Hamilton Mack Laing (1883-1982) was an important environmentalist (writer, scientist, artist), active from 1913-1945. He moved to Comox in 1922 and built his first home, Baybrook. After the death of his wife, he sold the home and some of his property in 1949. He then built Shakesides on his adjoining property.
In 1973, he deeded his 8 acre foreshore property and Shakesides home to the Town of Comox. This became Mack Laing Park.
On his death in 1982, his Will requested that his home be turned into a ‘natural history museum’. A sum of money was willed to the Town of Comox, to be put in trust for this purpose. That request was never honoured.
Further information about Mack Laing and his contribution to Canada is available on this site.
The Town possessed both of Mack Laing’s heritage homes, “Baybrook” (built in 1922) and “Shakesides” (built in 1949). In February 2015, the Town of Comox Council voted to demolish both homes. In August 2015, Baybrook House was demolished.
Demolition of Shakesides was prevented by the intervention of the Attorney General of BC, who informed the Town that Shakesides could not be demolished because of a Trust associated with the house.
The Town of Comox then appointed the Mack Laing Nature House Advisory Committee in December 2015, to “evaluate the potential of converting the existing Mack Laing House into a natural history museum.”
This committee, with 8 members (1 Town staff, 2 Councillors, and representatives from The Mack Laing Heritage Society, The Comox Museum and Archives Society, The Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society and two members of the community-at-large, had its first meeting on January 22, 2016.
The Committee completed its deliberations on April 29, 2016. It voted 2 in favour of retaining the house and pursuing an option that would have retained the house and created a community nature house, and 3 in favour of demolition (other votes were either invalid or not permitted).
This Committee recommended, by a bare majority, to demolish Shakesides House and create a virtual/online museum. Note that this option does not imply any commitment by the Town of Comox. It also does not take into account the cost of demolition and dumping fees, or remediation of the site after demolition. There are also legal costs associated with this option because in order to use the Trust for another purpose, and demolish Shakesides, the Town must apply to the Court and the Attorney General of BC.
View the MLHS Business Plan for Shakesides (presented to Comox Council in January 2019): ShakesidesBusinessPlan Oct29 2018sm
Sign this petition if you feel that, as the beneficiary of Mack Laing’s generosity, the Town of Comox should honour Mack Laing’s Will, and use the Trust funds bequeathed to them to restore Shakesides, and create the nature house/natural history museum Mack Laing wished. This community facility should focus on education about the natural world and recognize Mack Laing’s well-documented contributions to the history of Canada.
"I support the retention of Mack Laing's Shakesides House in Mack Laing Park, Comox, British Columbia, and the creation of a nature house/interpretive centre in the House, to educate in natural history, as Mack Laing stated in his Will and Trust. "In addition, I ask the Town of Comox to endorse this project and do all in its power to ensure that Mack Laing's wishes are honoured and upheld."