Locals organized support for Alberni flood victims – Chronicles From The Past

Historical News Briefs from Ladysmith and area Compiled by Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith and District Archives.

April 1914

The Ladysmith soccer team had a lengthy but profitable warmup for their game against the Alberni team on the first weekend in April.

The vehicle carrying the team broke down with stripped gears at Cameron Lake. The only alternative for the Ladysmith players was to walk the 13 miles (21 kilometres) to Port Alberni — where they still managed to win a close game!

Residents of Roberts Street appeared before City Council at their regular meeting with a request to cut back the hill to reduce the grade by at least 20 per cent. They claimed the street between Esplanade and Third Avenue was “impossible in winter and barely passable in spring!” A motion to proceed (by the appropriately named Mayor Hillier) was defeated four votes to three.

[NOTE: In the same week, Vancouver City Council approved a motion to ensure separate education for white children and “the Asians” (Japanese and Chinese). The motion was passed unanimously.]

It seems the spring weather in 1914 was affecting everyone. An editorial note from the April 7 edition of the Chronicle with the headline What are We Supposed to Drink? stated: “Faddists have recently declared that tea impairs digestion, coffee weakens the heart, beer ruins the mind and water is the chief conveyor of typhoid fever. It seems there is nothing left to do but quietly die of thirst and be done with it.”

April 1939

Letters to the editor in April of 1939 were concerned about Communism being discussed at Ladysmith High School.

A writer identified as the president of the Ladysmith Catholic Youth Organization went so far as to suggest that a recent speaker at the school “had almost demanded that the youthful hopefuls vote for a party that would shape their destinies.” A response from Sam Service Jr., president of the LHS Students Council, took her to task, stating that, “her (Alicia Krip’s) remarks that Communism is bred into our hearts is an absurd, outrageous and irrational statement and we demand an apology.” The following week, a related editorial in the Cowichan Leader warned  “The gospel of Karl Marx appears to intrigue the minds of some of those trusted with the important task of Education.”

The Chronicle editor replied that, indeed, care should be given to prevent the introduction of radical politics in the school curriculum “especially when such care is taken to keep out the teaching of religion.”

The school board apparently refused to take up the issue. [NOTE: World War II began the following September.]

April 1964

On Good Friday in 1964, the second-largest earthquake in recorded history (9.2 on the Richter Scale) occurred near Valdez, Alaska. The quake created a tsunami that travelled 30 kilometres up the Alberni Canal, reaching a height of seven meters. The two major waves tore up trees, flung cars and destroyed more than 375 homes in the Alberni Valley.

In total, over $10 million of damage was incurred, but no loss of life.

Ladysmith residents spent most of April organizing support for the flood victims. Many had been left with only the wet clothes they were wearing when the tsunami struck. Civil Defence Co-ordinator Al Thicke asked all donations to be left at City Hall, where they would be transported to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

[NOTE: A permanent exhibit of the 1964 Alberni Valley Tsunami has been installed in the Hutcheson Gallery of the Port Alberni Maritime Discovery Centre. Readers may also be interested in watching video footage at http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/environment/natural-disasters/canadas-earthquakes-and-tsunamis/bcs-tsunami-disaster.html]

Compiled by

Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith and District Archives