Bernardien KnolLadysmith Museum
The Ladysmith Museum has a history of its own, which will be celebrated at its fifth anniversary open house, Saturday, June 18 – check out the planned events at www.ladysmithhistoricalsociety.ca
A long-standing dream of many locals, over a great number of years, the museum has been developed and run by volunteers of the Ladysmith & District Historical Society (LDHS), a group of history buffs that rallied behind the efforts of author Viola Cull, aunt of well-known town historian Rob Johnson.
Viola wrote two books about early Ladysmith history, and from there the dream for a museum was born.
For a long time it remained dormant, though.
Throughout most of the 90’s, the late Kit Willmot remained the only active member of the LDHS, carrying the torch for Ladysmith history.
Things changed when Marina Sacht from Take5 teamed up with Willmot to produce a history column. This revitalized LDHS and the inaugural meeting with a Board of Directors was held in January, 1999.
One of the most exciting long-term goals to come out of that meeting was the establishment and finding of a suitable location for a public LDHS Museum.
Some may claim that plans for a museum go back much further. Ray Knight, well-known businessman and life-long collector of Ladysmith history, made the first public display of historical photographs in the front window of Knight’s Hardware Store in 1954.
Others may say that the idea of a public museum goes back way further, to the year 1904 when J.A. Knight opened Knight’s Stationery store. Mr. Knight senior also worked as a professional photographer. We owe the majority of historic photographs of Ladysmith’s buildings, streets and events to him.
The dream for a ‘real’ museum gained support from the Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Rob Hutchins and Town Council. It was in the summer of 2011, when Maureen Martin was President of LDHS, that it finally came true. The Resources Center moved to its new location, and the Ladysmith & District Credit Union, which owned the vacated building, offered it to LDHS “free to use” and develop as a museum.
The official Opening of Ladysmith Museum took place May 18, 2012. The museum features a storytelling timeline, dating back to 1890 when the area was known as Oyster Harbour. Great care has been taken in the layout of exhibits that reveal details about the people, industries and events that have made Ladysmith what it is today.
Exhibits have grown and have become more professional looking over the years, as resources increased. Temporary exhibits have gone up – the current one on the Revitalization of Downtown Ladysmith 30 years ago.
The above article is an abbreviated version of an item submitted by Bernardien Knol, Curator of the Ladysmith Museum.