December 1962 election was biggest in Ladysmith’s history – Chronicles From The Past

Ed Nicholson of the Ladysmith Historical Society shares the news from December 1912, 1937 and 1962 in his Chronicles From The Past column.

December 1912

City Council spent considerable time discussing a corporate donation to the Ladysmith Christmas Tree fund, which was established to buy gifts for the children of unemployed residents.

Mayor Dier could not get support for his suggestion of a $100 donation.

Even more surprising was their reaction to his suggestion that council members could donate their December stipend to the fund.

“I’ve already given,” said Alderman Siler.

“I was planning on using that money for a turkey,” said Ald. Campbell.

“It’s a good idea, but is it legal?” commented Ald. Matheson.

“I don’t agree with this method of using our remuneration,” was Ald. Malone’s contribution.

A motion to approve $25 was finally passed by the council.

The Chronicle editor, Sam Carley, had his own grumpy holiday message: “The man who sends out of town for his Christmas gifts, be it boots, clothes, printing or goods of any other kind is an enemy to the city.”

T. Rickard shot a panther [cougar] north of Stocking Lake a week before Christmas.

The male cat was brought down with one shot, weighed in at just over 140 pounds and was nine feet long.

[NOTE: The government at that time paid a bounty of $40 per cat, but the hide could be sold for $10 to taxidermists, and local Chinese often bought the tail, paws and the gall bladder for $10-15.]

There was a necktie dance in Gould’s Hall on Tue, Dec. 10.

Gents had to pay $1. Ladies were given free admission but were asked to bring refreshments.

[NOTE: Can anyone tell the writer what exactly was a “necktie dance?”]

December 1937

The British Columbia Telephone Company announced new rates for calls made between Ladysmith and Nanaimo.

A cost of a three-minute call after 7 p.m. on weekdays or any time Sundays was 10¢ Station to Station or 15¢ Person to Person. (Government tax extra)

[NOTE: Before World War II, in most of Canada, people shared a party line with from two to 10 to 20 people. You could talk only five minutes or so before someone else wanted to make a call. And anyone on the party line could pick up their receiver and listen in to your conversation.]

Sam Guthrie, the CCF member for Cowichan-Newcastle, was pleased to support a new labour bill in second reading.

“It has been a long time coming,” said the well-known champion of collective bargaining. “Up to now, many employees have been refused the right to organize on Vancouver Island.”

“In 1912”, he said, recalling the famous coal strike, “men were put in jail simply for trying to exercise that right.”

The bill received support from all parties and passed easily.

Ladysmith residents experienced their whitest Christmas in recent memory.

The snow continued all Christmas Day, and by evening, more than 30 inches of fresh snow had fallen.

Ladysmith work crews, however, did an excellent job of clearing streets, allowing people in town to get around easily. [The exception being the Symonds Street hill, which was left unplowed for the enjoyment of children of all ages.]

The highway to Nanaimo was in good condition, but not so the journey to the south, where the road remained closed all day.

The Provincial Works Department was severely criticized by the Chronicle editor for their “antiquated” snow removal equipment, as the same problem had occurred in January the winter before.

“The condition of the Island Highway south of us can only be described as damnable,” he thundered.

“If a little city like Ladysmith can clear away the snow, surely it is not too big a problem for a provincial government.”

December 1962

Ladysmith voters returned Len Ryan to office as Chairman of the Village Commission in early December with a majority of 143 votes.

Commissioners Tom Strang and Rud Battie were also re-elected with increased majorities and were joined on the commission by Stan Heys, who defeated newcomer Kathleen Grouhel by 365 votes to 308.

This was the biggest election in Ladysmith’s history and the first to be held with the newly expanded municipal boundaries.

Diane Lewis, writing for Ladysmith High School, reported on attending a special assembly conducted with representatives from Trans Canada Airlines.

The panel included two stewardesses, a pilot and a mechanic.

Miss Lewis stated that, “We heard that within our lifetime, we will be able to fly across Canada in approximately one hour!”  [Unfortunately, 50 years later, it takes us at least that long just to get to the airport.]

Compiled by Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith Historical Society

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