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Chestnut Connection in Ladysmith, BC

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by Bruce Whittington, Mar 17, 2022.

  1. Bruce Whittington

    Bruce Whittington Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I live in the town of Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island, in BC. The town was established as a coal washing and shipping port by the union-busting coal baron, James Dunsmuir. He named the town to honour the British relief of the siege at Ladysmith in South Africa. He went further than that; many of the east-west streets in town are named for high-ranking officers in the Boer War: Methuen, White, Baden-Powell (founder of the scouting movement), Roberts (a main street in town), Gatacre, Buller, Kitchener and French. While researching my canoe restoration I learned in the book "When the Chestnut Was in Flower" by Roger MacGregor, that Lord Roberts was a diminutive and popular general, and was affectionately nicknamed "Bobs". This is the origin of Chestnut's small "Bobs (not Bob's) Special" canoe model. I also learned that the 17' cruiser I had restored, named "Cronje" was named for Piet Cronje, the leader of all Boer forces in the Free State. Cronje surrendered to Lord Roberts in February of 1900. I am not aware of any acknowledgement of the Boer fighters in Ladysmith. And I don't know why the Chestnut company chose to acknowledge them (there is also a Kruger model, a well-known name in South Africa). But for me, it was a fascinating link between my restored canoe, made originally in New Brunswick, and my adopted home on the West Coast. Bruce W.

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