The Town of Ladysmith is located about 23 kilometres south of Nanaimo and 88 kilometres north of Victoria. The population is 8,537 (2016) and rapidly growing as more and more people discover the beauty of this hidden gem.
As a community, Ladysmith has a strong spirit and immense pride. Originally designed and laid out in 1904 by coal baron James Dunsmuir, as a community for his mine workers, the town has evolved into a diversified and vibrant community that delights locals as well as visitors with its natural setting, thriving commercial centre and full range of services and amenities.
The historic downtown provides a locally owned unique shopping experience, offers world class cinnamon buns at the Old Town Bakery on First Avenue and fresh sandwiches on home-made bread at In the Beantime Café on High Street. Ladysmith prides itself on being a community that offers activities, festivals, outdoor recreation and special events to suit every taste. The Festival of Lights in the downtown area, taking place each year from late November through to January, is not to be missed. Visitors and locals also flock to Ladysmith’s Transfer Beach for kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and picnicking with many families spending hours of enjoyment at the waterpark and playground structure.
Reasons to live in Ladysmith
Today, the town is a thriving, progressive community. The emphasis on sustainability in recent years has earned the Town of Ladysmith, an award as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers by Mediacorp Canada, every year since 2012.
Being ‘green’ has become a way of life and the Town’s Sustainability Vision outlines key pillars of sustainability for the Town. These include green buildings, innovative infrastructure, healthy community, low impact transportation and more. Visit the Town of Ladysmith website at www.ladysmith.ca for more information about their sustainability vision.
Ladysmith is also a bustling hub for young families and offers a multitude of resources and programs to meet the needs of children from infancy to graduation. The Ladysmith Family and Friends Program offers a Monday-Friday drop-in centre for children and their caregivers that is attended by 5000 families per year!
With nature trails (the Heart Lake Loop and Holland Creek Trail system are perfect Sunday morning hikes), sports fields and parks; as well as, beaches, a natural 8 kilometre harbour, and so much more, it’s no wonder Ladysmith has become a sought after place for people to call home. With a small business friendly attitude and its focus on sustainability in the long term, Ladysmith is a community for the future.
Saltair, known by locals as “Sunny Saltair”, is an unincorporated community located on the east coast of Vancouver Island between the towns of Ladysmith and Chemainus
. With a population of approximately 1,800 residents, this largely rural community has panoramic ocean and mountain views, making it a highly desirable location for homeowners.
Saltair sits on the border between the Cowichan Valley Regional District (Duncan) and the Town of Ladysmith. Because of this, residents can choose to access services and schools in either Chemainus or Ladysmith, both of which are nearby and offer all the amenities more often found in larger communities.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Saltair offers hiking and biking trails, boating and more. Saltair’s Centennial Park is a multi-sport community park featuring picnic areas, a playground, sports fields, sports courts and tennis. If fishing is your favorite pastime, there’s Steelhead, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout right at your fingertips. The best fishing is April through June and again in September through October.
Reasons to live in Saltair
Because the community is unincorporated, those seeking home ownership in the Saltair area will find lower taxes, larger lots, fewer building restrictions, a healthy community water supply and more privacy and solitude then in the neighbouring communities of Chemainus and Ladysmith.
The Official Community Plan for Saltair focuses on protecting the rural lifestyle and sustaining the community water supply by limiting population growth and setting limits for urban expansion. Home based businesses are widely accepted as they provide a greater lifestyle opportunity, reduce car travel and boost the local economy.
Residents of Saltair often work in Ladysmith, Chemainus, Nanaimo or Duncan and can be at their place of employment without sitting in traffic or commuting for long periods of time.
Situated just a short drive south of Nanaimo, Chemainus is a small town of about 4,000 residents and is a thriving community favoured by local artisans.
Chemainus is famous for its’ 40+ murals and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Particularly in the warmer months, the streets are filled with people enjoying the unique restaurants, markets, wineries, brew houses, art galleries, horse-drawn carriage rides and music in the park. Other highlights of the area include the famous Chemainus Theatre, which offers year-round productions and live dinner theatre events. If you are visiting with little ones or are young at heart, make sure to stop by Hansel and Gretel’s Candy Company on Willow Street for an authentic candy store experience!
Founded in 1858 as a logging town, Chemainus was originally a resource-based community and industry was the main source of employment for locals. Chemainus has evolved over the years to include smaller industrial and manufacturing companies, tourism related businesses and many specialty businesses. Many residents have lived in the area for generations and wouldn’t live anywhere else!
As well as offering art, culture and history, this lovely town is also a great place to be outdoors. Hiking, biking, marine sports, lake swimming, ocean beaches, clubs and parks are all at hand. The area also offers a fully serviced ice arena, skate park, youth centre and thriving Early Years Programs for children. While Chemainus may be considered off the beaten path by some, its proximity to larger communities such as Ladysmith, Duncan and Nanaimo make this worth a look if you want a quieter lifestyle, while still remaining close to all the amenities of a larger city.
Situated approximately halfway between Victoria and Nanaimo, the city of Duncan is home to a population of just under 5,000 residents. Duncan is nestled in the middle of the Cowichan Valley Region which has a population of around 80,000 people.
Duncan is known for having the world’s largest collection of totem poles --there are 80 of them, all constructed in the late 1980’s. Visitors and residents can tour the totems by following the yellow painted footprints around town. It’s an enjoyable stroll to each totem where you’ll learn about the artist who created each piece, as well as the meaning of each totem. Other highlights in the area include the World Largest Hockey Stick and Puck located at the Island Savings Centre! With festivals and events throughout the year, as well as museums, galleries, a recreation centre, shops and restaurants, Duncan has become a thriving community with strong community ties. It has all the modern amenities but has somehow held on to it historic charm and prides itself on showcasing local, organic and “green” vendors. While in town make sure to check out the Duncan Garage Café and the Community Farm Store at 330 Duncan St. You will not be disappointed by the delicious organic, vegan and vegetarian options.
Reasons to live in Duncan:
Outside of the small city centre there is a thriving farming and eco-tourism industry. Many locals enjoy living on property that backs onto vineyards, orchards and blueberry farms. There are also many homes that enjoy ocean views and waterfront decks as the Cowichan Region not only has beautiful ocean beaches and multiple marinas, but also has many local swimming spots on the Cowichan River.
The real estate market in Duncan maintains steady values and offers a wide range of home styles and price points. You can find property from around $70,000, all the way to a million dollars or more. There’s a home to suit everyone’s taste and budget. Locals commonly commute to Nanaimo or Victoria from
Nanaimo, known as The Harbour City, is situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island. With a population of approximately 83,810 (2011 Census), this small city is spread over approximately 91 square kilometres and provides for an active, outdoor lifestyle to suit any taste. There are over 880 hectares of City Parks, 12 off leash areas to take your dogs, over 173 kilometres of trails, 70 playgrounds, 26 sports fields and 30 ball diamonds.
Nanaimo also has a great public-school network, with over 30 elementary and secondary schools, including a strong French immersion program. There’s also a private school, Aspengrove, which is part of the International Baccalaureate World School Program. Nanaimo is also home to Vancouver Island University, which attracts international students from all over the world. With a strong commitment to the revitalization of the downtown area, the City has created a beautiful harbor front walkway; as well as, a new museum, art galleries and an abundance of shops and dining options, all within the walkable downtown core.
Reasons to live in Nanaimo:
Compared to other major cities in BC Nanaimo is affordable. It is also a safe community to raise your family, or to retire to. With activities and events throughout the year, you’ll never be bored. There is always something to keep you active and busy, no matter your age or physical abilities. Nanaimo has all the amenities of a large city, without the hassle of gridlock or long commutes.
- Taryl Sutherland
- Diane Finnie
- Stuart Brooks
- Steve Wareing