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Looking back at Ladysmith Centennial Year

Happy 110, Ladysmith!

Looking back 10 years ago at the Centennial Year

 By ROB JOHNSON

Where were you 10 years ago?

Chances are you were at one of the many Centennial events and projects that were hosted that year!

June 4, 2004 marked the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Ladysmith. To mark this occasion the Town celebrated with a year of events, activities, and projects – many have left a legacy that we still enjoy today. On June 4 people gathered in front of the Ladysmith Library on First Avenue for the formal celebration with cake cutting and speeches. Many expressed their pride in our community. Terry Boyle, a Ladysmith Secondary School teacher, and a group of his students entertained the crowd with his award winning song ‘Ladysmith”. Idonna Tollefson presented a Centennial Quilt that she spent hours crafting for the Town. Special guests attended, including the mayor of the Garden Island City of Samal in the Philippines, a community that the Town of Ladysmith was in partnership with to help improve the quality of life.

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The Centennial year started in the fall of 2003 when dozens of local school students participated in planting 7000 daffodil bulbs that would bloom as a start to the year. On New Year’s Eve the Centennial Committee held a costumed dance and on January 1 a special, larger than normal polar bear swim was the official start to the year. Over the year events included distributing 100 cameras to the public and asking them to take photographs of all the events to create a record of 2000 photos. Along with the Centennial song writing contest, a competition was held for a $10,000 award to create a commemorative work of art. The three dimensional mural of the four stages in the evolution of the community over the past 100 years is located in the stairwell at the Frank Jameson Community Centre. Also at the centre is a safe containing a time capsule that was filled with artefacts and materials of the day.

The year was filled with musical events by visiting performing groups such a troop of Ukrainian dancers from Edmonton, the Summer Youth Pops Symphony from Vancouver, and RCN Naden Concert Band.

The sports field up at Ladysmith Secondary School was used for a variety of events. At one point it was the back drop for a photograph of all the high school students and teachers spelling out LSS and it was also used to hold every student in Ladysmith in a classic aerial photo with the students lined to spell out LADYSMITH 1904-2004. A month or so later it hosted a open giant market with close to 100 vendors, and the other sports field became an entertainment centre for marching bands and dancers. Heavy rains didn’t dampen the mood and the entertainment moved inside the Frank Jameson Community Centre where Philipino dancers, Norwegian dancers and local singers continued to entertain.

 Everyone in town was invited to the Amphitheatre to take part in a community photo. The day included live entertainment and a spectacular fly past by numerous air craft including a planned 100 plane flyby. Earlier in the year the Snow Birds also did a flyby.

For water recreationists, the Mt. Brenton Power Squadron marked the 49th Parallel with signage. Today it is a site of many photo ops.

Two of the more spectacular events were the Tribal Journey, where more than a dozen First Nations canoes visited Transfer Beach. This event helped open the doors for fostering a spirit of co-operation between the Town and our First Nations neighbours. The second was Fanfare and Fire Bells. Ladysmith Fire and Rescue, in conjunction with our local detachment of the RCMP, brought this event to Ladysmith featuring dozens of vintage fire trucks and police cars. There was a separate parade through town and numerous events, and activities held at the Amphitheatre with a water bomber, and search and rescue vessels. They put on a fantastic show for the people of Ladysmith.

The Centennial Committee had a grant from the Town of $30,000 but received some donations including free office space from the Ladysmith & District Credit Union. The committee was able to purchase a permanent $10,000 piece of public art and an award winning Centennial Book ‘Ladysmith 100 Years’, produced by TAKE 5 was given to every household in Ladysmith with a total value of some $50,000. The book is still for sale with all proceeds going to the Ladysmith Museum. The local service clubs worked together and constructed the wonderful water spray park at Transfer Beach Park with an estimated value of $250,000. The Native Daughters compiled and produced a Centennial cookbook. The Ladysmith Fishermen’s Wharf Association in partnership with the federal government spent well over $100,000 for the building at the boat basin that houses washrooms, laundry and the wharfinger’s office.

Now it is 10 years later. Many have kept their centennial books, t-shirts, bumper stickers, commemorative posters, pins or an envelope with the postmark issued by Canada Post. Many of us enjoy the amenities and facilities that were initiated and fostered during this period. Today the Ladysmith Archives still has the centennial committee’s phone number, 250-245-0100 and is a major research centre.

As we look back at the Centennial and on June 4 celebrate the Town’s 110th year, we are reminded of what can happen when the community and the Town “Join the Party”. The level of civic pride and the legacy continue. Who knows what adventure awaits in the next 10 years?

About the author: Allen McDermid

Most people know Allen as the Vacation Guide coordinator. She also handles all our special projects.

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