In 1884, James Dunsmuir, the owner of the Wellington Colliery Company, was given a land grant from E&N Railway, privatizing the land which would eventually become Ladysmith. The community he founded in 1899 was originally known as Oyster Harbour, and served as a company town for miners. Coal bunkers and wharves dominated the waterfront, while homes and businesses were built on the hillside.
When Dunsmuir received word on March 1, 1900 that the British forces had finally relieved their besieged countrymen in Ladysmith, in the Natal Province of South Africa, he renamed the new town Ladysmith and many local streets were named after British Generals who served in the Anglo Boer War.
In 1904 the town was incorporated and the new community, fueled by the strong demand for coal, grew quickly. After the Great Depression however, the town slowly transformed into the centre of major logging operations that extended as far as the Nanaimo Lakes region and which employed as many as 700 men. Since then, logging and milling lumber have continued to play an important role in the town's economic development.
Today, Ladysmith's turn-of-the-century Edwardian architecture and history has been preserved and tours are available for visitors. Ladysmith has won many beauty awards over the years.
Ladysmith is located 28 km (17 mi) south of Nanaimo and 23 km (14 mi) north of Duncan on the Trans Canada Highway 1.
Located near Ladysmith Harbour, Transfer Beach is a popular destination for locals and visitors. Kayaking, swimming, picnicking, spray park and playground plus a 1,000-seat amphitheatre are just some of the actrivities and facilities available. The Waterfront Art Gallery is located nearby.
Follow the Heritage Walk/Heritage Artifacts Route along award-winning First Avenue for a look at the turn-of-the century buildings. Enjoy the quaint boutiques and cafes and stop by the Ladysmith Museum for a glimpse of the past. Tour maps are available at the Visitor Centre.
Holland Creek Trails are suitable for all abilities. Waterfalls, forests and lookouts provide lots to see along the way. In October salmon spawn in the creeks.
Kayaking is a hugely popular sport in this area. Launch your kayak at Transfer Beach and paddle the protected waters around Ladysmith Harbour. This is also the gateway for kayaking trips.
The mild climate and long growing season in the Cowichan region have created an agriculturally rich community that produces high quality fruits and vegetables, specialty foods such as artisan cheeses, breads, vinegars, jams and jellies and more. With many first class chefs and wine makers now calling the area home it is becoming renowned as a vibrant wine and culinary destination. Some 20 wineries, cidery, craft beers and distilled beverages are made in the Cowichan region. Many are open to the public throughout the year for tastings and tours and some have restaurants. A Wine Islands Guide is available from a Visitor Centre.
The Ladysmith Golf Course is a 9-hole, par 27 course. There are also many golf courses within an hour's drive of Ladysmith. Courses range from family mini-golf to demanding 18-hole courses and many with stunning views.
The unique Boeing 737 Dive Site is located in Stuart Channel between Chemainus and Thetis Island. This unusual site has been decorated with First Nations artwork.
Ladysmith Visitor Centre
411B 1st Avenue
Ladysmith, BC V9G 1A4
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia