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Ladysmith: Queen of Clubs, pt. 2 – Youth Sports

Sport helps youths to become better contributors to society. Research shows a child’s involvement in sport helps them to improve their social interaction, increase their confidence, and improve their listening skills and health. Competitive sports can be brilliant for building children’s confidence. From team mates telling them they’ve done a great job to accepting new challenges and accomplishing goals, competitive sports can be a real boost to self-esteem.

Ladysmith, the “Queen of Clubs”,  is home to many youth sporting and activity groups – here’s a few to get you started:

Ladysmith Baseball Association

Over the past 52 years the Ladysmith Baseball Association (LBA) has offered sporting opportunities to the youth of Ladysmith and district. Whatever level you play at, baseball can enhance your life, improving fitness, strength and coordination. Whether you are looking to play casually in their recreational league or competitively with one of their traveling teams, you’ll find the LBA to be a great place to learn new skills and meet new friends. LBA is a volunteer based, not for profit society.

Mid-Isle Soccer Club

The Mid-Isle Soccer Club is a not-for-profit, volunteer-operated Club whose mission is to foster a lifelong love of soccer in our youth members, and to promote the benefits that team sports and a healthy lifestyle provide. Their Club is open to any child from the age of 3 to 17 that wishes to play. The season begins in September and runs through March (with a holiday break in late December). Registration opens in March and closes in August.

Ladysmith Minor Football Association

The Ladysmith Minor Football Association (LMFA)  is a full contact co-ed football league for players aged 9 – 14. Quality, safety & coaches for players are their number one goal. They provide the individual growth of our community’s children through the spirit of competition, discipline and fair play, and are  committed to providing a program that maintains the highest standards and guarantees a fun, positive experience for everyone involved.

Rhythm Dance Academy: Ladysmith’s Dance Studio

Rhythm Dance Academy is a bright, spacious and inviting dance studio located right in the beating heart of Ladysmith, BC. Discover the passion for dance and explore the various opportunities in the many disciplines that Rhythm offers. Rhythm Dance Academy provides classes for ages three to adults in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, and Performing Company.

Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association

Kids in Ladysmith play hockey in the Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association, with their home rink located a few minutes down the road at the Fuller Lake Arena. The Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association is committed to providing quality hockey programs for kids aged 5-17. They provide the highest quality amateur hockey programs for children at their appropriate level of play, by encouraging fun, sportsmanship, good citizenship, physical development and a love of the game, that lasts a lifetime.

Fuller Lake Skating Club

The Fuller Lake Skating Club offers figure skating, power skating, and “CanSkate” learn-to-skate programs every year from September through March at the Fuller Lake Arena.

Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club

The Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club was established in 1944. It is a non-profit, co-ed volunteer organization involved in the promotion and preservation of outdoor recreational activities and conservation programs. They host learn-to-fish events, watershed debris cleanups, and they operate the Bush Creek Hatchery.

Ladysmith Chemainus Swim Club

The Ladysmith Chemainus Swim Club (LCSC) is a non-profit society that promotes youth health and fitness through swimming. Based out of the Frank Jameson Community Center in Ladysmith, they welcome competitive and non-competitive swimmers of all ages and abilities. The goal of the club is to equip each member with life skills while having a desire to see them succeed in and out of the pool. Swimmers travel for competitions, mainly in the Island, as well as in house events. Registration is ongoing – you can always join the Orcas!

So if you’re looking for a sporting adventure for your children, to offer them all the benefits that sport provides, then Ladysmith has you covered – on the field, in the stream, on the ice and in the pool!

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Ladysmith Weekend Escape #1: The Saanich Peninsula & Sidney by the Sea

Vancouver Island is FULL of wonders, and Ladysmith is in the middle of it all!

Drive time from Ladysmith: around 90 minutes

Getting There from Ladysmith: Head south on the TransCanada Highway, over the Malahat and into Victoria. Turn left at Mackenzie Ave and follow the signs to exit onto the Patricia Bay Highway (towards the Victoria Airport and Swartz Bay Ferry terminal). Follow signs to Sidney! Enjoy the sights along the way!

The Saanich Peninsula

Even though it’s traditionally the driest part of Vancouver Island, rolling hills and lush farmlands characterize the Saanich Peninsula. Many people call this area the “Provence of the Island”. Backroad drives will uncover small wineries, farm stands, and marshlands teeming with birds. The peninsula is home to many delights, including the Victoria Polo Grounds and  the Climb the Boulders climbing gym.

3-story climbing wall at Climb the Boulders!

The family-favourite Victoria Butterfly Gardens is also nearby, featuring thousands of butterflies as well as frogs, tortoises, flamingos, and other tropical birds. And no visit to the Saanich Peninsula is complete without a trip to the world-famous Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site that receives over a million visitors a year. After strolling through the Sunken Garden and the amazing Rose Garden, enjoy afternoon tea in the original Butchart family residence, overlooking the Italian Garden and the Saanich Inlet. In the summertime, there are evening concerts on the lawn, and on Saturday nights there’s a fireworks show. Not to be missed!

Fountain statue in the Italian Garden, Butchart Gardens

Sidney by the Sea

Along the shores of the Salish Sea, with a commanding view of Mount Baker and the Gulf Islands, lies the charming community of Sidney By the Sea. Accommodations abound in the Sydney area, for all tastes and budgets – but no matter where you stay, Sidney has something for everyone. Beacon Avenue holds shops and galleries that are perfect for poking around in – and on Thursday nights in the Summertime, this main street is closed to traffic and becomes a vibrant street market with live music!

Shop!

Shopping in Sydney is always eclectic and engaging! For starters, “Booktown”, as Sidney is also known, is a bibliophile’s dream – there seems to be a bookstore on every corner! Our favourite is the Haunted Bookshop, with every one of its wonderful antique bookcases holding a treasure trove for readers.

Another favourite is Tanner’s Books, with its “Travel and Nautical Room” full of maps, charts, and nautical reference books. And Beacon Books has an excellent collection of Modern First Editions and rare collectibles.

See the Sights!

If you have the time (and you should make the time), wander on down to the Sidney Pier and catch the passenger ferry to the Sidney Spit. It’s a narrow, sandy strip of land that’s perfect for sunbathing and swimming, or watching the shorebirds on the tidal flats. For an extra adventure, rent some kayaks and make your own way over there – it’s only 5 km across the water from the Town of Sidney!

Sidney Spit (Gulf Islands National Park Reserve)

And while you’re down by the Sidney Pier, spend some time at the Shaw Center for the Salish Sea, Sidney’s award-winning aquarium. There are wolf eels, jellyfish, a giant Pacific octopus, and hundreds of other amazing marine animals. It’s a great place for kids and adults alike!

Eat and Drink!

All that walking and shopping is going to make you hungry. There are many excellent choices in Sidney, but our personal favourite is “the Farmer’s Daughter”, a fromagerie/bistro/wine bar that serves quality cheeses from around the world – with the wines to match! And of course, you can get artisan gift baskets and platters to take home!

And down at the Van Isle Marina, you’ll find the Sea Glass waterfront grill, another of our favourites. Their menu is mouth-watering and their wine list is almost as superb as their table service. Reservations are recommended!

Coming Home to Ladysmith

Summertime: Something we like to do when coming back from the Saanich Peninsula is to catch the Brentwood Bay ferry over to Mill Bay. It’s a short trip on the water, and gets you to the north side of the Malahat without having to go through Victoria traffic. A word of warning, though – the ferry only holds about 20 vehicles, so you may have to sit in the café and have an ice cream cone while you wait for the next sailing!

Autumn: We generally forego the Brentwood Bay ferry in the Fall, in favour of looping back through Victoria in order to stop at Goldstream Park on the way home to Ladysmith. Goldstream Provincial Park is in an old-growth temperate rain forest on the north-bound side of the highway at the start of the climb up the Malahat Drive. It’s one of the best places around to see salmon spawning, generally between October and December. And where there’s lots of salmon, there are a lot of eagles – so don’t forget your camera!

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Ladysmith: Queen of Clubs, pt. 1 – Community Organizations

An unknown author once said, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year; but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.

If that’s true, then Ladysmith – this grand old dame of a town – must be the biggest democracy around. It constantly amazes me how, for such a little community, 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. Ladysmith really is the Queen of Clubs! Here’s a rundown on all the service clubs and arts organizations that Ladysmith has to offer:

Service Clubs:

Ladysmith Fraternal Order of Eagles

The F.O.E Ladysmith 2101 works hard to bring citizens together in the name of bettering communities and raising funds to assist friends and neighbours in need. They donate thousands of dollars annually to Ladysmith sports groups, Festivals and Celebrations, and Community Support groups. Their motto is “People Helping People”. More…

Ladysmith Kinsmen

Kin Canada is an all-Canadian service organization made up of outstanding community volunteers. From coast to coast, members are enhancing quality of life in their communities by promoting service, fellowship, positive values and national pride. The Ladysmith Kinsmen really enjoy getting their hands dirty – building playgrounds and access ramps as well as fundraising to help local families and graduating students. The Ladysmith Kinsmen are also the sponsors and organizers of both of the Town’s annual parades: Ladysmith Celebration Days in the Summer, as well as the hugely famous Festival of Lights’ Light Up parade in November. More…

Rotary Club of Ladysmith

Rotary International brings together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-religious organization open to all people regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, or political preference. The Ladysmith Club holds regular meetings every first and third Thursday of every month at the Fox and Hound Pub. More…

Ladysmith Lions Club

Lions strive to create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary service through community involvement and international co-operation. The Ladysmith Lions meet on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month at 6:30 pm at the Ladysmith Seniors Center. More…

Royal Canadian Legion Branch #171

Whether helping local Veterans, supporting seniors, providing youth sports programs, raising funds, volunteering to help those in need, or simply offering a place to gather for fun and celebration, Legionnaires provide essential services in their communities. The Royal Canadian Legion is proud of its military heritage and still maintains close ties with the Armed Forces today; however, over the years, categories of membership have evolved to include members of our close knit community. Please feel free to come visit us at 621 First Avenue in Ladysmith. More…

Ladysmith Air Cadets

Launched in 1943, the Ladysmith Air Cadets provide a dynamic, structured youth program that offers a variety of interesting and challenging activities and develops an increased level of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness in local youth. Cadets are motivated to improve their physical fitness, to work harder at their academic studies and to give back to their communities through volunteerism and citizenship activities. More…

Community Services Groups

Ladysmith Fire/Rescue (LFR) Ladysmith Fire/Rescue is a volunteer fire department that provides fire protection to the Town of Ladysmith, parts of Saltair and the Diamond Improvement District. The fire protection area spans over 40 square miles.  In addition to responding to approximately 200 calls per year, LFR maintains a strong public education and fire prevention presence in our community. More…

Ladysmith Search & Rescue (LSAR)

LSAR’s Ground Search and Rescue members are highly trained in back-country rescues. The LSAR Swift Water Team responds to incidents in inland waters, creeks lakes and rivers. Additionally, LSAR offers Adventure Smart programs to educate the public on being prepared when they head out in the back country. More…

Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA)

The LRCA is a non-profit charity that serves unique and diverse individuals and families by offering resources and services that enhance the quality of life in Ladysmith and surrounding area.  The LRCA has a renewed mission, a purposeful direction to “enrich the lives of the people in the community through advocacy, programs and partnerships.” More…

Ladysmith Family & Friends (LaFF)

LaFF is a Family Centre for families and caregivers from  Ladysmith and surrounding areas with children up to the age of 6 which provides inclusive, interactive opportunities for the development of children, families and community. LaFF’s vision is to have a community of connected and thriving families. More…

Ladysmith Seniors’ Centre

The Ladysmith Seniors’ Centre is the social club for the 55+ crowd! It’s a perfect  place to socialize, meet new friends, and take part in many daily activities. LSC provides social recreation, health, fitness and special interest activities to keep members active and involved. LSC provides services to over 350 members, and annual membership is only $20. More…

Ladysmith Newcomer’s Club (LNC)

Just arrived in Ladysmith and looking to make new friends? Need help with a specific need for your family or business but don’t know where to start? Or are you looking to move to Ladysmith from afar and need help landing safely? The LNC is a social club where new residents can meet and interact through fun activities and events. More…

Arts & Culture Organizations

Ladysmith Arts Council

The mission of the Arts Council of Ladysmith is to enhance the vitality of the artistic community through enrichment and developing the arts through education, exhibition and engagement. Their goal is to bring together artists & arts lovers of all styles and mediums, and provide artistic opportunities and experiences within the community and surrounding areas.  The volunteer-run Waterfront gallery hosts monthly exhibitions and can be rented for private art shows and events.  More…

Ladysmith & District Historical Society

Promoting awareness of Ladysmith’s history and operating a museum at 721 First Avenue, the Historical Society has helped preserve Ladysmith heritage since they were incorporated in 1999. They administer the Ladysmith Archives, which provides free, public access to thousands of documents related to the history of the Ladysmith area. More…

Ladysmith Maritime Society

The Ladysmith Maritime Society serves the local community by operating a maritime museum, restoring heritage boats, operating the Ladysmith Community Marina, providing summertime harbour tours, and hosting the annual Ladysmith Maritime Festival event. More…


Whew! I know, it’s quite a list! I hope it helps you get a sense of the volunteer opportunities in this great town. A word of warning, though: you may end up joining more than one of these organizations – it’s happened before!

Thanks for reading! The next instalment will highlight the sports clubs and event committees available in Ladysmith.

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Ladysmith Day-Trip Diary #1: Chemainus

Vancouver Island is FULL of wonders, and Ladysmith is in the middle of it all!

Drive time from Ladysmith: less than 10 minutes

Getting There from Ladysmith: A quick, panoramic oceanside drive from Ladysmith, down the appropriately-named Chemainus Road, lies the idyllic town of Chemainus. This charming community of around 3,000 folks is famous for its outdoor “gallery” of over three dozen painted murals on the sides of local buildings. Chemainus also has an excellent theatre in a grandiose domed building. In 2006, a Boeing 737 airplane was sunk off the coast to form an artificial reef about a hundred feet down. It’s quite popular with free divers!


If you have the time, though, another great way to get to Chemainus from Ladysmith is to walk, hike, run, or bike along the Cowichan Valley Trail, a relatively wide, flat gravel pathway that winds through lush rolling farmlands, three types of forest (BC Maple, random coniferous, and the other kind – I’m not a botanist…), and some lovely residential back yards. Along the way you may see some deer, some bunnies – essentially the whole cast of Bambi – and also some horseback riders, cyclists and other assorted wanderers.

Along the Cowichan Valley Trail

There’s also a seven-foot-tall carving of a mother heron with her babies, just incongruously installed in someone’s backyard.

Heron statue along the Cowichan Valley Trail from Ladysmith to Chemainus

From the Coronation Mall parking lot in Ladysmith, you head down the bike path alongside Chemainus Road until just past Gourlay Janes Park, a relatively undiscovered gem down by the water. After that you cross the road (carefully!) and hit the trail proper. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you pass the lemonade stand.

Roughly 9km along the trail from your start at Coronation Mall, you’ll reach the Sawmill Taphouse at the outskirts of Chemainus – definitely worth a stop. They have a couple dozen Pacific Northwest craft beers on offer, and you can get a sampler “flight” of six half pints (they call it “tap dancing”) to go along with your oven-fired pizza or farm-to-table tapas. 


About a kilometer further on, once you’re in the town proper, you’ll want to check out the Water Wheel Park for some shade and rest – sometimes there’s music on the bandstand, and you can also get on a horse-drawn carriage or trolley tour of the world-famous murals around town! (Fun fact – I used to be a mural tour guide, way WAAYY back in the day!)

Water Wheel Park in Chemainus

And no trip to Chemainus would be compete without tickets to a show at the Chemainus Theatre Festival. Performances run year-round; be sure to get dinner reservations as well, the buffet is fantastic but the desserts are to die for.

Chemainus Theatre Festival Building

So there you have a great day out from Ladysmith – down the road or on the trail – in lovely Chemainus!

Thanks for reading!

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Ladysmith Love Letter

I guess I just really love this town. 

For years now, I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to tell the world about it, and wanting to keep it a secret – but I’ve made my decision, so here’s my Love Letter to Ladysmith.

It’s a small town, but it’s close to everything you could ever need. It has quaint shops and eateries, and a great sprawling beach with a spray park and playground. There are hiking and biking trails galore, with little undiscovered gems of nature everywhere you look. The people are friendly, and there are more volunteer organizations than you can shake a stick at. The weather is the mildest in Canada, and there’s something to do every day of the year. 

Ladysmith rolls up from the Pacific on undulating hills, offering ocean views on just about every street corner. Hardly a day goes by without seeing an eagle or two soaring in the skies. Nestled amid water, forest and mountain, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Note to gardeners – things grow here, often of their own accord.

In the Middle of it All

For transportation purposes, Ladysmith is about 10 minutes away from an airport that’ll get you to Vancouver, Calgary and beyond; the Duke Point ferry terminal is just a bit further up the road; and for the adventurous, the float planes arrive and depart from the Nanaimo Harbour, about a half hour’s drive away.

For concerts, movies, and your big-box store / chain restaurant requirements, you’ve got Nanaimo to the North and Duncan to the South, both about a 20 minute drive from Ladysmith. There are farmer’s markets even closer by. 

Russell Farm Market & Garden Center, a few minutes down the road

Day trips will take you to up and down the Island and all it has to offer: alpine adventure awaits at Mount Washington, the world-famous Butchart Gardens beckon from the Saanich Peninsula, and the ancient cedars of Cathedral Grove are just a stone’s throw from Coombs Country Market and the goats on its roof. 

But closer to home, the enticements of the Ladysmith area itself are as pleasant as they are diverse. 

Dining in Ladysmith ranges from a British Pub to a Tapas Bar to a Creperie, as well as Indian and Asian delights. Vegetarian and Gluten-Free eating experiences are available, as well as good old fashioned Fish & Chips. And the Olde Town Bakery’s cinnamon buns are the BEST you’ll find on the Island (full disclosure – I’m strongly biased in that opinion).

Tasty Treats at the Olde Town Bakery in Ladysmith

The local Holland Creek trail system offers a leisurely stroll on the town side, and a more challenging hike on the wild side opposite the creek. It’ll also lead you up to Heart Lake, a quiet, reflective spot to catch your breath after the long climb up the hill.

I could go on.

And I will! 

Transfer Beach is a wonderful spot for families to spend the day, with rolling lawns, a giant playground and splash park, and a sand court for beach volleyball enthusiasts. There is also a picturesque amphitheater for community gatherings, concerts, and ‘selfie opportunities’. Kayak rentals are available, and fish are jumpin’.

Splash Park at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith

For the cultured soul, Ladysmith has an Art Gallery, a Museum, and a “Little Theatre”. The High School music and drama programs are also excellent, if you’re fortunate enough to get a ticket to a performance. 

Special events in Ladysmith happen with regularity throughout the year. The Summer brings concerts in the park, parades, and fireworks at the beach. There’s a Maritime festival that’s always a hit with families, and for those of a more automotive nature, there’s a “Show and Shine” and a “Brits on the Beach” event every year. And of course, when the weather turns cold, there’s always the Ladysmith Light-Up Festival and Parade to look forward to in late November. Remember the town of “Whoville” in Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch who Stole Christmas”? Well, that’s pretty much Ladysmith throughout December and January.   

The Ladysmith Festival of Lights Parade, during the Fireworks Spectacular

To sum up, life on Vancouver Island is pretty sweet – and life in Ladysmith puts you close to all the Island has to offer. It’s a great place to be!