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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Heritage by the Sea!

I have to start the blog today by sharing a photo of Richard and our neighbour Jim (from Fernie B.C.) who is parked next to us (with his lovely wife Danielle), for the winter in Fanny Bay. Richard had a few Super bowl bets which he had to pay off and one of them was with Jim. Richard does not like Tom Brady despite the fact Brady now plays for our other home team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not liking Brady, Richard will always cheer for the other team, but his bets did not work out this year!

Jim looks pretty pleased with his winnings! Don’t go and spend it all in one place now Jim!!

This morning we headed out at 10:15am for Ladysmith, B.C. with the temperature at -1C, There was no frost on the car or ground though, despite the below freezing temperature.

As we were driving down to Ladysmith, which is about an hour and 10 minute drive down the big Hwy 19, we started to see snow flurries!

We had wanted to go to Ladysmith today as the rest of the week looked like it would be colder and there was a higher probability of snow later in the week.

When we told our neighbour Jim and former neighbour St. Stephen we were headed to Ladysmith, they both said “CINNAMON BUNS”! Hmm...I wonder why this town is known for its cinnamon buns! I guess we will have to see won’t we?

The famous old town bakery!

Fresh pies with lattice crusts being prepared in the front window of the bakery.

Inside the bakery.

Fresh pies and goodies!

old town bakery was established in 2002 and is owned and operated by Kate and Geoff Cram. In 2004 they were voted “Island’s Best Cinnamon Buns!” They have more than one flavour of cinnamon bun including: Cream Cheese & Sliced Almond, Blueberry Almond, Chocolate Pecan, Orange Poppy Seed, Blackberry Apricot Ginger, Peanut Butter Cream Cheese, Raisin Spice, and the flavour of the month!

Raisin Spice and Orange Poppy Seed found their way home with us today! We just tasted the Orange Poppy Seed and it was delicious!

Of course we also bought some other baked goods, so we will see how they compare to the Cumberland Bakery, which has been our favourite bakery so far! I think our time out here on the Island has turned into going for hikes, so we can justify trying out some new bakery in each town we stumble upon!

We walked up and down the historic downtown of Ladysmith which has a motto of ‘Heritage by the Sea’. The town of Ladysmith actually won an award for its Main Street in 1988 from The Heritage Canada Foundation for outstanding achievement in preserving the heritage of the town.

Colourful facades on the buildings in downtown Ladysmith, B.C.

Ladysmith was originally called ’Oyster Harbour’ and was founded in 1898 by the coal baron, James Dunsmuir, as a community for the coal miners who worked in Dunsmuir’s collieries at Extension, 17km to the northwest. The Town was incorporated in 1904 - like many other coal-mining towns, Ladysmith experienced an early period of rapid development and attracted people from around the globe.

Throughout the town of Ladysmith we found many historical artifacts displayed on the sidewalks with a little plaque beside them, explaining how the item was important to the heritage of the town.

Ore Hand Cart filled with actual ore mined from the Mt. Sticker mine which was built in 1902. The cart could be dumped from either side.

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Fordson Donkey which was used in rail logging to build and repair bridges. The donkey’s size, lent itself to be hauled on and off rail cars at work sites.

Caterpillar Tractor which dates back to the early 1930’s and was used by Crown Zellerbach’s Ladysmith operations.

Built in 1910 the Inn has been consistently used as an Inn since that time. I bet if the walls could talk in this building, there would be a lot of stories!

The Temperance Hotel which as the town rose to prominence, was the only hotel that did not serve alcohol. The hotel along with many other buildings on the Main Street were dismantled and relocated to Ladysmith from the communities of Wellington or Extension as the Dunsmuir coal business moved to Ladysmith.

All was not well in Ladysmith’s historical past though. While the early days were characterized by economic growth, there were a number of mining disasters at the Extension mine and a fire that in 1901 killed 16 men and an explosion in 1909 which killed another 32 men. There was also labour unrest which led to the “Great Strike” of 1912-1914, which coincided with an economic recession. The strikers fought for the right to unionize, and the strike was one of the longest in Canadian history. The strike divided the town and led to unheard of violence in the coal-mining communities, which only ended with the beginning of the First World War.

More historic buildings in Ladysmith, B.C.

We wandered into a second hand store just off the Main Street in Ladysmith to see if we could find a light fixture for the sunroom ceiling in Fort Erie.

Conversion piece bench?! We didn’t buy this even though it was kind of interesting.

A Hammond organ? I asked my son Josh what he thought and he said it was a good deal but he had no room for it in his house!

A sea captain with a peg leg. I really wanted to get this sea captain. The price at $169 was a bit outrageous though for this plastic piece. Richard tried to negotiate, but the owner wouldn’t budge on the price, so we didn’t buy it. I would have loved to have this back home in Fort Erie. Oh well...

We were getting kind of hungry so we walked up and down this hilly town and then decided that this little ’spoon’ of a restaurant with their very diverse menu looked like a good spot to stop for lunch.

An appropriate name for a restaurant - ‘Appetit’

Thai chicken, pineapple and vegetable curry on rice for Ruth.

Homemade bacon vegetable soup for Richard.

Pirogies with sausage, fried onion and mushroom for Richard.

Each meal came with a soup or a salad and for $29 including tip, this restaurant was a great find!

Interesting pattern in the sidewalk in Ladysmith, B.C.

After lunch we visited the most amazing kitchen store downtown Ladysmith called ‘The World’s Gourmet Kitchen Store’. I could have spent a lot of time and money in this store, but I came out with only a French rolling pin. I’ve always wanted a French rolling pin since there is so much more control when rolling out dough. So now I have one! I sense more homemade goodies in our future!

I had a call with my former work, so I wanted to get to a park where Richard would have somewhere to go, while I spoke on the phone. We found that across the Trans Canada highway from downtown Ladysmith, on the Ladysmith Harbour was a park called ‘Transfer Beach Park’. I wondered why the park was named ‘Transfer Beach’ since that is kind of an unusual name for a park.

Bundled up beach walkers in Transfer Beach Park, Ladysmith, B.C.

Ladysmith Harbour. Its February and this family is playing with a bucket and spade on the beach with their son. How cool is that?

These women were coming out of the water after swimming. UGH! The air temperature was only +1C so I could only imagine how cold the water was!

Transfer Beach dock was designed with a network of train tracks that allowed Mr Dunsmuir’s fully laden coal cars to be loaded directly onto barges, rather than being laboriously unloaded and turned around. Hence the name ‘Transfer Beach’. Transfer Beach Boasts the largest open air amphitheatre on Vancouver Island, which serves as a venue for Ladysmith’s Concerts in the Park series held every July and August.

As we hiked through the park we found some more interesting historical items of significance to the town of Ladysmith.

A Steam Donkey which was originally fueled with wood from the logging operations and created steam with water from nearby streams. The Steam Donkey represented a big improvement in logging power in the early 1900’s. The steam donkey signaled the end of the era when horses or oxen dragged logs over ‘skid roads’ constructed of small logs. Steam Donkey engines converted to oil fires remained in use as late as 1949.

During Ladysmiths’ heyday as a shipping port, rail cars would arrive at the waterfront and be weighted prior to shipping. This is all that remains today of the weighing mechanism which was located beneath the rail track adjacent to this spot. An operator would record the weight of each rail car passing through the weigh station.

We saw a trail which we thought was heading towards the Ladysmith Harbour and decided to walk down the path to see where it went.

One of the first ships we saw in the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina today was this fierce looking beast!

We watched this ’old timer’ row directly into the post behind him. He was not watching where he was going. It was kind of funny actually. He seemed to be lost, rowing around the marina.

Watching the old guy row into the post.

Me trying again today to convince Richard we should buy a sailboat!

I like the name on this sailboat!

So many sailboats to choose from too!

I think Richard would prefer something like the Bayliner behind me.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society had a museum on the harbour with two boats inside which looked really neat. Unfortunately it was closed due to Covid.

Beautiful wood on this old boat in the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Harbour.

We saw two houseboats in the harbour today and other people who appeared to be living on their sailboats full time. Maybe buy a houseboat and be done with it?!!

A very large active harbour in Ladysmith.

We headed back to the car walking quite quickly to try and make it to Bees Wax Works candle company before they closed at 4pm. As soon as I got into Jerry though, we had a big problem! It appears that I had stepped in dog poop as we were walking through the field back to the car. Oh MY GOODNESS Jerry stunk to high heaven!!

We googled where the candle company was located and quickly drove there in less than 3 minutes. The car was reeked of dog poop. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car to clean off my blundstones. We turned down a residential street and drove right by the house that was supposed to the candle company. We turned around and pulled into the driveway and I went to clean my boots off, while Richard knocked on the door of the home. It turns out that the Bees Wax Works candle company only operates by mail order, so I will put in an order online and have them shipped up to the Union Bay Post Office. We have become addicted to the smell of the beeswax candles that we burn in Newman. They clean and purify the air, and we really like the ambience too as we watch Netflix every night from our duelling couches.

I was able to mostly get the dog poop off my boots and it is a good thing we had ‘thieves oil’ scented hand sanitizer in a spray bottle, so I sprayed my boots well, so we wouldn’t have to smell the dog poop all the way home on our hour and 10 minute drive home!

My cool chauffeur with his Ray Bans...and the guy who cleaned my poopy boots when I got home!

I have to say we really enjoyed visiting Ladysmith, and its ’Heritage by the Sea’ today. It was such an interesting town! Since we returned back to Newman, I found that Ladysmith have two different Heritage Walks we could have done in the town. We only just scratched the surface of the town of Ladysmith, but if we have time, we’ll save it for another day...or maybe we now have an excuse to go back for more Cinnamon Buns!

Tomorrow I think we will take a drive down to Parksville and Nanoose Bay and perhaps see St. Stephen too! The weather looks like it will be similar to today‘s weather at +1C, but no snow which is good!

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