Located on the 49th parallel, Ladysmith is a picturesque town built on the hillside overlooking the glistening waters of Ladysmith Harbour. One of the oldest settlements on Vancouver Island, the community known as Oyster Harbour was established in 1899 by James Dunsmuir, son of Vancouver Island’s prosperous coal-mining family. The community was designed as a recreation and dormitory complex for miners, serving as a shipping port for coal from Nanaimo, and Dunsmuir moved many buildings by rail to this peaceful spot he had chosen.
When Dunsmuir received word on March 1, 1900 that the British forces had finally relieved their besieged countrymen in Ladysmith, in the Natal Province of South Africa, he named the new town Ladysmith and many local streets were named after British Generals who served in the Anglo Boer War. Read more on The Siege and Relief of Ladysmith.
Today, the delightful little town of Ladysmith has a charming Edwardian setting; a spirited, picturesque community with many of its original buildings under restoration. Take a leisurely stroll along 1st Avenue and see the results of the revitalization program, which has restored a number of these historic heritage buildings. The buildings and sites evoke memories of a frontier past built on coal mining and forestry.
As you enjoy the variety of shops and boutiques you will note the appropriate plaques describing their history. Be sure to look for the house of ill repute! A unique metal collage stands on Main Street to tell Ladysmith’s story through the use of artifacts welded together representing the various eras in the town’s growth.
Surrounded by beautiful mountainous terrain with streams and lakes, Ladysmith is a convenient departure point for hiking, hunting, camping, fishing, and most other outdoor activities.
Location: Ladysmith is located just south of Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The town is serviced by Cassidy Airport, situated 9 km north of Ladysmith, and also by coach lines between operating between Victoria and Nanaimo. A more spectacular route to travel is the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (VIA Rail), which passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada, providing panoramic views of the BC Gulf Islands on its run between Victoria and Courtenay in the Comox Valley.
- Named in April 2000 by “Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine” as one of the “10 Prettiest Towns in Canada”.
- In the early 1900′s Ladysmith served as a shipping port for Nanaimo coal – and as a dormitory and recreation area for miners and their families.
- The Holland Creek Trail System winds approximately 4 kilometres along both sides of Holland Creek, offering an attractive walking route through the centre of the municipality of Ladysmith. Meandering from the Island Highway west to the Hydro lines from town, the trail appeals to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.
- The Black Nugget Museum holds an impressive collection of antiques and regional memorabilia. It is located in the former Jones Hotel, which played a colourful part in Ladysmith’s history until closing in the 1930s.
- Stroll along First Avenue for a look at the turn-of-the century buildings – walking tour maps are available at the Info Centre.
- Transfer Beach, in Ladysmith Harbour, offers warm saltwater swimming to pass the time between bouts of picnicking. Kayak rentals available. Visit the newly constructed amphitheatre on the beach.
- The municipal boat launch in the centre of Ladysmith, is the place to begin exploring the 5 mile length of Ladysmith Harbour. Dunsmuir and Woods Islands on the north side on the harbour are good destinations in summer, while the marshy lagoon at the head of the harbour attracts migrating birds in spring and fall.
- Ladysmith Festival of Lights is the most spectacular on Vancouver Island, with hundreds of thousands of decorative lights, a wonderful parade and one of the Island’s best fireworks shows, not to memtion the plates of spaghetti to kick off the festivities and live entertainment.
- Bungy Jumping: For those who prefer falling over walking, Nanaimo claims to be the home of North America’s first and only bridge built specifically for bungee jumpers. Thrill seekers can experience the ultimate high at the Bungy Zone. You can watch or jump from this 140-foot (42-m) bridge above the Nanaimo River, located just five minutes north of Ladysmith.
- Golf: The Ladysmith Golf Course is a 9-hole, par 27 course. Nearby Nanaimo and the areas to the north have seen the proliferation of golf courses with a view. Tee off on any of 20 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Nanaimo. Courses range from family mini-golf to demanding 18-hole courses with beautiful views. Located 3 miles (5 km) north of Nanaimo is the Nanaimo Golf Club, a demanding 18-hole course with beautiful views of the water, and two 9-hole courses; Pryde Vista Golf Club and the Eaglequest Golf Centre. South of Ladysmith is the Mount Brenton Golf Club on Henry Road in Chemainus, a challenging par-71 golf course, with tree-lined fairways and spectacular greens. Golf Vacations on Vancouver Island.