Mayor Aaron Stone giving Buffy David the first ever Ladysmith Heritage Award (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith Heritage Awards honour commitments to preserving local history

Four awards were given at the first ever Ladysmith Heritage Awards ceremony

Ladysmith and District Historical Society held its first ever Heritage Awards ceremony on Thursday night.

The Ladysmith Heritage Awards honoured individuals and organizations that have played a significant role in the preservation of Ladysmith’s heritage.

There were three award categories: individual – recognizing individuals for their work preserving heritage; Artifact – recognizing the saving of a particular artifact or group of artifacts which embody an important part of Ladysmith’s heritage which would have otherwise disappeared; and project – recognizing a business, business owner, or group whose project has preserved and promoted the heritage of the area.

Stz’uminus elder, Buffy David received the first-ever individual award for her work in preserving the Stz’uminus culture, and teaching the hul’qumi’num language at Stz’uminus Community School. David was also recognized for sharing her work with the broader Ladysmith community.

“I would like to thank Ladysmith for this award this evening,” David said. “I love my job, what I do, and teaching the children our language… I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I think this has been the first time I’ve been recognized for what I do.”

The second award of the night was for the artifact category. Ladysmith Resource Centre Association was recognized for their work in maintaining the church bell, cross, and a piece of the steeple of the now demolished St. John’s Anglican Church. FMI donated the use of a crane, and employee time to assist in the preservation of these heritage artifacts. They are now on display in the Ladysmith museum. Marsh Stevens accepted the award on behalf of LRCA board president, Guido Weisz, who could not attend the award ceremony.

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“The mandate of the LRCA is to improve the health and well being of our community. The community’s health is impacted by our collective sense of hope and opportunity… A strong community needs a strong foundation. Our community’s heritage is a key pillar of Ladysmith’s identity, and a foundation upon which we will continue to improve and prosper,” Stevens said on Weisz’s behalf.

Two awards were given out in the project category. The first was awarded to Munroe Myers of Roberts Street Pizza for the preservation of the creation of a unique and attractive landscape, while preserving the heritage aspects of 20 Roberts Street, one of the Town’s early buildings dating from circa 1905.

“It’s been a labour of love ever since I saw that building – 24 years ago now – I knew I could do something with it and preserve it,” Myers said. “At one time we thought about tearing it down, but then I got rid of that partner.”

Karen Olenik received the second project award for her restoration of the Ladysmith Hotel, which is now home to Plantitude restaurant, and White Space living. The building, built in 1900, also features executive rental suites above the main-floor businesses, something Olenik did to help supply more rental housing to Ladysmith.

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“This was quite a surprise. I’m very grateful, because it was quite a struggle to conform an old building into what is acceptable by today’s standards,” Olenik said. “We did it, it’s finished. There are nights I finish up, and I sit there in the restaurant, and I look out at the lights on the patio – it used to be a lovely little hovel. I think about how many dump trucks took the garbage out of there, and all the things we went through… We really appreciate being in this beautiful little town.”

Ladysmith and District Historical Society president, Quentin Goodbody also recognized the efforts of Pamela Anderson for her work in restoring there Arcady property south of Coronation Mall; the Town of Ladysmith and the Chamber of Commerce for their work in developing a heritage and investment app; the Roethe family for their ongoing work at the Traveller’s Hotel; and the ongoing work to upgrade the Comox Logging Machine Shop.

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Marsh Stevens (middle) accepting the artifact award on behalf of the LRCA (Cole Schisler photo)

Munroe Myers (middle) of Roberts Street Pizza accepting his Project award (Cole Schisler photo)

Karen Olenik (middle) of Plantitude accepting her Project award (Cole Schisler photo)

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