Situated at the northern edge of the Cowichan Valley on Canada’s 49th parallel is the enchanting town of Ladysmith.
Just east of the downtown core, across the Trans Canada Highway is Transfer Beach. It is so named because it was originally the location of a dock that facilitated the “transfer” of coal to Vancouver.
Founded at the turn of the century by industrialist James Dunsmuir as a place to house and entertain mine workers, the town is chock full of restored heritage buildings – vestiges of a frontier past financed by coal and lumber.
At the time, the dock featured the latest in technology and was the first of its kind on Vancouver Island.
The dock was designed with a network of train tracks that allowed Mr. Dunsmuir’s fully laden coal cars to be loaded directly onto barges, rather than being laboriously unloaded and turned around.
Today, Transfer Beach is a scenic park that features swimming beaches, a giant playground, a spray park, picnic tables, an off-leash park and a place to rent paddleboards and kayaks.
Transfer Beach also boasts the largest open-air amphitheatre on Vancouver Island, which serves as a venue for Ladysmith’s Concerts in the Park series held every July and August. Just northwest of Transfer Beach is the must-see Harbour Heritage Centre and Ladysmith Marine Society Museum, both of which have thoughtfully curated exhibits and displays that showcase Ladysmith’s eminent maritime history.
Transfer Beach Amphitheatre: 48.992146º -123.807990º