Kayaking by Lasqueti Island Photo Courtesy Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism header
Ladysmith is located in the beautiful Cowichan Valley and has won many beauty awards over the years, so a visit to this town will make you smile. With turn-of-the-century Edwardian architecture that has been preserved you can follow the Heritage Walk Route along award-winning First Avenue for a look at the turn-of-the century buildings and enjoy the quaint boutiques and cafes. Located near Ladysmith Harbour, Transfer Beach is a popular destination with kayaking, swimming, picnicking, and more. The Waterfront Art Gallery is located nearby. Explore the many wineries, cidery, craft beers and distilled beverages that are made in the Cowichan region and sample some culinary delights all farmed locally. If you like a good walk or hike, Holland Creek Trails are suitable for all abilities. Waterfalls, forests and lookouts provide lots to see along the way and in October salmon spawn in the creeks.
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 a 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.