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Nicholson Block

436 First Avenue, Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2010/03/01

Nicholson Block, 436 First Avenue, Ladysmith, 2009; Town of Ladysmith, 2009
Front facade
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Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/04/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Nicholson Block is a two-storey brick Edwardian commercial building on the west side of the main commercial street in Ladysmith, British Columbia. The historic place is confined to the building footprint.

Heritage Value

The Nicholson Block is significant for its association with a defining event in Ladysmith history. During the Great Strike of 1912-14, meetings of the United Mine Workers of America were held on the second floor. Striking for better wages, working conditions and union recognition, the miners ultimately achieved none of these goals and, after two long, bitter years, the strike collapsed. Shaken and demoralized, the optimistic and expansive spirit of the pre-strike community was fundamentally altered and would not be recovered until the emergence of the logging industry in the late 1930s.

The Nicholson Block is valued for its association with early developer and community leader Donald Nicholson. Nicholson was a member of the first town council and served as Mayor in 1906 and 1908-1909. In addition to this building, Nicholson built Ladysmith’s first hospital, its first purpose-built school, the Opera House and several other early buildings. A section of road, still known as the Speedway, was graded and built by Nicholson, originally for use as a horse racing track.

Built in 1909, the Nicholson Block is a very good example of an Edwardian Classical Revival style commercial building. The building’s simple form, massing, and symmetrical facade reflect the transition from the more elaborate styles of the Victorian period to the restrained elegance of the Edwardian era.

The Nicholson Block is part of a grouping of largely intact historic buildings in Ladysmith’s commercial core. Situated mid-block, the building is part of an almost continuous city block of similarly proportioned historic buildings that collectively create a cohesive streetscape.

Associated with Ladysmith’s earliest development, the Nicholson Block has been in continuous commercial use for over a century and is a significant contributor to the heritage character of the area.

Source: Town of Ladysmith, Development Services Department, File #6800-40e

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Nicholson Block include:
- all of the elements of an Edwardian era Classical Revival style commercial building as expressed in the overall restrained appearance, simple form and massing, symmetrical facade, flat roof, brick construction with corbelled detailing, cambered arches on upper storey windows, and simple pilasters, frieze and capitals
- the building’s location within a group of similarly proportioned historic commercial buildings on the town’s main commercial street
- continuous use as a commercial building



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer



Donald Nicholson

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Ladysmith, Development Services Department, File #6800-40e

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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