The Town of Ladysmith has named the parkland at 900 Russell Road as Rutti Park.
The Rutti family originally owned the land that is now being developed into single family homes on Russel Road. A letter submitted by the Ladysmith and District Historical Society details the 110 year history of the Rutti family in the area.
“Hugo Rutti (born 1882, died 1966) arrived in Ladysmith in 1910 in a round-about way from his native Finland after spending time in the States. He initially worked in the Extension coal mines, subsequently purchased 10 acres of land from the Russell Family and turned to farming – later adding an additional 10 acres. Hugo was well known in Ladysmith selling farm produce from his cart.”
Descendants of the Rutti family still live in the Ladysmith area today.
Sheila Andreychuk has lived on Russell Road for 45 years, and knew Oiva Rutti, the son of Hugo Rutti, and Oiva’s wife Ethel Lamont. Oiva passed away in 2004, and Ethel lived on the property until she had to be placed in a long term care home.
Andreychuk has been a close friend of the Rutti family for decades.
“I used to go up there and help [Ethel] with her hearing aids, and pick apples, sit and have a cup of tea. She was a great gardener. And I recall Oiva saying ‘you watch and see, there’ll be houses up on the top of that hill.’ We told him he was absolutely crazy. Lo and behold, here we are,” Andreychuk said.
When the housing development on Russell Road began, Andreychuk and a group of Russell Road residents approached the developer about preserving a piece of the land as park. The developer happily obliged, and the space is now enjoyed by residents and their pets.
“It feels like a close knit family that gathers there to enjoy the sunshine, and the green grass,” Andreychuk said.
Andreychuk was one of the main residents who asked the Town to name the park after the Rutti family. She was overjoyed when council voted in favour of the dedication at their Jan. 5 meeting.
“I was in tears, I was just so thrilled to hear the news,” Andreychuk said. “I’ve spoken to both the Rutti boys, and they’re happy as well.”
The Town’s department Parks, Recreation and Culture said there will be an official dedication ceremony of some kind in May 2021.