By Jim West
During the middle of the September, Cheryl and I set off for the Canadian Gulf Islands. We ended up spending two nights in Ganges, three nights in Ladysmith, and one night in Montague Harbor. Ladysmith was a new destination for us, and we fell in love with the marina, the town and the area’s beauty.
Reading our reference books on the way to Ladysmith, located on the east coast of Vancouver Island 12 miles south of Nanaimo, we discovered that the town has four different marinas. Based on the recommendation in “Waggoner Cruising Guide,” we settled on Ladysmith Maritime Society Marina, the first marina on the way into Ladysmith Harbor.
The marina has a 450-foot guest dock with side-ties on both sides for a total of 900 feet of dock space. The mostly brand new dock has excellent water and electrical access. The marina museum houses historical displays, restored museum-class boats, and equipment representing Ladysmith’s coal mining and logging heritage.
The 10-minute walk to town is uphill, but when you get to the top of the stairs, the Ladysmith trolley awaits. The trolley’s six different routes all pass by the 49th Parallel Supermarket. The folks at the supermarket will give you and your groceries a free ride back to the marina.
We stayed on the trolley for four of the six routes and enjoyed a running dialogue from the driver covering Ladysmith’s history as well as some contemporary commentary about its growing pains. The town has an amazing number of parks and recreational facilities. We had never seen a horseshoe facility like the one in Ladysmith, which can accommodate 12 games simultaneously and has a viewing grandstand.
Other must-visit places include Old Town Bakery, which has a wide variety of cinnamon buns for breakfast plus a great deli for lunch. About a block down the street is Buoma Meats, an old-fashioned butcher with a wonderful selection that includes aged beef. We bought some steaks to grill one evening, and they were so tasty, we stocked up the next morning for the trip home.
With its friendly staff and nearby walkways for the dogs, the marina was a great, quiet place to spend a few days. Although we did not sample them, several restaurants came highly recommended.
Overall, we highly recommend adding Ladysmith to your list of cruising destinations. For more information, visit ladysmithmaritimesociety.ca.
P/C Jim West, AP, and his wife, D/Lt/C Cheryl West, AP, gave up golf to take up boating when they relocated from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest after retirement. As members of Bellingham Sail & Power Squadron, they enjoy cruising from south Puget Sound up into Canada aboard their trawler.