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

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

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Port Alberni’s Isha Rai picked up her Coldest Night of the Year toque outside of the ACAWS office on Saturday. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Nine-year-old raises $3K for Coldest Night of the Year

Port Alberni’s Isha Rai was highest-earning participant in annual fundraiser

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
Vancouver Island children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of Vancouver Island’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

One of the approximately 1,200 street lights within the city of Parksville that will be changed to 3000 Kelvin LED under BC Hydro’s Streetlight Replacement Project. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville to go ahead with 3000K streetlights for BC Hydro project

Concerns about excessive brightness and resident privacy raised

(Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Wexford Creek home in Nanaimo declared over

Social visits resume at south Nanaimo facility today, Feb. 27, says Island Health

(Black Press file)
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools reports COVID-19 exposure at Cedar Elementary

School district says Island Health has completed contact tracing

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

The Township of Esquimalt will finalize its plastic bag ban in March, after receiving approval from the province for its proposed bylaw. (THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo/Paul Chiasson)
Plastic bag ban coming soon to Esquimalt

Municipality set to enact bylaw outlawing single-use bags in March

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Most Read