Posts Tagged ‘The Southenders’

The Southenders is an excellent collection of stories from the neighborhood we love. I really want to thank Laura Ramsey for putting this book together. Sometimes you will laugh, and other times you will be on the verge of tears. But I don’t see this book as only providing entertainment or “remember when” sentiments. The Southenders is a virtual text book of what constitutes a community and a constant reminder about what has been lost. Anyone interested in overcoming the social problems in the South End should study this book. It is a good read for anyone, anywhere, who seeks to restore the notion of community. As we now begin the process of developing a Neighborhood Plan, time would be well spent reflecting upon the nature of the old South End and consideration of the lessons rooted in its history.

On numerous occasions the authors mention “everything you needed was within walking distance”. Haliburton Street had about a dozen shops strung along six blocks; a supermarket, general store, fish and chips shop, ice cream parlor, butchers, a laundry, to name but half of them. They were all owned by local people.

What does this mean? Haliburton was an active pedestrian street. The more people you have on the street the less likely the occurrence of anti-social behaviour. Local ownership means money generated by sales circulates in the community. Such shops tend to buy local produce, which in turn helps the Nanaimo region. Neighborhood businesspeople are a stabilizing factor in any community. Walkability means less auto traffic and less need for cars. This means a quieter neighborhood, safer streets and less need to spend money on transportation.

Community rooted business helps create the situation where “everyone knows everybody.” This gives rise to a sustaining, secure, environment, most especially for children. In the old South End, children spent their days unsupervised and devised their own play. They could do this because their living situation was secure, a result of living in a true community.

There was ethnic diversity, but social and demographic stability, rooted in little divergence between wealth and poverty. Everyone, shop
keeper, miner or auto mechanic, had more or less the same level of income or as mentioned, “We were all poor by today’s standards.” No one was homeless. Though not mentioned in the book, housing was not overly expensive relative to income.

No one writing about the old South End mentions addicts, though some folks undoubtedly liked their “likker.” Happy people do not become addicts. Lack of community, which means lack of connection and lack of roots, creates “social anomie” often called alienation. Some people turn to harmful drugs to fill their empty, dislocated, fragmented lives.

Work was integrated into the community. While we do not wish to return to the the coal mines or have screeching saw mills in our back yards, the South End was a place of work. This was not a “bedroom community” but a 24 hour a day community. There was no commuting, people were only minutes from their work and could walk.

By the 1950’s the mines had closed and there were not enough neighborhood industries to absorb the work force. By the early 1960’s all across Canada, shopping centres were the new craze, and malls built in the 1970’s featured national chain stores, both sounding the death knell for many small neighbourhood shops.  Suburbs sprung up, with a greater focus on the back yard than front porch.

The stories in The Southenders reminded me of that front porch time, encouraged me to think about the future of the neighborhood as a community restored. I see once once again, an integration of residence, consumption, work and leisure. Shops along Haliburton, and not corporate logos either, but locally owned. Non-invasive businesses employing residents. Affordable housing, including housing cooperatives, low cost condos, secondary suites and lane cottages to maintain the demographic mix of working class, lower-income professional and small business people. New shops with apartments above them on the second and third floors. Allotment gardens for the apartment dwellers. No homeless, as they now have inexpensive rooms. Drug addicts receiving treatment, both detox and therapy. Expanded park facilities and a community centre hosting all manner of get-togethers. Less traffic and better conditions
for walking and cycling.

That’s what my version of a restored South End looks like. What do you see as the future of our neighborhood? Please don’t hesitate to share your vision with us, here, at What’s Up in the South End.

~Larry Gambone

New Book Celebrates the South End – Nanaimo Daily News

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It was the early thirties, not long after the stock market crashed, and times were tough everywhere. In Nanaimo, miners would get off shift at the Number One coal mine and walk home.  Just outside of the mine property was a big old run down house. The  family who lived there really felt the pressure of the times. The father hadn’t worked for two years and it was very hard to feed ten children on relief.

Out of necessity the children would go outside just at shift change and wait for the miners to pass. If any of the men had anything left from their lunches, they would gladly share with the children.

One day John Mackenzie gave one of the boys a Peanut Butter Log. Just as he was about to take a bite his brother yelled “Don’t eat ‘um Dick, it’s poop.” In disgust, Dick threw the cookie to the ground. The brother who shouted the warning jumped off the fence lightning quick and gobbled down the chocolate morsel.

I remember hearing that story when I was a child and to this day those Peanut Butter Logs are known as Don’t Eat ‘Um Dicks.

Submitted by: Glenda Nikirk (nee: Ramsay) b. 1958


We understand that there’s a recipe after this story, reprinted from The Southenders. If Nanaimo is famous for Nanaimo Bars, perhaps there’s a signature dessert opportunity for the South End here?

Laura Ramsay telling stories at her book launch

Laura Ramsay telling stories at her book launch

Laura Ramsay’s book, The Southenders, was launched on November 8, promptly selling out the initial run of copies.  But never fear, the staff at the new Nanaimo Museum are currently printing a second run right now.

So if you’re looking for that certain Christmas gift for someone with ties to the South End, this might be it.  You can pick it up at the Museum (call 753 1821 to ensure that it’s in stock)…a large book and 152 pages with lots of stories, newspaper clippings and pictures ranging from the 1800’s to today.  Reasonably priced at $14.95.

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Our monthly mini-litter pick-up is THIS Saturday, November 1

We’ll meet at McDonald’s for breakfast/coffee at 9:00 AM, and then fan out around 9:30 to clean up for an hour. Bring gloves and extra plastic grocery bags.  By 10:30, you’re on your way, and you’ve been able to meet your neighbours, help the community and do bend-over exercises at the same time..:)

Trashy Art Day, Saturday Nov 8, &Loan Gallery, 33 Victoria Crescent

Click below for poster:


We’ll paint our next batch of Art Bins between 11 AM and 4 PM. We’re painting a little differently this time…come and paint as part of a team. Learn some painting techniques, meet some new folks.  No need for you to be a great artist….just inspired to leave your mark on the South End and happy to work with your neighbours.  Come when you can…for the whole time or for a few hours.   Call Yvonne Vander Kooi for more info:  250.754.0677

Then between 4 and 6 PM, we’ll show them off at a Trashy Art Show at the &Loan Gallery, 33 Victoria Crescent.  The gala-gala event of the season, and a place to bump into some of Nanaimo’s most fascinating folks! Don’t miss it!

New bins will be placed where they are most needed.  Adoption papers for potential foster bin parents will be at the event.  If you can’t come to the event, but are interested in fostering a bin, call Sandra Zuccolini at Sandra’s Head-to-Toe Salon, 753-1394

Thanks to the City of Nanaimo for helping to support this event.

The Southenders Tea Party November 8

When Laura Ann Ramsay asked folks who attended the Strawberry Social at the 2005 Miner’s Picnic to complete the sentence: “I remember when….” she had no idea what that it would lead to a book. Titled The Southenders, this book has been a labour of love for her, and for the almost 100 people who helped by writing stories or assisting with the book production.

Divided into decades, stories start in the 1800’s through today…memories of people, places and events, with photos and newspaper clippings.

The Southenders will be launched at a storytelling tea party at the new Nanaimo Museum (in the convention centre)  on Saturday Nov 8 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. You’ll hear stories from 2 generations: Ruth Hunter and Muriel McKay Ross, as well as Jim Brice and Jim Robertson, who would likely be delighted to be called youngsters again…!

The book will be available for sale at the Museum; 152 pages, $14.95.  If you want to attend, please RSVP the museum at 753.1821 so you’re not left without a chair!

The Civic Election is Saturday November 15

Click on the link below to discover the type of devastation that you may cause by NOT voting:  (sent to one of our board members. Not meant to be related any Nanaimo candidate)

So you won’t bother voting, eh?

Now here is a simple and easy way for you to make a difference.

South End Votes

Well, it’s becoming pretty obvious that this coming civic election is big news  for those of us in the South End.  Our on-line forum, South End Votes is now receiving up to 200 visits a day. AND…EVERY candidate for council and mayor has answered the 4 questions we asked about:

1. · How they see the South End changing

2. · The problems stemming from Nicol Street

3. · Their 3 top actions on homelessness and affordable housing

4. · The motion to locate a multiplex in OUR neighbourhood.

You can read ALL of the responses on line. You can even post a comment and read what your neighbours are saying. Plus you can download a score sheet to help you decide who DESERVES your vote.

Just click here.

or here:


If you’d like to leave a comment or ask a question, just click on the RED title of this section.  You’ll see the complete article along with a section to write or read posts left by others.

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