Author Elaine H. MacDonald has written a history of the first thirty years of Festival of Lights. (Mike Gregory Photo).

Ladysmith Festival of Lights’ 30-year history detailed in new book

A local author worked for months conducting interviews and reading through primary source material in the Ladysmith Archives to complete a new book published by Festival of Lights telling the first 30 year history of the widely-known holiday community event.

Elaine H. MacDonald and her husband moved to Ladysmith from Victoria in 2012 and from there quickly became involved in the Festival of Lights, setting and taking down lights.

“I’d driven past Ladysmith many times on the highway and thought that looks like a nice place. It has a good feel,” she said.

A self-described “hobby writer” for most of her life, from dabbing in poetry and short stories and even an opera libretto, she’s now found more time after retiring to Ladysmith to independently publish her first novel last year called All of These Secrets.

FOL colleagues aware of her success, current director and past president Greg Edwards pitched the idea to write the 30 year history.

“I just started going through all the information that was available. Mostly minutes of old meetings but going to the Ladysmith Archives, where the volunteers were very helpful to me,” she said.

She was helped along by interviewing those who have been involved in the success of Festival as well as reading through older edition of the Chronicle.

“So many people ask how does little Ladysmith do this and so I thought I want to create a history not just for Ladysmith but for somebody in another town who might be curious,” she said.

“Really it comes down to make a plan, raise money and turn on the lights and that’s really the process over and over again.”

But really it’s also all about the volunteers and the book, which is organized by year, includes a trip down memory lane with photos from years past and even a copy of the invitation sent out in 1989 to turn on the lights.

“The community volunteerism in Ladysmith is phenomenal and it’s partially because we have a core of ‘active seniors’,” said MacDonald, referring to the geography of the town.

“You have that core of people who have the time to do this and the health to do it.”

The author spent about three months of intense research before sitting down at the computer to start writing and the manuscript was finished in August.

“I found the whole thing really fascinating. Filling in the pieces of the puzzle that were missing was part of it,” she said.

“If there was one way to sum up the reason why Festival keeps on happening it’s that people are willing enough, healthy enough and tolerant enough to overlook the challenges and to carry on.”

The book is for sale for $25 at Pharmasave, Uforik Computers , the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce 49th Parallel Grocery Ladysmith, or from any Festival of Lights member.

Just Posted

Two Port Alberni cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Leaf Compassion and Cannabis Club ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

UPDATE: Tent city campers told to leave Oak Bay, given outstanding bill

Police department delivers $1,882 bill for damages from fall of 2017

UPDATE: Shots fired at home in targeted incident in Nanaimo

Shots were fired at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday in 500 block of Kennedy Street, say RCMP

Advance poll turnout way up for Saturday’s election

Interest in voting early evident across Vancouver Island

Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

“I beg you to start a process to put a stick in the wheels and slow these people down.”

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Nanaimo RCMP warn public after nine-year-old girl approached by motorist

Incident happened Wednesday morning near Park Avenue School

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Most Read