Salt Spring Island Archives

Donate Now Through!


The History of the Town of Ladysmith

historical photo of the town of Ladysmith

The September 10 Salt Spring Island Historical meeting will have a presentation by the Ladysmith Historical Society on the History of the town of Ladysmith.

The Ladysmith area has been home to the Chemainus First Nation for at least 5,000 years. Their camps, resource harvesting places and special cultural sites existed the shores of Ladysmith Harbour.

Change began to take hold in 1884 when an E&N Railway grant to James Dunsmuir privatized many of the local lands. Dunsmuir opened a coalmine at nearby Extension in the early 1900s. Soon he needed a place to house the miners and a port from which to ship the coal Dunsmuir incorporated Ladysmith in 1904, naming it after the town of Ladysmith in South Africa.

Coal mining dominated the local economy in the first decades of the twentieth century. However, by the 1920s demand for coal began to decline. In 1931 the Extension mine was closed. The economy changed when the Comox Logging and Railway Company began logging in the area in 1936. By the 1940s, Ladysmith was the centre of several major logging operations.