Celebrating Ladysmith’s community spirit

Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins highlights the community's generosity in his Ladysmith Matters column.

Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins

Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins

What a wonderful weekend of celebrating community spirit in the Town of Ladysmith we have just had. This weekend bore witness to three exceptional examples of individuals, organizations and businesses stepping forward to ensure our community is the best it can be. The spirit of generosity in our community is truly exceptional.

The ‘Community Spirit’

On Saturday, June 7, before a large crowd at the Ladysmith Maritime Heritage Festival on the LMS Community Marina docks, members of the Ladysmith and District Marine Rescue Society and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 29 officially dedicated their new rescue vessel the “Community Spirit.”  What a most appropriate name!

Station 29, based at the Oak Bay Marine Group’s Ladysmith Marina, is a volunteer organization that has provided marine search and rescue in our local waters for over fifteen years. Their area of responsibility stretches from Dodd Narrows in the north to Sansum Narrows in the south. Station 29 is one of busiest marine search and rescue stations on the B.C. coast, responding to over 50 calls a year.

Some 24 men and women make up the Ladysmith and District Marine Rescue Society. These dedicated and determined community volunteers raised over $340,000 over the last two and a half years to purchase the new rescue boat, lift, trailer, and other necessary equipment.

The rescue boat crew is made up of volunteers of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 29. These individuals undergo extensive training and are on call 24/7/365 to help ensure marine rescue services are always available to the mariners in our local waters.

If you would like to find out more, make a donation, or even consider joining our local marine search and rescue, please click here.

Coaling Wharf Unveiled

Next time you are down on the waterfront, be sure to stop in and visit the Harbour Heritage Centre situated in the south end of the Machine Shop (large blue building). Ladysmith Maritime Society volunteers under the leadership of Shirley Blackstaff and Marnie Craig have created an incredible showcase of our waterfront history.

On Saturday June 7, during the Ladysmith Maritime Heritage Festival, which is also sponsored and organized by the volunteers of Ladysmith Maritime Society, I had the opportunity to drop in to the Heritage Centre and discovered to my delight the newly-delivered model of the great coaling wharf that once dwarfed the landscape at what is now Transfer Beach Park.

The model, originally started by the late Guy Brooks (creator of the Ladysmith Waterfront Log Dump Diorama) some five years ago, was completed over the past year in the basement of a home in Maple Bay by model railway builders Dave Ames, Harry Southern, Ken Black, Bob Hartl, Victor Gerwin, Jim Irvine, Vies Salanski and Bill Hooks and model ship builder Colin MacLock.  Collectively they gave hundreds of hours of volunteer time. None of these men reside in our community, but they were willing to give freely of themselves to help make Ladysmith history come alive. We thank them for their generosity.

The model is not quite complete. Finishing touches are underway including the addition of a model of an early sailing ship under construction by Colin MacLock. When complete, later this month, the whole scene will be encased in glass. To see a delightful short video of the model under construction, please visit YouTube and type in Coaling Wharf Ladysmith. It is worth the time.

At this time the Heritage Centre, staffed by volunteers, is open Monday and Friday from 1-3 p.m., but by June 20, it is expected to be open daily over the summer months. Opening hours will be posted on the door of the Heritage Centre.

LSS Graduation

On Friday, June 6, the commencement ceremonies were held at Ladysmith Secondary School.

The awarding of scholarships and bursaries is a tradition at graduation ceremonies to provide assistance to students entering their next level of training and to recognize the breadth of talent and accomplishments of the members of the graduating class.

True to form, the generosity of this community is simply outstanding. Over $104,000 in bursaries and scholarships was awarded on Friday night.

Donors from all walks of life, individuals, local societies, and businesses were on hand to help congratulate the deserving students and provide well wishes for their future. The contributions per capita far exceed that of any high school in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.