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Historic downtown Ladysmith

Historic downtown Ladysmith

Outdoor chess anyone?

Outdoor chess anyone?


Ladysmith is situated on the 49th Parallel in the beautiful Cowichan Valley. Tucked in at the base of hillsides and fronted by the Ladysmith Harbour, our historic town is a sought-after place to live, work and play. Ladysmith retains its small town charm while offering a full complement of services and amenities.

The Mediterranean-like climate features mild winters and warm summers allowing for plenty of outdoor activities. For the arts minded the town has a thriving arts community as well as delightful festivals and events such as the famous Festival of Lights where thousands come from all over to kick off the Christmas season.

Here all-weather fun is year-round. The beautiful Holland Creek runs through the town and it’s trails are widely used year round. Geo-caching, dog walking, jogging or walking, the trail offers a variety of experiences for all fitness levels. The breathtaking Crystal Falls are well worth the hike. Indoors the Frank Jameson Community Centre houses a well-equipped gym, swimming pool, sauna and hot tub facilities. Drop in fitness classes are available or drop in for a friendly game of pickle ball.

Ladysmith is unique amongst the communities on Vancouver Island as it was designed as a “company” town by its founder James Dunsmuir. In 1897, when the seams where depleted in Nanaimo’s coal mines, Dunsmuir, the province’s wealthiest man, wanted to re-locate the miners and their families for 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 hotels, churches and business blocks that you can still see today.

Originally named Oyster Harbour, Ladysmith Harbour has always been an oyster growing area going back to 1884. Today you can still purchase fresh oysters from Ladysmith Harbour at Timothy Oysters and Limberis Seafood.

It was 100 years ago that the City of Ladysmith was shaken to its core with an outbreak of violence that resulted from the Great Vancouver Island Coal Strike. In September of 1912, the Great Strike broke out, and the miners of Ladysmith joined in. The strike would not end until the start of World War I. Violence broke out in August 1913 resulting in the militia being called in.

Visitors often ask how Ladysmith got its name. During the Boer War, on March 1, 1900, the British troops under General Buller broke the four month siege of Ladysmith, South Africa. Upon hearing the good news Dunsmuir decided to name his new community Ladysmith. The streets crossing First Avenue are all named after Generals who fought in the Boer War.

Ladysmith is where heritage meets the sea. With its historic waterfront still showing remains of its early mining days,and a heritage downtown, you’ll find a bit of history around every corner. To learn more visit the Ladysmith Archives, 250 245-0100. They have artifacts and thousands of photos in their collection.

Historic Downtown Ladysmith, one block off the Island Highway, has a medley of independent businesses mostly in revitalized heritage buildings offering everything from pet supplies to designer fashions. Our area is a mecca for antiques. Expect to find small and interesting shops and galleries with an endless array of great finds; no huge malls and big box stores here! South of the town centre and just off the Island Highway, is Coronation Mall.

Ladysmith like its home town famous actress Pamela Anderson is recognized for its beauty and charm. In the past it has been named “one of the 10 prettiest towns in Canada” by Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine, and won first place for the national ”Communities in Bloom”.

Ladysmith is a “green“ community and has taken a number of initiatives to ensure sustainable development. The town’s organic waste collection was one of the first in BC. Visitors will see vegetables and herbs growing in the flower beds around City Hall. The food is distributed to the community.

Combining old world charm with friendly locals, your visit will make for stories to be told back home.

 View PHOTO ALBUM here


1 comment

  1. Sylvia says:

    I love to hear this history – it is very unique to think of the buildings being freighted down! It is not the only company town on Vancouver Island, of that era, though, even if you define it as a purpose-built town. Cumberland, and the now long gone communities of Bevan, No. 8, and so on were coal towns with housing built for miners. More recently, Woss is an example of a forestry related company town. There are fishing related communities, too, which were established by packing companies.

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