BY DUCK PATERSON
Those who have worked to preserve and honour Ladysmith’s history were recognized for their efforts.
This past Sunday, Feb. 26, the Ladysmith and District Historical Society held its fourth annual Ladysmith Heritage Awards ceremony via Zoom.
“The awards are to recognize individuals, groups, societies and businesses that have played a key role, through their actions or initiatives, in preserving or promoting local heritage,” said society chairperson Quentin Goodbody.
Mayor Aaron Stone thanked all the nominees for their contributions.
“Heritage and history is part and parcel of how our past forms our future…” he said. “It’s all you folks that continue to make our community known for being a special place.”
The first award was presented to Daryl and Donna Beeston for their restoration of 32 White St. The house was one of the many houses moved to Ladysmith from the Extension area back in the early 1900s. Daryl mentioned they realized the house was “that old” when it was noticed that a cast iron tub removed as part of the renos was stamped ‘1904.’
Special mention was made of Brian Childs who was the contractor for the restoration work.
“We were lucky to work with Brian and his crew, they are very professional. Brian really appreciates the beauty of heritage and how it has made Ladysmith special,” Daryl said.
Childs thanked the historical society for recognizing the project and also for the other work they do for the community.
“I’m glad to see that a lot of these older homes are being looked after, as they have a lot of the town’s character,” Childs said.
The second award was presented to two individuals who have volunteered their time over the last few years to bring the old railway station back to life. Bill Drysdale and Chuck Forrest both spent hundreds of hours cleaning up the area around the old station including painting the building, inside and out, and getting a new roof.
“For their pioneering efforts in maintaining the E&N train station and grounds along a pathway connecting the waterfront to downtown, we want to thank them and acknowledge their many hours of community service,” Goodbody said.
Drysdale said he’s proud to be a heritage award winner and will especially remember winning alongside Forrest.
“It was not a project we did for recognition, it was a project born from discussions about how we could improve first impressions of Ladysmith…” he said. “When our Flat Earth Society would sit in the 49th café, over our coffee and … we discussed how this could be done – a clean, open path to town for tourists. Then it just ballooned.”
Forrest said the project was about companionship and trying to make a difference in the community.
“The whole thing grew from a simple idea into making a real heritage statement,” he said.
The volunteers thanked the heritage society, the Town of Ladysmith and others, noting that the Island Corridor Foundation put in the dollars for the new roof and the Ladysmith Kinsmen and the Rotary Club paid for other necessary work.
The street banners in downtown Ladysmith for 2022 were designed and painted by Jason Harris from the Stz’uminus First Nation community, and his work on the project earned him a heritage award.
Goodbody said the banners were exquisite and showcased Stz’uminus artwork and enhanced awareness and appreciation of Coast Salish culture through art.
“I was really excited to see my work displayed in Ladysmith…” Harris said. “I am a carver, I was never a drawer or painter, but now it has given me another opportunity.”
The Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron parents supporting committee was honoured for ensuring the squadron’s place in Ladysmith’s community identity and for its role in the preserving and celebrating Aggie Hall. The air cadets, in the past, helped extend the life of Aggie Hall by leading a community effort to expand the structure to accommodate classrooms and offices. The squadron is coming up on its 80th anniversary at the hall.
The last award of the evening went to Stz’uminus elder George Harris, Wholwolet’za for composing the Stz’uminus Mustimuxw community anthem and for his advocacy work. Harris wrote the song in 2010 when he was asked to be part of the local Olympic torch relay welcoming committee in Ladysmith.
“I am proud of my heritage and proud of our children. They are now learning our culture, language and customs in our schools and that makes me so happy,” he said.