From Chronicles gone by

March 1911

Men working on the coal wharf complained to the police about the indiscriminate  shooting from the shore and in rowboats. According to one writer, “The local ducks and deer are at far less risk than those loading coal.”

The discharging of a gun also caused a ruckus on Monday afternoon during a quarrel involving Lou Hilgard, operator of a local house of ill repute and a ‘client’. Lew Kee, a Chinese cook employed at the house, ran to the City Hall in search of the police crying that, “Mr. Jack, he shoot Miss Lou or kill himself!” According to the cook the man had tried to cut the woman’s throat and that he, (Lew Kee) had secured the knife. The man then ran to a nearby cabin and returned with a shotgun. Police Chief Allen and several men went at once to the scene, but the Hilgard woman denied any disturbance whatsoever. However, her disheveled appearance belied her claim and a quick search discovered the man, John Dougall, in a back room. He was highly intoxicated and after a struggle was arrested by the chief and taken to the police station

Apparently, Mr. Dougall had been arrested for stealing $36 from the woman on Saturday night and had spent the weekend in jail. After his release on bail Monday, he returned to the house and the fight began.  According to the chief, it is fortunate that Dougall was drunk and that the gun was a single barreled 12 gauge Winchester for “if in his blind rage he had shot again, it might have proved fatal.”

As both the cook and the madam refused to say anything further about the matter, Dougall was brought before Justice of the Peace Matheson Monday evening on the minor charge of discharging a gun within city limits and was fined $5 and costs.  And yes, Lou Hilgard paid the fine.

March 1936

The headline on the Friday, March 13, 1936 edition of The Chronicle reads:

LADYSMITH FACES A NEW INDUSTRIAL ERA

As reported in the previous month’s Chronicle, The Comox Logging Company had been employed by Western Canada Lumbering Company to harvest nearly 10 billion feet of Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar in the lands behind the city. Timber rights were obtained by the company for an area of land reaching below the 49th parallel on the south to the headwater reaches of the Nanaimo Lakes district, including the Bush Creek Valley. Priority for hiring of the 200 men required was given to those in Ladysmith who were at that time unemployed. The company purchased the Abbotsford Hotel (formerly on Esplanade, demolished in 1963) to accommodate many of the new workers and to serve as company offices.  City lots were offered on sale at 10 per cent of assessed value in the hope of attracting new residents to a city hard hit by the Depression.

The village of Granby, described as “the most modern of ghost towns”, was placed on the market.  Owned by Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, the town site was located at Cassidy near Haslam Creek — about 13 km. from Ladysmith.  The property for sale included a boarding hostel for 76 men, a department store, theatre hall, bath houses, company offices and “a number of five- and seven-room bungalows.”

The Granby Coking Plant was opened in 1917 and in 1918 the company procured mining rights for the nearby Douglas coal seam. During the period from 1920-23, more than 300,000 tonnes of coal was shipped annually and 450 men were employed. Despite being considered a ‘model mine community’ Granby was a dangerous mine to work due to gas “blowouts.”  In 1932, the Granby mine ceased operation because of the coal seam giving out, the rising popularity of oil, the dangerous condition of the mine and the economic depression.

March 1961

As a result of a growing school population, a booming economy and a public outcry for a “back to basics” education system, the Ladysmith School District No. 67 decided to implement many of the recommendations of the BC Royal Commission on Education (popularly referred to as the “Chant Report”).  Changes included the formal assessment of all students at Grades 6, 7 and 10, a no frills approach to education, and the development of two educational streams – academic and vocational.

A special Education Week supplement in the March 2 Chronicle reports in 1961 Ladysmith School District consisted of eight schools with 67 classrooms and 72 full-time teachers to serve 1,843 students.  Public schools were located in Chemainus, Ladysmith, Saltair, North Oyster, Diamond and Thetis Island. The district had an operating budget of  $750,000 and assets of just over $2,000,000.

A ‘tongue in cheek’ Chronicle editorial under the headline “Let’s secede from Canada” offered the following reasons for creating our own dominion:

“No more worries about bad wheat crops

No ‘digs’ from Eastern footballers;

No irritating Toronto smugness or Ottawa condescension;

Development as an economic satellite of Japan;

Creation of our own NFL team.”

The article concluded, “After all, who watches the CBC anyway?”