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Community Profile: Ladysmith

Ladysmith is that kind of small town where people walking down the street will not only make eye contact with you, they’ll actually smile and say hello as well! It’s a place where a fellow motorist might wave you through a four-way stop, even if it’s their turn to go. Where the cashiers in the shops ask you how your day is going, and then actually listen to your answer.

It’s just a laid-back, easy-going, West Coast kind of town, nestled between the ocean and the hills. The downtown features heritage buildings with modern goods and services, and there are some interesting little restaurants to fit any taste.

Here’s a few statistics to paint the picture:

Population: a little over 8,500

Location: about an hour North of Victoria, or a half-hour South of Nanaimo

The traditional colour palette of Ladysmith weather – green and grey

Transportation: 5 minute drive to the Cassidy (Nanaimo) airport, 15 minutes to the Duke Point BC Ferry terminal.

Main Economic Drivers: Forestry, Tourism, and Agriculture.

Weather: well, it’s the West Coast, isn’t it? The colour palette is green on the bottom and grey on the top for most of the year, with a lovely interlude of blue skies from June to September when temperatures are in the high 20’s (Celsius). Most winters will see a few snow days, when this hilly town pretty much shuts down so everyone can get out their toboggans. The snow rarely lasts, however, as the average January temperature is 6 degrees above freezing. And in the springtime, well, there simply is no better place to be than Vancouver Island!

A Japanese Cherry Tree in full bloom

Media: The Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle newspaper is delivered weekly; Take 5 magazine comes out once a month

Schools: Ladysmith Primary School (Kindergarten to grade 3), Ladysmith Intermediate School (grades 4-7), École North Oyster Elementary (K-7), and Ladysmith Secondary School (grades 8-12). École North Oyster Elementary is a dual-track school, having both French immersion and English programs.

Notable People: World-famous blonde bombshell and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson grew up in Ladysmith. Stef Lang, a Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer also known as DYLN, grew up and attended Ladysmith Secondary School. Another LSS graduate is actress Michelle Mylett, who currently stars in the hit series “Letterkenny”.

Dining: For a small town, Ladysmith certainly has a wide variety of cuisine on offer in local eateries. There are well-established family restaurants, coffee shops and pubs, an Indian restaurant and a Tapas bar, plus a few sushi and teriyaki options to round out your available choices over and above the regular fast-food chains. There’s even a vegan restaurant AND a gluten-free café!

The Patio at Plantitude Vegan restaurant in Ladysmith

Festivals and Celebrations: Ladysmith residents enjoy doing things outdoors, all year round. Family-fun celebrations in the summertime include Ladysmith Days, Logger Sports, the Maritime Festival and Arts on the Avenue – and of course the annual “Brits on the Beach” and “Ladysmith Show and Shine” automobile love-ins. But the undisputed champion of Ladysmith events has to be the Festival of Lights, when the charming downtown shops and streets are illuminated with a blaze of holiday brilliance all through December and January. And it all kicks off with the Light-Up Parade on the last Thursday in November, where – for one evening – the population of Ladysmith nearly doubles, as people come from far and wide to watch Santa flip the switch and kick off the holiday season.

Community Living: Ladysmith keeps its community spirit alight all year round with a wealth of volunteers doing just about anything and everything you could imagine – read my blog, “Ladysmith, Queen of Clubs, Part 1. Ladysmith has a nearly endless supply of clubs, organizations, and associations – with a veritable army of volunteers who all spend their time building the best community they can.

Recreation: Snuggling itself against the hills rising from the Pacific as it does, Ladysmith offers all kinds of outdoor pursuits. In addition to the always-popular seaside activities at Transfer Beach, local recreational favourites include gardening (of course), hiking and biking along the Holland Creek Trail, or making the climb up the hills to Heart Lake.

Ladysmith Parks, Recreation and Culture operates out of the Frank Jameson Community Centre, a facility that includes a pool, a weight room, a gym, and a fitness studio where you can sweat to your heart’s content at any number of cardio, spin, yoga, or other exercise classes that are held on a regular basis.

As for organized sports, Ladysmith has you covered there as well. Read my blog “Ladysmith, Queen of Clubs, Part 2.

Kayaking is also a popular pastime around these waters:

Ladysmith also has a beautiful Marina featuring moorage and boathouses as well as free parking. And the view is spectacular:

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So if you’re looking to relocate to an incredibly friendly small town that’s abuzz with lots of social activities, great schools and programs for the kids, and also plenty to eat, then Ladysmith may be just the town for you. And if you need more convincing, read my blog, “Ladysmith Love Letter”!