Lots of news in Ladysmith history

Surprise election adds unexpected twist to heritage exploration

Gerry Beltgens Special to the Chronicle

The Ladysmith and District Historical Society annual general meeting turned out to be more interesting than even the organizers had anticipated.

After the April 16 AGM reports and election (more on this later) there was a fascinating presentation by Alan Hoover on the history of indigenous canoe racing on Vancouver Island and down into Washington. Local canoes and paddlers from Kulleet Bay, Shell Beach and Penelakut Island were included in the information and photo slides from the late 1800s to present day.

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Photos included images of canoes by local artist and carver Luke Marston. Several members of Stz’uminus First Nation were in attendance and Buffi David, a Stz’uminus First Nation Elder provided a traditional opening prayer and song. LDHS has been working with Stz’uminus to be able to present a display of First Nations artifacts in a culturally respectful way.

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Mayor Aaron Stone spoke about a Walking Tour App that is being developed that will provide information on various locations within the town on Android and Apple phones. Development is in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, Stz’uminus First Nation, LDHS and LMS.

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Doug Routley the MLA for the area announced a $1.4 million dollar grant for restoration, stabilization and shoring of the Morden Mine headframe and tipple.

RELATED: B.C. government commits $1.4 million to restore Morden Mine

During a break while ballots were counted from the election, Mark Anderson, the historian for the Nanaimo and Ladysmith Masonic Lodges provided a fascinating background on the temples and provided a rare tour of the building and meeting rooms. The main hall is covered with historic photos and memorabilia reflecting the history and leadership of the Masons in Ladysmith and Chemainus. Mark was nominated and elected to the Board of LDHS.

After the reports provided by LDHS president Ed Nicholson and treasurer Chris Abrams plus reports on the industrial artifacts, the museum and the archives the election of officers was held. Mark Anderson was elected to the board by acclimation. Quentin Goodbody, the outgoing secretary was elected as vice-president. Abrams stayed on as treasurer and the position of secretary was left vacant.

Nicholson offered to stay as president for one more year, but on the second call an individual on the floor nominated Tim Genner, a new member. This was clearly a surprise to most of the members as there had been no prior notice.

After the initial surprise and a check to confirm that Genner was a signed up member, ballots were prepared and there was an election. On the first ballot the count was 18 votes for Nicholson and 18 votes Genner. A second vote was called. As there had been many new members signed up in the week prior to and at the meeting there was some confusion as to who were members and eligible to vote. A break was called and the tour of the Mason’s main Hall took place.

Upon returning to the AGM meeting room the count was read out. The vote was again 18 for Nicholson and 18 for Genner. To break the tie the two names were put into a hat and Genner’s name was drawn. After being proclaimed president, Genner gave a brief speech about the need to bring everyone together.

Nicholson was surprised by the last minute nomination.

“I had been trying for months to enrol someone to the position of president but with no takers. I don’t know Mr Genner but I wish him the best of luck in his new role.”

Nicholson will stay on with the LDHS as a member.

But the twists weren’t over yet.

On Tuesday, April 23, the new board held its first meeting where Genner resigned from the presidency to sit as a board member. Goodbody will act as interim president while the board decides about how to proceed with naming or electing a permanent president. Alex Stewart will fill the role of secretary.

The new board is looking forward to working with the Town on future projects that highlight the shared history of the community. One such project is the revitalisation of the display in front of the Royal Bank.

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