A speedboat that many consider an important part of Nelson’s heritage may be on display as part of the City’s proposed project of Hall Street Pier.
The Ladybird was built in 1922 by Bert Walton at Walton Boatworks and owned by barber Nelson Louis Gilbert. The 26-foot vessel, powered by a Liberty V-12 aircraft engine, began racing in the Kootenay Lake Regatta and won the 20-mile race eight times. She has been dubbed the Speed ââQueen of Kootenay Lake.
Retired in 1966 after running for over 30 years, the Ladybird was later donated to the former Nelson Museum, which restored it with funds from the BC Heritage Trust.
âThe ladybug is an essential artifact of Nelson’s athletic legacy,â Astrid Heyerdahl, executive director of the Touchstones Museum, said in an email. âIt is one of the most famous motorboats to have sailed on Kootenay Lake.
âThe Ladybug, like so many heritage objects held by the museum,â she writes, âcreates a direct link with an era, with collective memories and with an understanding of our past. As such, it is worth restoring, preserving, and exhibiting in the public sphere to educate and inspire.
The restored ladybug is in storage because it is too big to house at Touchstones.
The ship could be on permanent display in its own $ 426,000 temperature-controlled building as part of the proposed City Hall Street Pier project. This would be covered by a grant from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program with a large amount remaining to be used for other parts of the pier.
The one million dollar grant, which the city has requested but not yet received, is geared towards heritage projects and therefore depends on the Ladybug for its eligibility with the funder.
The city presented the Hall Street Pier project last year as a large grant-funded attempt to create ready-to-go capital projects to stimulate the economy during the pandemic, along with two other proposed projects that are still in the pipeline. planning stage: a new library and changes to the Civic Theater building.
At the January 29 meeting, the board discussed the cost of seven different options for the Hall Street jetty, each including or excluding certain elements: replaced piles, repaved jetty, floating docks, large awning, small awning and a ladybug exhibit building.
The Council has not decided which option to choose, preferring to wait to know which grants are approved. But there has been some discussion of the relative merits of including the ladybug.
The city’s director of public works, Colin Innes, explained that because the boat is a museum piece, it will need an attractive structure to house it.
âIt also has a huge safety and mechanical component which increases the cost,â he said. “It’s not just a box with windows in it.”
Councilor Rik Logtenberg was skeptical of including the boat in the project, which he said added no value.
âI understand it’s ancient history, but it’s just a goddamn boat, and I don’t know how interesting it is. You can walk up to Baker Street and look at old cars, it’s cool, but it gets old pretty quickly. I do not understand.
Councilor Cal Renwick said that in the past he had volunteered for Touchstones as a ladybug storage fundraiser. The boat, he said, would be a tourist attraction.
âIt’s part of our history, not much different from the streetcar, other than it doesn’t run on rails,â he said, adding, âwhen I first went to watch it, I didn’t ‘saw only the bow and I was very excited. “
Councilor Keith Page suggested that an extension of the Prestige building be created, adjacent to the jetty site, in order to reduce the cost of constructing and maintaining a free-standing building.
Councilor Jesse Woodward said the entire Ladybug Pier project would be a good combination of the past and the future for tourists and locals alike.
Logtenberg was not convinced and said the city should not seek grants for already expensive projects.
Mayor John Dooley said the ladybug was âoutside the scope of the need to renovate the pier, but we are envisioning a more visionary way of working with this waterfront.
âWith the Ladybug, the Lions Club is interested in getting involved and I have no doubts that a large portion of this $ 426,000 can be raised if the club or a community group of some sort gets involved. Our community is known to raise a lot more money than that if they are passionate about a project. “