Visiting Ladysmith

Nathaniel Christopher

I had a pretty good weekend.

Went to Ladysmith on Vancouver Island to visit my friend, Yuri.

He lives right on the ocean – his sofa overlooks the sea.

“What’s that strange glowing haze in the distance?” I ask.

“That’s light pollution from the Mainland,” he replies. I apologise.

He has no phone or internet connection. He relies on his iPod touch to connect with the rest of the world.

Yuri enjoying his breakfast
Yuri enjoying his breakfast

When I first arrived we visited the graves of my grandfather, great-grandparents, great-great-parents and other relatives in the cemetery. I’m hoping to connect with their spirits and memory.

It’s dark, beautiful and I’m a little scared… being in a wooded cemetery at night is a bit spooky. But I have a cider and Yuri tries to help me find the correct tombstones.

It’s all covered in snow… so we just sit on a pile of logs and drink the rest of our cider.

The next day, hung over, we visit the haunts of downtown Ladysmith, including the old Ladysmith Trading Company. That’s a department store that’s been in business for over a century.

It’s a real time warp.

It’s exactly the same now, as it was in the ‘50s when my mother and grandparents shopped there. Same shelves, layout and yes, even the same merchandise. They’re closing down for good pretty soon, and so all of the merchandise is on sale.

Vintage "hipster" underwear from the '70s
Vintage underwear

I bought a (new) $200 blazer from the ‘60s for only $20.

“You look nice in that!” says a man who I assume he works there.

“I don’t work here,” he tells me. “I used to, up until 1958 or so…”

“Did you know my mother at all? Her name was Eileen Smith daughter of…”

“Joan and Harold!” He booms.

His eyes light up and he grabs my hand and booms “I’m you’re cousin, Rick Kerley!”

Kerley’s my grandmother’s maiden name, so I’m related to him through her.

I came there looking for a tombstone, but instead found a living relative. It was really nice.

My newfound cousin Rick and myself... New sportsjacket! w00t!
My newfound cousin Rick and myself... New sportsjacket! w00t!
I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada who has blogged here for 20 years. I like to share my thoughts and feelings on my own online space. From 1998 until 2017 I worked as a journalist and I hope to use this website as an archive for all of my stories.

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