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Taking the train from Ladysmith

I’m going to visit my friend Yuri in Ladysmith this weekend… he’s the older brother of my friend Geordie.

It’s a lovely seaside community just south of Nanaimo. About 7,500 people live there. My mother and all her siblings were born and raised there. It’s also my grandmother’s hometown.

The only relatives I have there now are in the graveyard.

I’ll be taking the Greyhound bus down there tonight, but thought it’d be fun to take the train on the way back. For those of you who don’t know, there is still passenger rail service on Vancouver Island from Victoria to Courtenay. It runs each direction only once a day on these one-coach passenger trains called “dayliners” which look like giant subway cars.

I go on the website to book tickets. But nowhere on the site does it list the location of the stop in Ladysmith.

I know there is an unmanned station in Ladysmith but I can’t seem to find an address.

When I phoned the Via Rail customer service line this morning the agent was unhelpful. He merely repeated the information that was on the website. He did not tell me the location of the stop.

When I called back at 1 p.m., however, I spoke with someone named Dennis who was very helpful. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to tell me much more than the previous agent, but he made a concerted effort to locate it.

Instead of reading back what I already knew from the website, he took the time to speak with someone else to see if there was any more information they could provide. When he returned to the phone he explained why the information was unavailable to him and offered helpful suggestions as to where I might find it.

I did some power Googling and learned a lot about Ladysmith’s old train station, which looks like this:


I went to the homepage of the Ladysmith Historical Society and found this entry on it:

The original station was a rather elaborate two story building. The railway was the primary means of transportation until the arrival of the automobile. Even after that the Island Highway was interrupted by the Malahat. Once the road over the Malahat was built the importance of the railway, and its revenue, rapidly declined.

So,  I found all this cool stuff about its history but was still unsure as to where exactly the station is and if a train still stops there. So, I called Ladysmith’s City Hall and they confirmed its location for me.

I’ll be taking the train up to Wellington, which is actually the northern part of Nanaimo. It used to be its own town with opera houses, hotels and the like but sometime around the turn of the century most of the buildings were loaded up onto the train and shipped to Ladysmith where many still stand.

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