town in British Columbia, Canada

Ladysmith is a tourist town of about 8,500 people (2016) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. A heritage town, it boasts restored buildings and beautiful Transfer Beach. It is known for its annual Festival of Lights during the third week in November. It was voted one of the top ten towns in Canada by Harrowsmith Magazine.

Understand edit

Elliot Beach Park in Ladysmith

The local economy is based on forestry, tourism, and agriculture. A hillside location adjacent to a sheltered harbour forms the natural characteristics of the community.

In 2017 Ladysmith's historic First Avenue was named the best street in Canada by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

  • 1 Visitor Centre, 33 Roberts Street, +1 250-245-2112. July & Aug: Daily 9:30AM – 5PM; Sep-May: M-F 9:30AM–4PM (closed over Christmas – New Year's); June: M-Sa 9:30AM–4PM.

History edit

Ladysmith Harbour

James Dunsmuir founded Ladysmith about 1898, a year after he built shipping wharves for loading coal at Oyster Harbour (now Ladysmith Harbour) from the mine at Extension, nearer Nanaimo. Dunsmuir, owner of coal mines in the Nanaimo area, needed a location to house the families of his miners. He chose to build the community at what was then known as Oyster Harbour, some 32 km south of his Extension mines. Many buildings were moved from Extension and Wellington by rail and by oxen.

In 1900, Dunsmuir renamed the town in honour of the British lifting the siege of Ladysmith in South Africa (28 February 1900) during the Second Boer War. (The original town of Ladysmith in turn took its name from Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith, known as Lady Smith, the Spanish wife of Sir Harry Smith, the British Governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner in South Africa from 1847 to 1852.)

Dunsmuir also chose to name the streets of the community after generals who fought victoriously in the Boer War. Included in this honour are Generals Buller, Kitchener, Baden-Powell, Methuen and Symonds. In addition, the town has left intact much of its original architecture, from the time of its founding. Surrounding features also bear the names of this era, such as Majuba Mountain.

Ladysmith has been notable in the history of the labour movement with significant unrest and violence during the major strikes of the 1913–1914 era. During this time militia were dispatched to put down unrest and protect property.

Get in edit

By car edit

A common way to get here is to drive from nearby Nanaimo. Ladysmith is 26 km (16 miles) south of Nanaimo and 85 km (53 miles) north of Victoria on Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway).

By bus edit

  • Tofino Bus (Vancouver Island Connector). Service to Tofino, Nanaimo, and Victoria, summer months only.

By plane edit

Salt Spring Air flies to nearby Maple Bay from Vancouver harbour, from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, or from any of the Gulf Islands.

See Nanaimo for Nanaimo Airport, which is north of Ladysmith.

Get around edit

Map of Ladysmith (British Columbia)

By public transit edit

  • BC Transit (Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System), +1-250-746-9899. Operates buses connecting communities within the Cowichan Valley, including: Chemainus, Cowichan Bay, Crofton, Duncan, Lake Cowichan, Ladysmith, Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake,. $2.50 for local travel.     Routes serving Ladysmith include:
    • Route 31 operates within Ladysmith.
    • Route 34 operates between Ladysmith and Chemainus (21-24 min). Operates multiple times per day from Monday to Saturday.
    • Route 36 between Duncan and Ladysmith (40 min). Operates multiple times per day from Monday to Saturday.
    • Route 70 operates between downtown Nanaimo and Duncan with stops in Ladysmith and at Nanaimo Airport. Operates multiples times per day from Monday to Saturday. Travel time from Ladysmith is 36 minutes to Duncan and 34 minutes to downtown Nanaimo. $7.50 per trip.

See edit

  • 1 1st Avenue. The town's main street, featuring vintage Edwardian buildings, many erected circa the town's founding in 1900 and now occupied by independent merchants: baker, butcher, restaurateurs, artisans, coffeeshop proprietors, shopkeepers, book dealers, and numerous antique and vintage shops.
  • 2 Ladysmith Gallery, 32 High St, +1 250-245-1252. Hosts monthly exhibitions. Free.
  • 3 Ladysmith Little Theatre, 4985 Christie Road, +1 250-924-0658. Box Office M W F 1-3PM. The Ladysmith Players Society presents dinner and lunchtime shows at the Ladysmith Little Theatre and performances at the Transfer Beach's waterfront amphitheatre and the Agricultural Hall.

Do edit

  • 1 Arts on the Avenue Festival (On First Avenue between Warren Street to Buller Street), +1 250-245-1252, . The annual event showcases works of the creative community in late August.
  • Pleasure cruising and kayaking are year-round options in Ladysmith's sheltered region of southeastern Vancouver Island. A good place to set off from is 2 Transfer Beach Park.
    • Sealegs Eco-Adventure Centre, 200 Transfer Beach Rd (within Transfer Beach Park), +1 250-245-4096, toll-free: +1-877-529-2522. Rent a kayak or Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board, and push off from the curving cement steps mere metres/feet from its beachfront eco-adventure centre. Join a tour, take lessons, upgrade skills, or purchase a kayak after taking it for a sea trial. Operates June to August.
  • 3 Holland Creek
    • Hiking: The Holland Creek Trail offers beginner-intermediate hiking trails that run from the water's edge at the southeast end of Ladysmith to viewpoints high above town. Hikers can also venture beyond the trail for more advanced treks.
    • Birdwatching and wildlife viewing are excellent in the area.
  • 4 Ladysmith Golf Club, 380 Davis Rd, +1 250-245-7313. A nine-hole low-cost par-three course.

Buy edit

  • The Antique Addict, 12 Roberts Street, +1 250-245-6533. Vintage collectables including glass, china, art, tools, lamps, mirrors and clocks, and a selection of new items including hooks, knobs, signs and chinaware. As of May 2023, the shop is temporarily closed, while it relocates to another location.
  • 1 Post Office Antique Mall, 340 Esplanade (Highway 1) (at the southwest corner of Highway 1 and Roberts St), +1 250-245-7984. Daily 10AM-5:00PM. A heritage superstore: 3 floors of antiques and collectibles.
  • 2 Coronation Mall, 341 Trans-Canada Hwy (at northwest corner of Highway 1 and North David Rd). 20 tenants anchored by Save on Foods, Rexall Drugs and BC Government Liquor Store.

Eat edit

  • 1 Old Town Bakery, 510 1st Ave, +1 250-245-2531. M-Sa 7AM-5PM. Soups and sandwiches, but people rave about the cinnamon buns in a variety of flavours.
  • 2 Wild Poppy Market, 541 1st Avenue, +1 250-924-8696. Tu-Sa 8AM-5PM. Breakfasts, lunches and gluten-free choices.
  • 3 Spice Hut Indian Cuisine, 510-A Esplanade Avenue (Highway 1) (intersection of Highway 1 and Gatacre St), +1 250-924-8222. Daily 11AM-10PM. Canadianized Indian food.
  • 4 Maya Norte, 18 Roberts Street, +1 250-924-1300. W-Sa 5PM-late. The best of Spanish and Mexican cuisine, especially tacos, tapas, and tequila.

Drink edit

  • 5 Fox and Hounds, 11 High St., +1 250-924-1747. Daily 11:30AM-10PM. British comfort food and 16 imported and local beers on draft.

Sleep edit

Connect edit

Cope edit

Newspaper edit

Hospital edit

  • The nearest hospital is in Duncan.

Go next edit

Routes through Ladysmith
Vancouver / Campbell River via  Nanaimo  N   S  ChemainusVictoria

This city travel guide to Ladysmith is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.