The Ladysmith and District Historical Society hosted their annual Ladysmith Heritage Awards ceremony via zoom on Sunday, Feb. 21.
Awards are given to individuals, organizations, and businesses that have played a key role in the preservation or promotion of local heritage. This year, five awardees were selected from nominations received from the public.
These include Barrie McDonald for researching and publishing an informative booklet on the Tyee Smelter; Pamela Anderson for the rehabilitation of the Arcady Auto Court; John Marston and Luke Marston for sharing Coast Salish culture through their artwork and outreach programs; and the Ladysmith Maritime Society Heritage Vessel Restoration Group for the restoration of heritage wooden vessels of local importance.
McDonald’s work has chronicled the history of the Tyee Smelter, which once smelted copper mined from Mount Sicker. The scale of the smelting operation led to Ladysmith being known as the ‘Smelter City’. No traces of the smelter are left today, except for historical photographs, and McDonald’s informative booklet.
“I feel quite honoured to receive this award, partly because I know of so many people that give of themselves to contribute so much to the promotion of Ladysmith’s heritage. But, particularly since I think the bar was set so high last year when one of my heroes Buffy David was recognized for her preservation of the Stz’uminus culture and language,” McDonald said.
For Ladysmith’s most famous resident, her heritage award is a bit closer to home. Anderson has been hard at work restoring the Arcady property since she returned to Ladysmith in 2019. Anderson has worked with construction company Vertex 8 Ventures to carry out the restoration work. Vertex 8 Ventures was also recognized last year alongside Karen Olenik for their restoration work on the building that houses Plantitude vegan restaurant on 1st Avenue.
“Its very sweet to be recognized for all the hard work — I had a great team of men here — I kept telling them think Art Project,” Anderson said. “And we had a lot of fun too.”
The main Arcady building was teahouse and store. Cabins on the property were popular and rented by folks on holiday, newlyweds, and others. Anderson’s grandparents used to own the property before she purchased it from them. She spent much of her early life there.
“They both knew I’d look after it and not destroy its charm with greed or turn it into condos in the end, though I’ve received many offers, and sincerely explored. I couldn’t bring myself to remove any of the trees that have known me my whole life. I’d prefer to gently restore and enjoy for generations of family to come — I’m trying to create a space where my mom and dad can enjoy and live out their lives while we have enough space and fun things to do for my kids and grandkids to come,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s parents, Carol and Barry, accepted the award on her behalf.
The Marston brothers were recognized for their renowned art work, and using their talents to promote Stz’uminus and Coast Salish culture in Ladysmith and beyond. John was recognized for his ongoing work at Ladysmith Secondary School through the nutsamuut syaays program, and his work on banners around the Ladysmith community. Luke was recognized for his work for the welcome poles at Stz’uminus Community School, and his work with Stz’uminus youth.
“You guys do such outstanding work, you bring our oral tradition to life. In Stz’uminus I always say the success for one is success for all. But tonight, the two of you are bringing success to you and your family,” Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris said.
The Ladysmith Maritime Society’s heritage boat restoration group was recognized for their work maintaining and restoring heritage boats at the Ladysmith Community Marina. LMS has made their heritage boats a central feature of community events, and have created educational programming around the vessels.
Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly, and Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley were all in virtual attendance, and expressed their appreciation for the awardees devotion to Ladysmith’s heritage.