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

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
Vancouver Island photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

Possible COVID-19 exposures may have occurred at Alexander Elementary School on Jan. 13, 14 and 15. (Google Maps)
Alexander Elementary in Duncan announces possible COVID-19 exposures

Exposures may have occurred on Jan. 13, 14 and 15

Victoria police arrested a man after at least 14 downtown locations were damaged Jan. 20. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria glass smashing suspect believed to be water taxi thief

Man arrested for damaging at least 14 downtown locations

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Victoria police are warning people of a continued rise in cybercrime. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
Victoria police warn of rising cybercrime called spear phishing

Fraudsters continue to trick people out of large sums of money

Most Read