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

Adam Ireton holds his son Weston, along with Kristen and Beckett as they celebrate Weston's last day of treatment for lukemia. (Kristen Ireton photo)
799 days: ‘Super’ Weston defeats cancer

North Island kid celebrating the end of a battle that has taken up the bulk of his life

Artists, activists and supporters stand at the ‘More Justice, More Peace’ mural in Victoria’s Bastion Square after the letter ‘S’ was painted over in black. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
ACAB removed from Victoria’s More Justice, More Peace mural

New message points to VicPD, City of Victoria for silencing BIPOC voices

(file)
Province rejects Parksville needle bylaw as counter-productive to health and safety

Mayor says he fails to understand the logic against proposed limits on hypodermic distribution

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An illustration was given to the Parksville’s Church of the Ascension by a person, in appreciation for allowing use of its shower facility. (Mike Favero/Submitted photo)
Parksville church makes showers available to the homeless

Pastor receives special illustration from one appreciative person

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Thousands filled Centennial Square in June for the peace rally for Black lives, sparked by outrage over the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
Survey seeks input on racism in Greater Victoria

Confidential answers to inform work with immigrants and marginalized people

Cousins Zoe, Charlotte, Oscar, Levi, and Maysa admire the Shoebox gift they have filled for a child overseas. The Operation Christmas Child campaign is proceeding as usual in the Comox Valley and across Canada.
Operation Christmas Child starts up for the season in the Comox Valley

Operation Christmas Child’s annual shoebox campaign is starting up in the Comox… Continue reading

Academic Edge runs at North Island College in Courtenay. Photo courtesy NIC
NIC and VIU launch regional work-integrated learning hub

Aim to create new, mutually beneficial opportunities for students and employers north of the Malahat

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

The Comox Valley Airport had a recent flight arrive with a confirmed case of COVID-19. File photo
COVID-19 exposure on flight into Comox

WestJet flight 3315 from Calgary to Comox was identified with a case

Most Read