Ladysmith, British Columbia

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Town of Ladysmith[1]
Motto(s): Heritage by the Sea[2]
Ladysmith is located in British Columbia
Location of Ladysmith in British Columbia
Coordinates: 48°59′43″N 123°48′57″W / 48.99528°N 123.81583°W / 48.99528; -123.81583
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
RegionVancouver Island
Regional districtCowichan Valley
 • Governing bodyLadysmith Town Council
 • MayorAaron D. Stone
 • Total11.99 km2 (4.63 sq mi)
Elevation40 m (130 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Total8,537
 • Density711.9/km2 (1,844/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
Forward sortation areaV9G
Area code(s)250
Highways Hwy 1 (TCH)
WebsiteTown of Ladysmith

Ladysmith, originally Oyster Harbour,[3] is a town located on the 49th parallel north on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 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.

As of 2016, the population was 8,537. The area of the town was 11.99 square kilometres. Total private dwellings were 3,754. Population density was 711.9 people per square kilometre.


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 20 miles (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.[3]) The Town of Ladysmith was incorporated June 3, 1904.[3]

Dunsmuir thought this would be a fitting tribute at the conclusion of the Boer War (which ended in 1902). In addition to commemorating the end of the war by naming his town after Ladysmith, 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. The local high school yearbook published every year by the graduating class is called Spion Kop ("spy hill" in Afrikaans) in commemoration of the Battle of Spion Kop, a famous engagement (January 1900) in which the Boers defeated British troops during the Second Boer War.[citation needed]

Elliot Beach Park in Ladysmith, British Columbia

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.

The Seaforths first saw active service in the summer of 1912 when rallies by striking coal miners in the area around Nanaimo led to rioting. The miners were striking because of concerns about workplace safety: lethal gas explosions had already killed hundreds.[citation needed] A company from the Seaforths was sent to garrison the area and maintain the peace. Though not a shot was ever fired, peace was restored and maintained until the unit was called back to mobilize for war in August 1914.[citation needed]

In 2017 Ladysmith's historic First Avenue was named the best street in Canada by the Canadian Institute of Planners.[4]


The Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle, a weekly community paper on Vancouver Island with a circulation of 1,898, has been printed locally and was founded in 1908.[5][6] It is published every Wednesday.[6] It is circulated in the communities of Ladysmith and Chemainus, in central Vancouver Island.[6] It is archived online in the Google news archive.[5]


Ladysmith Secondary School is the only secondary school in Ladysmith. The area has three elementary schools: Ladysmith Primary School (Kindergarten to Grade 3), Ladysmith Intermediate School (Grade 4 to Grade 7), and École North Oyster Elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 7). École North Oyster Elementary is a dual-track school, having both French immersion and English programs.

Notable people[edit]

  • Pamela Anderson, a Canadian actress and Playboy Playmate, was born and lived in Ladysmith until the age of 12.[7]
  • Stef Lang, a Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer. Lang grew up and attended Ladysmith Secondary School.


  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  2. ^ "Town of Ladysmith". Town of Ladysmith. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "BC Names/GeoBC entry "Ladysmith (town)"". Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  4. ^ Planners name Ladysmith, B.C.'s First Avenue as best street in the country — CBC News
  5. ^ a b "Open house set for Saturday". November 1, 1978. Retrieved 2014-06-21. [The newspaper] has written the events of councils and school boards as they served their communities.
  6. ^ a b c "Black Press". Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  7. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°59′51″N 123°49′13″W / 48.99750°N 123.82028°W / 48.99750; -123.82028