do this than to grow your own food, and when there is extra to share it. To get you motivated think of the fresh air and exercise, the feelings of satisfaction, and the improvement to your mental health and well-being from just having your hands in the earth. Research shows that exposure to bacteria leads to a more robust immune system, so think of being covered in dirt as garden therapy! Gardening not just builds greater resilience it also creates community, which is also a good thing in uncertain times.
Saltair is a serene coastal community with beautiful sunsets and sweeping ocean views. Tucked between Ladysmith and Chemainus, it is a predominantly rural community of approximately 2000 people, many attracted to Saltair because of the panoramic ocean and mountain views and ambiance. Its location, along with its natural coastal beauty, allows for a healthy rural lifestyle, with close access to shopping and services. Three areas make up Saltair: North Saltair is north of the Davis Lagoon to Ladysmith town boundary, Central Saltair is from Davis Lagoon to the Boulder Point area, and South Saltair encompasses the rural residential and agricultural areas in the south to Chemainus. These sub-areas each have unique characteristics, and Saltair residents place a high value on the natural, peaceful, rural nature of the community. Several art studios and home-based businesses are to be found here, along with outstanding recreational opportunities. Saltair Centennial Park is located on South Oyster School Road. This large multi-sport community park in Saltair has ballfields, picnic shelter,
playground, sports and tennis courts and washroom facilities. This is a great place to stretch your legs and let the kids play. Just a stone’s throw away is Boulder Point, also known as Big Rock Beach. You will want to visit this beach at low tide when you can walk along the shore, beachcombing and admiring the sand dollars. Children will enjoy trying to climb the landmark rock. A variety of hiking trails are found at beautiful Stocking Creek Park. This 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 entrance is off Finch Place. The park has nature trails, picnicking and a gorgeous waterfall that you will want to photograph. If you are looking for less of a challenge, take a delightful stroll through an old-growth forest at Diana, Princess of Wales Park located between Olsen Road and Rocky Beach Road. Saltair’s name is closely tied with the railroad. Over a century ago, the E&N Railroad stop here was named Saltair Landing. While the trains are currently not running, walking the rails is one of Saltair’s
pleasures. The Saltair Rail with Trail is a 4.3-kilometre multi-user stretch, a popular part of the Trans Canada Trail to walk or bike. A sight not to be missed is 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. Several of these unique barges work in this area including the Seaspan Phoenix and Survivor, some of the last barges of that type to work the coast. Watching them in action is a special treat, not to be missed. The Saltair Community Centre is a hub for the community. Pease
Big Rock at Boulder Point Photo: Lori McCulloch Hummingbirds are regular visitors Photo: Rob Johnson Self-dumping log barge in the harbour Photo: Gerry Beltgens Sunny weather attracts gardening enthusiasts Photo: Rob Johnson Orcas visiting the harbour Photo: Shawn Wager Stocking Creek Park is a popular park with many trails Photo: Pam Mitchell Saltair Davis Lagoon showing its colours Photo: Susan Margetts
Explore Parks, Trails and Special Places Now more than ever before, people are turning to the great outdoors for recreation. This is the ideal physical distance activity. Plus it is good for your body and your soul. Enjoy some of the best walking, hiking and biking trails the Island has to offer.
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, where a stone-wall area has been built on the south trail to ensure safe viewing. Approximately 5.8 kilometres long, the trail has connectors on either end if you wish to make the walk more challenging. One of the reasons the trail is so popular is that parts of it are suitable for different fitness levels from the well-groomed path with some sections wheelchair accessible on the north side Watching wildlife Photo: Ken Plant Rowing at Ladysmith Harbour Photo: Jason Keel Forested trails Photo: Angie Haslam Bird watching. Photo: Bruce Whittington Nanaimo Estuary Photo: Marina Sacht Kayak rentals Transfer Beach. Photo: Cindy Damphousse
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. Holland Creek is a fish-spawning creek where salmon return every year and a popular spot for locals. Branching out from the Holland Creek Trail are several other trails. Rotary Lookout Trail is a short 1.2-kilometre walk, which is accessed close to the log bridge on the Holland Creek Trail. Estuary Trail, a part of the Holland Creek Trail, can be found at King Road and is a short ten-minute walk along the edge of Ladysmith Harbour to Transfer Beach Park. Heart Lake Loop Trail is a challenging 6.4-kilometre hike that takes about two hours but rewards you with a panoramic view of the ocean and Islands. You can fish or swim in Heart Lake. Stocking Lake Loop is a 9.3-kilometre trail that begins at Davis Road Park and takes about 2.5 to three hours to complete. Marine Walk can be accessed from the Fishermenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wharf, Ladysmith Community 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. Remnants of the old pier are still visible at low tide along the shore. The section between Fishermanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wharf and the Ladysmith Community Marina follows an old railway track used to bring in coal from Extension Mines. Gourlay-Janes Park, off Chemainus Road, is just a short walk through the woods to the ocean and has an off-leash park.
In Saltair: Saltair Centennial Park is located on South Oyster School Road. 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. Its many meandering trails through the rain forest to the creek and falls make Stocking Creek Park the perfect place for a nature walk. The Cowichan Valley Trail 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 Rail with Trail starts at North Watts Road and goes to Chemainus. This is a section of the Cowichan Valley Trail that once completed will be a continuous 120-kilometre non-motorized multi-use trail. The 4.3 km Saltair Rail with Trail opened in 2019, connecting the communities of Ladysmith, Saltair and Chemainus with a threemetre wide compacted gravel surface that is gently-graded and suitable for walking, cycling and equestrian use. The trail includes a single span bridge crossing Stocking Creek and scenic views of
View from Elliots Beach Park Photo: Marina Sacht Amphitheatre at Transfer Beach Park Photo: Cindy Damphousse
Mount Brenton and the Gulf Islands. Side trips into Stocking Creek Park and its waterfall are readily accessible from here. 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.
In Chemainus: â&#x20AC;˘ Askew Creek Wilderness Trail, with access from Oak Street, is an eight-kilometre trail system that the whole family can enjoy.
In the communities of Cedar, Yellow Point, and south Nanaimo: Blue Heron Park is on Westby Road, off Yellow Point Road. Beautiful sandstone beach, restrooms, and a picnic area make this a popular spot. Cable Bay Nature Trail can be reached by taking Holden-Corso Road to Nicola Road. Park 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 and find sea lions. This is an off-leash trail. Elliots Beach Park on Elliot Way, off Shell Beach Road, is a beach park with picnicking, swimming, snorkelling, and kayaking. This is a popular spot on a sunny day. Extension Ridge Trail is part of the Trans-Canada Trail system. It offers stunning views of the Strait of Georgia. The 8.9 km moderately trafficked 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 seemingly bottomless fissure in the earth. Known to locals as The Abyss, Extension Ridge â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a 4.5km section is a playground for mountain bikers, hikers and dog walkers alike. Haslam Creek Trail and Suspension Bridge to Spruston Road is part of the Trans-Canada 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 with an old rail grade that was used to move coal during the early 20th Century. See the historic Morden Tipple and headframe being restored, 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 and a day-use area, picnicking, fishing, biking and hiking. 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. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching.
Outdoor opportunities lie north of Ladysmith. Follow Christie Road until it turns to a logging road and winds deep into the backcountry. Visit the Bush Creek Hatchery, operated by Ladysmith Sportsmen Club members for the past 30 years. Members are usually there Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Please observe COVID protocols of social distancing if approaching volunteers. The gravel road leads to Holland Lake, 2.5 kilometres, a part of Ladysmith’s water supply and a protected area. Timberland and Cassidy offer back roads that access several lakes for wilderness outdoor adventure.
The Fun Never Stops For outdoor fun, you’ve come to the right area. With proximity to four golf courses, you’re minutes away from swinging your personal best. 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. Check for operation hours that may change due to COVID. 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 a switchback installed a few years ago offers a more civilized route. Our community is truly blessed with an abundance of outdoor activities. So grab your hiking boots, and make a safety plan before setting out to explore nature’s playground. Sweeping views reward hikers Photo: Malcolm Sacht Find your peaceful feeling on a forest trail Photo: Brianna Kennedy
Adventures on the Water Large tracts of pristine shoreline and six small islands rich in history 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. This is a beautiful island that has a diverse ecosystem. Beyond the inner harbour, Evening Cove and Elliot’s Beach Park offer a reprieve from the more open waters of the Stuart Channel. Watch for friendly harbour seals, sea lions, river otters, sea stars and sea anemones. Up above, you may spot oystercatchers, ospreys, bald eagles and great blue herons. Foraging along the shore are deer and raccoons. Boulder Point is a landmark nearby visited by the occasional pod of orca whales. Two favourite local launch sites, Transfer Beach and Fisherman’s wharf, are easy to access. Parking is free and each facility provides additional resources, including washrooms. 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 operators such as Wildheart Kayaking. A paddler’s paradise, Ladysmith’s inner harbour is the perfect location to get practice finding your perfect stroke. - Sheryll Bell, Sealegs Kayaking Adventures
Boating community There’s a large boating community in the four marinas located in Ladysmith Harbour. The working inner harbour has two sawmills. The boom boats push bundles of logs while seals laze on the
booms. Further down the bay, you will see large piles of oyster shells used to re-seed the oyster beds. There is a long history of oyster farmers with some of the pioneers’ descendants still supplying oysters. Boat launches are available at Ladysmith Fisherman’s Wharf, Cedar by the Sea, and Chemainus Kin Beach Park. There is a fuel dock in Chemainus. There are extensive walking trails along the waterfront with easy access to downtown. Watch for osprey and bald eagle nests. Quennell Lake Photo: Deborah Scott
Ladysmith Community Marina Ladysmith Community Marina is known as the friendliest marina on the coast. Just a ten-minute walk from downtown shops or Transfer Beach Park, it’s located in the future Art & Heritage Hub for the Town of Ladysmith. The marina offers permanent and guest moorage for travelling boaters and hosts several rendezvous. Operated by the Ladysmith Maritime Society, the community marina offers heritage and hospitality. Whether arriving by water or land, visitors can enjoy many amenities.
The beautiful Welcome Centre offers a fireside lounge, meeting rooms, washrooms, showers, laundry facility and a pump-out service. Just south of the Welcome Centre, the Sea Life Centre houses displays, touch tanks and a viewing portal on the floor. Here you can learn about local sea stars, mussels, oysters, sea-grasses and how our ancestors used our ocean’s resources. One of the must-do attractions is a guided harbour tour aboard the restored lifeboat Maritimer. Thousands of people have enjoyed the 90-minute cruise, listening to stories and viewing wildlife. This is a familyfriendly event operating daily in the summer. Check for operation depending on current COVID health orders. A paddling centre houses the Dragon Boat and kayaks and is a convenient place to launch from. And while you are admiring the beautiful boats make sure you look up. You’ll see nest boxes — part of the largest recovery colony of Western Blue Martins. You can watch the chicks with the webcam, located just past the Welcome Centre. During the summer, Heritage Boat Festival, Kid’s Pirate Day and the Sea Life Festival are held here, as well as Dine at the Docks, Music on the Dock and more. The Oyster Bay Café is open for snacks. While COVID safety protocols are in place, it is wise to check for
any operation changes before attending. You will find plenty of “Heritage by the Sea” at the award-winning floating Maritime Museum and the Bill Adair boathouse, where the Songbird and Saravan are moored. These beauties are two of several restored vessels. The C.A. Kirkegaard is currently undergoing an extensive renovation by volunteers whose work preserves our maritime history. Visit them at their Wednesday work party held at the Boat Repair Building at the former Comox Logging & Rail Co grounds. Visit www.lmsmarina.ca for details. Ladysmith Community Marina Heritage boats at the LMS wharf. Photos: Marina Sacht
Hometown Heritage destination BY QUENTIN GOODBODY
For the foreseeable future, international travel is off the cards because of COVID-19. While lying on a tropical beach may not be possible, you can, however, still experience different cultures, try exotic foods and glimpse unfamiliar history right here on your doorstep! Ladysmith is a destination not just because of the yummy cinnamon buns at the bakery, but because it is a place of great natural beauty, steeped in arts and heritage and with abundant opportunity to enjoy the outdoors — in the woods or on the water. The Ladysmith district has an eons-long history as the territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation, whose way of life centred around the harbour and its abundant natural resources. The arrival of farmer settlers in the 1860s, the completion of the E&N Railway in 1886 and the discovery of coal at nearby Extension in 1895 led to the establishment of the planned town of Ladysmith by 1900. A boom followed with construction of houses, stores, opera and movie halls, hotels and boarding houses. Huge coal bunkers, loading wharves, a copper smelter, iron foundry and shingle mill were located on the harbour front. Immigrants came from a wide variety of backgrounds — European, Asian, American, and so on. Individual cultural heritages were proudly adhered to but under the umbrella of the British Empire. Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd., as the main employer, also imparted a strong influence. Failure of the copper mines, labour unrest, the First World War and the Great Depression tempered growth, but ultimately the replacement of coal with oil and the closure of the Extension Mines in 1931 led to the near death of the town. Then in 1935, Comox Logging and Railway Company moved its centre of operations to Ladysmith and, by 1944, was employing more than 600 people, had constructed a state-of-the-art operations depot and log dump at the harbour and had built a railway to the falling grounds at Nanai-
Steam Loci 11 Photo: Ladysmith Archives Salish Wind canoe Photo: Bob Burgess Wood carver at Transfer Beach Park. Photo: Marina Sacht Local made pottery Photo: Nick Longp Traditional crafts Photo: Val Galvin Restored boxcar Photo: Marina Sacht
mo Lakes; these remained in operation until 1985. Ladysmith had become a lumber town. Today, with two active sawmills, the forestry industry remains important; the town’s economic base has broadened to include tourism, agriculture, the film industry, retail outlets and services. Better roads facilitate commuting to Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo. One of the fastest growing municipalities in the province, attracting young professionals and retirees, Ladysmith has retained its smalltown charm and community warmth. Much of the rich history is still evident. Take a stroll along First Avenue and enjoy not only what the stores and restaurants have to offer, but also the enriching heritage buildings and historic artefacts — refer to the online Community Heritage Register and the Heritage App for their individual histories. Drop in to the Ladysmith Museum (admission by donation) for engaging heritage displays and a friendly welcome. Go down to the harbour. Visit Transfer Beach Park, which a hundred years ago was the centre of the coal port, with huge bunkers, vast wharves, shrieking steam engines and clattering coal, and is now a haven of tranquility, with beautiful vistas, children’s playground and an open-air amphitheatre for summer concerts. Stroll the paths along Oyster Bay Drive and visit the volunteer-run Community Marina, with its Oyster Bay Café, heritage wooden boats, floating museum and sea life displays. Climb the steps to see the Comox Logging Depot, still with its railway tracks, heritage buildings and enormous steam engine — all soon to be incorporated into the Arts and Heritage Hub. A stroll through the cemetery on the north end of town will reward history buffs with poignant markers paying tribute to victims of mine disasters, train accidents and labour unrest — a sad testament to difficult times. Ladysmith has a lot to offer to people of all ages. Explore and enjoy!
Chemainus Located at Waterwheel Park, the Chemainus Valley Museum has undergone a major expansion and now offers more exhibits. Social distancing practices and one-way flow through the museum is in place.
Let’s get creative!
This area is home to many performers, artisans and internationally-acclaimed artists such as Stz’uminus carvers John and Luke Marston. John (Qap’u’luq) carves according to Coast Salish traditions. Marston learned primarily from watching his parents (Jane and David Marston, both accomplished carvers), as well as renowned Cowichan Tribes master carver Simon Charlie. Marston is active in his community, initiating public artworks involving students and staff at local schools. An awe-inspiring example is on display at the
entrance of the Ladysmith Secondary School. Marston was honoured with the BC Creative Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art in 2009. He has pieces on permanent display at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, both Vancouver and Nanaimo airports, the Vancouver Convention Centre, CFB Esquimalt, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Hockey fans will get a chance to see some of Luke’s work in the new goalie masks for the Canucks that he helped design. Several renowned artists work here. Potter Mary Fox who recent-
ly published a beautifully illustrated coffee table book, painter Michael Dean who has an incredible eye for marine and heritage, and glass-maker Ted Jolda whose glass pears were featured by Oprah, these are just some of the artists that you can visit in their studios. The Cedar Yellow Point Artisans hold a popular Christmas Tour in November, as well as a self-guided tour in the summer. For more information and maps, visit www.cyartisans. com. Saltair is home to the Chemainus Sketch Group and Saltair Quilters, which operate out of the Saltair Community Centre. The Rainforest Gallery on Willow Street in Chemainus features local artists’ work and is run by the non-profit Chemainus Valley Cultural Centre Society. The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery operated by the Ladysmith Arts Council houses working studios, classes and monthly exhibits along with special events. The gallery has been relocated to its temporary home at 444 Parkhill Terrace while the former Comox Logging & Railway building on Oyster Bay Drive gets renovated. Fondly known by locals as the “old Machine Shop,” it will be the heart of a new arts and heritage hub at Ladysmith’s waterfront. Arts on the Avenue is a street festival attracting thousands of people to admire and buy from top-rated artists and artisans. The art festival normally takes place in late August, in downtown Ladysmith. This is a fun all-day event with entertainment, demos and art. A Light Up the Night market is held the day before. Although the Arts festival was cancelled due to COVID health regulations in 2020, but may return in 2021. Check with organizers to confirm before attending. firstname.lastname@example.org
Go live! with Performing Arts The pandemic has hit the performing arts harder than most groups, causing the curtain to fall early on many live performances. Ladysmith Little Theatre, located at 4985 Christie Road, offers cabaret-style seating with refreshments. The theatre is located in the former old Diamond School House built in 1912 as a one-room school. An additional room was added sometime during the fifties. Volunteers converted the building to a popular intimate venue. An improv group operates here as well. Responding to COVID, the LLT has released a series of short radio plays that can be listened to from your home. For a link to the shows visit their website. It’s a real show of the theatre’s ingenuity and resilience in bringing shows to the people. https://www.ladysmiththeatre.com/ The Yellow Point Drama Group has been entertaining the community for over half a century and is the second oldest drama group in the province. The group was started in the early 1950s by Anne Mossman. The amateur troupe went on to officially form Yellow Point Drama Group in 1953 and, in the years since, has won 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 and a summer program, as well as a restaurant, gallery and 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. Please visit their website for COVID news regarding their show season. Performers at Ladysmith Little Theatre Photo: submitted
Economic Recovery – post COVID BY MARINA SACHT
As the pandemic’s end nears, the economy is on most people’s minds. COVID-19 saw the temporary closure or disruption of retail and service businesses, government offices and education institutions. For many residents, it meant missing out on social gatherings while the curtain stayed down on live performances. Our community is known for a multitude of live event and festivals, from art and car shows to such beloved festivals as Ladysmith Days and Light Up, and as we await the vaccines, we look forward to the return of those activities in the future — even if some may be coming back in a modified form. In the meantime, while continuing to observe protocols, our business community is hard at work, and in some cases — even thriving. Here, concerns about affordable housing, homelessness and the opioid crisis, and climate change underscore the value our residents place on caring for each other and the planet. The year 2020 may not have been our best year, but it may well have been one of our finest as we came together individually and as a community to meet the challenges we faced. “I think everybody has had challenges, though in different ways,” says Mark Drysdale, Executive Director of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce. “Whether it’s staffing, supply, or a lack of sales.” Although some businesses have done relatively well, others are barely hanging in there. “It’s a mixed bag, but I think across the board, people are ready to have this nonsense behind us.” Indeed, during the pandemic, there have been no closures, like in some other communities, a number of new retailers have opened and some businesses, such as Ironworks Creperie, have expanded, opening in more locations. The Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Ladysmith are supporting the community with several initiatives, from beautifying the downtown core by adding lighting and outdoor tables to late summer shopping and the launch of a new Invest Ladysmith and tourism website, with a new walking app. They were able to pivot that Relaxing at the Crow and Gate Pub’s garden Quiet roads to explore by motorbike or bicycle Saltair Gardening Club volunteers at Queen’s Park, Ladysmith Photos: Marina Sacht Residents enjoy an outdoor lifestyle Photo: Sue LaBine
website to a one-stop resource for the community to go and see what was happening in terms of COVID and what businesses were open, explained Drysdale. A new Chamber lead marketing campaign designed along the lines of “Locals Love Ladysmith” will support recovery. Initial focus will be local and eventually become regional. “Once COVID is behind us, the economy is going to just explode because people are so sick and tired of being cooped up and not being able to shop, not being able to eat out, not being able to do all of these things. That is a kind of a normal part of our lives, and once we’re allowed to do it again, it’s going to go bonkers. The next year or two or three after that are going to be just banner years,” says Drysdale. There’s more good news with one of Ladysmith’s number one financial institution. “We’re doing just excellent,” says John de Leeuw, CEO of Ladysmith & District Credit Union (LDCU). “We are probably having our best year in our history financially.” Normally in a pandemic, you would plan for slowing or negative asset growth, a tighter financial margin, minimal or negative loan growth and, most definitely, higher delinquency. “And I can tell you unequivocally, none of that happened.” One of the reasons is significant government intervention, which has created immense liquidity. People are saving more money than ever before. The biggest surprise lately is the housing market in Ladysmith. Houses are selling in a day with multiple offers for more than list price, and developers can’t build houses fast enough. Consumer demand is high, and buyers are snapping up well-priced properties quickly once they hit the market,” says Vancouver Island Real Estate Board President Kevin Reid. Cowichan Valley unit sales increased in 2020 by 14.73 per cent from 2019, with the average sale price rising 8.81 per cent in 2020 to $571,578 . “Our best loan growth year
was in 2016, and we grew by $12.5 million. It appears that in 2020, we will grow by close to $22 million. In a pandemic, it’s unbelievable,” says de Leeuw. “Our entire asset base is up. We are now just shy of $285 million of assets under administration. We have had a phenomenal year, all aspects of our organization, group assets, deposits, loans. And at the same time, we’re doing it all with probably the best year of operating income that we’ve had in our history.” The LDCU is one of the few independent credit unions in BC. It has a long history in Ladysmith, going back 77 years. The support they receive from the community is channelled back via donations, sponsorships and bursaries. “The social responsibility that we have is embedded in the fabric of this credit union. And I think that’s a contributor to our success. I can’t quantify that, but I can look at what we’ve done in the community over the years and see our ability to maintain our independence and remain financially sound and continue to grow,” says de Leeuw. “I can safely say that in the last fifteen years, we’ve given well over a million dollars in donations and sponsorships to our community. And that’s important to us. The residents’ support allows us to support our community. And that’s why our taglines say, ‘Our Community. Your Credit Union.’” Looking to the future post-pandemic, de Leeuw expects that interest rates will remain low. The housing market is going to remain very strong, fuelled by provincial and interprovincial migration to Vancouver Island in the next three years, due to the Island’s weather, lifestyle, comparatively low real estate prices and the way it has handled the pandemic. “Ladysmith is centrally located. We are a convenient distance from Nanaimo or Victoria, from ferries, from airports. I project, we definitely have three to five more years of good solid growth, as long as we don’t have too much bureaucracy and prices remain stable,” says de Leeuw. Ladysmith is among the most businessfriendly in the province, with the only local government in central and south Vancouver Island to be named a finalist in the 2019 Open for Business Awards. Indeed, Ladysmith offers multiple tax incentives and economic revitalization programs and services for small business owners. While it remains to be seen what and how quick the effect of the vaccine will have on the economic recovery. “I think we’ll find our equilibrium and find what the new normal looks like,” says deLeeuw.
A Green Economic Recovery BY GUY DAUNCEY
A green recovery! But wait – why green? At such a time of crisis, shouldn’t any kind of recovery be welcome? The argument for a green recovery is that while the dangers from COVID are clear and immediate, lurking in the wings are other crises some of which hold just as much danger – the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, the affordable housing crisis, and the low-income debt crisis, which is placing people in miserable poverty. Let’s not rebuild more of the same. Let’s build a green, socially just, circular economy. Let’s build economics of kindness. Food and Farming It might seem that the Cowichan Valley is already a food-producing Shangri-La, overflowing with fresh greens, kombucha and duck eggs. Appearances can be deceptive, however. By far, the greatest part of our food still arrives on the ferry, and the deer’s share of our farmland is growing hay, or nothing at all. There is so much more that we could do to encourage local agriculture and enable more people to earn a good living from the land. A Cowichan Regional Growers Cooperative with thousands of members could assist many more farmers to earn a good living while helping the farmers with pest problems, food distribution, and value-added farm businesses. Ecological Restoration A green economy must be ecologically regenerative, restoring Nature’s Economy alongside our own. We need to identify every local area that needs restoration, form partnerships with landowners large and small, including Mosaic and Western Forest Products, find the recovery funds to hire and train a host of young people, and use the skills of ecological restoration elders like Dave Polster to show us how it should be done, both on land and in rivers, lakes and estuaries. New Businesses and Cooperatives in a Circular Economy A vibrant green economy should be constantly generating new businesses, both private and cooperative. The failure rate for new businesses is sadly high – but when start-ups are supported by community economic organizations that provide training and peer-support the failure rate falls quite dramatically. At the same time, we should encourage all new businesses to become part of a circular
Mountain and ocean views. Photo: Chris Burgess Opposite page: Ladysmith looking towards Transfer Beach Photo: Gerry Beltgens
economy, generating zero landfill waste and recycling what they do waste into new materials for re-use in the economy, following the Synergy Foundation’s leadership. A Framework for Development – The Doughnut Economy We need more than a shopping list of projects: we need a new framework to support the new economy. The old framework based on free-market economics is one of the causes of our many problems. It ignores nature, ignores homelessness, ignores poverty, and ignores the realities of power. The free market in housing has created spiralling housing price inflation alongside homelessness and unaffordable rents. We have to do better. We need a market economy, but we need it to be a socially responsible market economy, rather than a selfish market economy, in which the only assumed purpose of business is to make money, regardless of the social and ecological costs. Kate Raworth is a British economist whose book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a Twenty-First Century Economist has been causing a stir around the world. Her framework for economic development is like a doughnut, where the outer edge is the ecological ceiling, beyond which lie all sorts of ecological dangers, and the inner edge is the social foundation, which people enables people to live in dignity and not in want. ‘The safe and just space for humanity’ lies within the doughnut. The City of Nanaimo recently adopted this framework for its development, joining Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Brussels and other cities. A Partnership to Get Things Started The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Cowichan has already started in this direction, partnering in a Lunch n’ Learn with the Synergy Foundation to explore the circular economy. To further advance the ideas above, maybe they could develop this one event into a series, steadily increasing their outreach to other players in our community? The pandemic has many awful downsides, but there is one upside, which is that with everyone staying close to home, it is much easier to organize meetings of this kind.
projects and partnerships have helped ensure our community’s history is kept alive for future generations. Ladysmith is a community that leads through continuous improvement and innovation.
Guy Dauncey is President of the Yellow Point Ecological Society, and author of the forthcoming book on The Economics of Kindness: The Birth of a New Cooperative Economy. You can find his work at www. thepracticalutopian.ca.
Work & Live in Ladysmith
Ladysmith is located in a highly desirable location on southern Vancouver Island. Its mild climate and proximity to major urban centres and transportation networks make it a natural choice for businesses seeking a high quality of life in a well-connected, strategic location. Ladysmith boasts an impressive number of ways that residents of all ages can get involved in the community. Whether you’re looking to volunteer with a service club or join a support group, church, recreation or cultural organization, there’s probably a group for you. Known for its abundance of community pride and spirit, Ladysmith offers a wealth of support services for residents of all ages, from infants to seniors. The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association is a leading agency for connecting residents to programs and services. The Town of Ladysmith has developed strong relationships with the Stz’uminus First Nation and the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group. This cooperation will bring more opportunities to ensure the continued prosperity and well-being of all people living in this region. A new waterfront plan, including an Arts and Heritage Hub, is being developed with exciting opportunities for the future. Protecting and preserving Ladysmith’s long and rich heritage is a priority. Several www.take5.ca 47
Life is good here. Residents enjoy outdoor activities and a vibrant arts community. Families find support with groups such as LaFF. The schools enjoy a higher than average graduation rate. Seniors play an active role here, volunteering at many special events. Here’s a quick guide to help you find services in the area.
RDN • www.rdn.bc.ca Regional Transit provides both regular transit and HandyDART custom transit service to Cedar and area. Information Line for Transit Nanaimo Area: 250 390-4531 HandyDART Nanaimo Area: 250 390-3000 RDN Garbage and Recycling www.nanaimo.ca City of Nanaimo Garbage and Recycling 250 755-5222, RDN Waste Services, 1-866-999-8227. Regional Landfill: 1105 Cedar Road, Nanaimo 250 722-2044. MonSun: 8am-5pm. Closed holidays.
NCID • www.ncid.bc.ca Services the area with fire protection, water, street lighting and issues burn permits. 2100 Yellow Point Road 250 722-3711
CVRD • www.cvrd.bc.ca The CVRD services Cobble Hill to Ladysmith, including Area G and H. Services provided by the CVRD can be accessed through their website. 175 Ingram Street, Duncan BC 250 746-2500
District of North Cowichan • www.northcowichan.bc.ca The municipality is responsible for all Chemainus’ services.7330 TCH, P.O. Box 278, Duncan, BC V9L 3X4 250 746-3100 email@example.com BC Transit operates service into Chemainus and can be reached at 250 746-9899 or www.bctransit.com/regions/com
Town of Ladysmith • www.ladysmith.ca Council meetings on the first and third Tuesday of each month. BC Transit operates service into Ladysmith and can be reached at 250 746-9899 or visit www.bctransit.com/regions/com Garbage Pick-up/Recycling and Organic Waste information and schedules can be reviewed at town web site or call 250 245-6400. For a complete listing of churches, clubs, schools and community resources, please your local Chamber of Commerce or take5.ca A favourite family outing is Transfer Beach Park, known as the pearl of Ladysmith. Photo: Marina Sacht