Located on the east side of south Vancouver Island, right on the 49th parallel, Ladysmith is a small but very pretty town built on the hillside overlooking the glistening waters of Ladysmith Harbor. One of the older settlements on Vancouver Island, the community was originally known as Oyster Harbor. It was built in 1899, by James Dunsmuir, son of Vancouver Island’s prosperous coal-mining family. The harbor was at one time, a miner’s camp and shipping port for coal brought by train from Nanaimo, Dunsmuir brought in many buildings by rail to this peaceful spot he had chosen.
There are about 7200 people living here today. The town was renamed Ladysmith in 1900. Today, the delightful little town of Ladysmith has a charming old-world setting, a pretty community with many of its original buildings restored or are under restoration. Take a leisurely stroll along 1st Avenue and see the results of this revitalization program. The buildings bring back memories of a frontier town built on coal mining and forestry. Ladysmith is serviced by the Cassidy Airport, situated 9 km north of Ladysmith, and the Island inland highway runs right through the town. Named in April 2000 by the Harrowsmith Magazine as one of the top 10 Prettiest Towns in Canada.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers, and lakes, Ladysmith is a great departure point for hiking, camping, fishing, and many other outdoor activities. The Holland Creek Trail System winds approximately 4 km along both sides of Holland Creek, offering an attractive walking route through the center of the municipality of Ladysmith. Hike up to Heart Lake, a 6.4 km hike from the head of the Holland Creek Trail bridge.
Ladysmith Harbor offers warm saltwater swimming, picnicking. Kayak rentals are available at transfer beach.
There is a municipal boat launch in the center of Ladysmith, it’s a great place to put in a boat and go exploring, Dunsmuir and Woods Islands on the north side of the harbor are fun places to see in the summer, while the lagoon at the head of the harbor is a great place to view the huge variety of migrating birds that visit.