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Nanaimo and Nanaimo's History

nanaimo1The first Europeans to find Nanaimo Bay were those of the 1791 Spanish voyage of Juan Carrasco, under the command of Francisco de Eliza. They gave it the name Bocas de Winthuysen.Nanaimo began as a trading post in the early 1800s; in 1849 the Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun ("Coal Tyee") informed the Hudson's Bay Company of the presence of coal in the area, and in 1853 the company built a fort known as the Nanaimo Bastion (still preserved). Subsequently the town was chiefly for it's export of coal.

Robert Dunsmuir helped establish coal mines in the Nanaimo harbour area as an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, and later mined in Nanaimo as one of the first independent miners. In 1869 Dunmuir discovered coal several miles North of Nanaimo at Wellington, and subsequently created the company Dunsmuir and Diggle Ltd so he could acquire crown land and finance the startup of what became the Wellington Colliery. With the success of Dunsmuir and Diggle and the Wellington Colliery, Dunsmuir expanded his operations to include steam railways. Dunsmuir sold Wellington Coal through its Departure Bay docks, while competing Nanaimo coal was sold by the Vancouver Coal Company through the Nanaimo docks.The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion killed 150 miners and was the largest man-made explosion until the Halifax Explosion. In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.

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Economy
The original economic driver was coal mining; however, the forestry industry supplanted it in the early 1960s with the building of the MacMillan Bloedel pulp mill Harmac in 1958, named after Harvey MacMillan. Today the pulp mill is owned by the employees and local investors and injects well over half a million dollars a day into the local economy. The largest employer is the provincial government with NCO Group call centre a close second. The service, retail and tourism industries are also big contributors to the local economy.A recent surge of higher-density real estate development, centred in the Old City/Downtown area, as well as construction of a city-funded waterfront conference centre, have proven controversial. Proponents of these developments argue that they will bolster the city's economy, while critics worry that they will block waterfront views and increase traffic congestion. Concerns have also been raised about the waterfront conference centre's construction running over its proposed budget. The current council is working hard to solve homeless issues, and has established a strong relationship with the provincial government to provide several hundred low-income housing spaces. Nanaimo has also been experiencing job growth in the technology sector.



BastionThe first Europeans to find Nanaimo Bay were those of the 1791 Spanish voyage of Juan Carrasco, under the command of Francisco de Eliz They gave it the name Bocas de Winthuysen.

Nanaimo began as a trading post in the early 1800s; in 1849 the Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun ("Coal Tyee") informed the Hudson's Bay Company of the presence of coal in the area, and in 1853 the company built a fort known as the Nanaimo Bastion (still preserved). Subsequently the town was chiefly known for the export of coal.

Robert Dunsmuir helped establish coal mines in the Nanaimo harbour area as an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, and later mined in Nanaimo as one of the first independent miners. In 1869 Dunmuir discovered coal several miles North of Nanaimo at Wellington, and subsequently created the company Dunsmuir and Diggle Ltd so he could acquire crown land and finance the startup of what became the Wellington Colliery. With the success of Dunsmuir and Diggle and the Wellington Colliery, Dunsmuir expanded his operations to include steam railways. Dunsmuir sold Wellington Coal through its Departure Bay docks, while competing Nanaimo coal was sold by the Vancouver Coal Company through the Nanaimo docks.

·        The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion killed 150 miners and was the largest man-made explosion until the Halifax Explosion. In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.

 


DowntownHistory of First Nations in Nanaimo
The Nanaimo area was originally inhabited by the Coast Salish Snuneymuxw tribe, who had several villages where the city is now located. Early European and Canadian settlers referred to their small community on First Nations territory as Colville Town, but the name was soon changed to Nanaimo, after Snuneymuxw, which translates as "a great and mighty people."

Nanaimo Coal Mining History-

Nanaimo became a coal mining town in the mid-1800s, when the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), better known for its fur trading operations, began to explore the rich coal deposits near the harbour. Many local neighbourhoods commemorate Nanaimo's coal mining history: Northfield, Newcastle, Extension, Wellington, and South Wellington are all former mining communities. In spring of 1854, the HBC ran a series of advertisements in British newspapers aimed at attracting skilled workers to the Nanaimo coal mines. The ads were a success, and in June of that year 24 British miners and their families set sail from London aboard the HBC's sailing ship Princess Royal. They finally arrived in Nanaimo on November 27, 1854 after a long journey around Cape Horn.

The Bastion
Nanaimo was protected from potential attack by the Bastion, an eight-sided armed building, which holds a commanding position over the harbour. Built in 1853, the Bastion served as a warehouse, defensive structure, and the HBC clerk's office. The clerk was responsible for the operation of the mine and the well-being of the settlement. While the cannons were never fired in defense, they were frequently fired to celebrate community events. Three floors of the Bastion are now open to visitors, with exhibits providing insight into what life was like in Nanaimo more than 150 years ago. Be sure to visit the Bastion at noon in the summer for the daily cannon firing.

History of Asian Communities in Nanaimo
No mention of the area's history is is complete without mentioning the history of Asian communities in Nanaimo. The Chinese first arrived here in the 1860s, and played an important role in the mining, service, and retail industries. Nanaimo has had a few different Chinatowns in its time, but the last was destroyed by a dramatic fire in September of 1960 .
Nanaimo was also home to a thriving Japanese community, which operated herring and salmon salteries on Newcastle Island, where fish was packed into fir boxes and shipped to the Orient. There was also a small Japanese shipyard in the area. Unfortunately, the Japanese community was dismantled in 1942, during the Second World War.

History of Sawmills in Nanaimo
Nanaimo's small logging and sawmill industry became more prevalent after the coal mines closed. In the early 1940s large scale forestry operations began to employ many local workers, and in 1950 the Harmac Pulp Mill opened near Duke Point. Harmac, still one of the city's major employers, uses wood chip waste from Vancouver Island sawmills to produce kraft pulp.
In recent decades Nanaimo's economy has diversified from resource extraction into regional service, technology, and science. The city is a center for fisheries research, as well as a variety of high-tech and Internet operations. Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo's south end offers a wide variety of excellent degree and trades programs, and is a big contributor to the city's skilled workforce.

Nanaimo Museum and Historical Attractions in Nanaimo
History buffs will delight in exploring Nanaimo's colourful history. Several Nanaimo heritage walking tours wind their way through older neighbourhoods, where you can learn about noteworthy buildings, people, and events. Markers and plaques provide directions and descriptions of the stops along the route.
To explore more of our community's heritage, visit the Nanaimo District Museum. The museum's exhibits feature the history of First Nations people in Nanaimo, the rise and fall of the coal mining industry, the forest industry, Chinatown, and the rich and diverse social life of the community. In the park next to the museum you can visit an authentic miner's cottage, and an 1889 Baldwin steam locomotive, which ran on Nanaimo's railway, the first in Western Canada.
Other historical attractions in Nanaimo include the Garden Memorial to Chinese Pioneers on Stewart Avenue, and the Vancouver Island Military Museum located at Rutherford Mall.

Nanaimo Parks

Bowen Park
Bowen is a 90-acre park located in downtown Nanaimo. The park is full of walking trails that meander past a nature centre, a lovely waterfall which is part of the Millstone River, colourful gardens and more. The park also offers lawn bowling, beach volley ball, several tennis courts, frisbee golf and an outdoor swimming pool. The Canadian Junior Football National Champs, the Vancouver Island Raiders, home field, Caledonia Park, as well as the Nanaimo Curling Club also call Bowen Park home.
Buttertubs Marsh Bird Sanctuary
Buttertubs Marsh encompasses 49 acres of natural wetlands and grasslands. The park's 4.5 km of trails make it easy to view the numerous wildlife that make their home here. This is an ideal place to spend a quiet afternoon just "hanging out" with nature. Also it is a terrific place to go for a nice jog.  
Morden Colliery Provincial Park
This is a must-see for anyone interested in Nanaimo's fascinating mining heritage. The park features Vancouver Island's only remaining coal tipple, built in the early 1900's. It's a twenty minute drive south from downtown Nanaimo.
Colliery Dams Park
This 28-hectare (70-acre) park encompasses the Upper and Lower lakes with hiking trails interspersed throughout. The park is crawling with wildlife, including deer, raccoons, pheasants and various species of birds. Muskrats live in the lakes. This park is worth a visit year-round as the mood and atmosphere change with the season. Like most of the parks in Nanaimo, it is an ideal place to go for an invigorating run.
Morrell Nature Sanctuary
The Morrell Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful network of trails that meander through a forest last logged in the 1920's. There is a lake and a big pond with wooden boardwalks leaning out into the water, as well as a lush, fragrant expanse of douglas fir and arbutus. Located in South Nanaimo, beside the Colliery Dams and the military base. This is a real must see for any visitor to Nanaimo.
Neck Point Park  
Neck Point Park totals 14.5 hectares (36-acre) and is surrounded by water on most sides, creating a lot of great beaches for exploring. This park is a favorite of schools for its easy accessibilty and incredible array of sealife.  The park is full of trails and includes a lot of picnic areas, parking and recreational areas.
Newcastle Island
Nanaimo's best daytrip for families. Ride a little ferry across the harbour to this huge park, where kilometers of forest trails join beaches and lookouts in a massive historic interpretation environment. Visitors to Nanaimo usually encounter this park as a large, undeveloped island on their left as they enter Departure Bay on the ferry. Newcastle Island was bustling in the elder days; it's been home to quarries, a fish packing plant, generations of First Nations residents, and coal mines. All of these facets are visible today as park installations and leavings.
PetroGlyph Provincial Park
Located at the south end of Nanaimo, where the Nanaimo River empties into the Northumberland Channel, Petroglyph Park is the site of hundreds of native carvings called petroglyphs, which are thought to be hundreds and even thousands of years old. They include carvings of mythological sea creatures, human figures, animals and more.
Piper's Lagoon Park
Piper's Lagoon Park is a piece of land loosely resembling a smoking pipe and is almost completely surrounded by water. Totaling 8 hectares (20 acres), the park has many look-out areas to enjoy sunsets over the water, sailing regattas or ocean wildlife. This is an absolute must see for anyone visiting Nanaimo. Much like Neck Point Park, this is a Nanaimo favorite for its views and abundant ocean life. It is a truely fantastic, satisfying way to spend a memorable afternoon.
Westwood Knoll
There is a beautiful little mound of rock with a great view of Westwood Lake and Mt Benson. the advantage of this spot is that it's only a ten-minute walk to get there from your car. Westwood Lake is a man-made lake that is quite busy during the summer months. There is a running trail that runs around the entire lake that is quite popular with local atheletes.

Things to do and see in Nanaimo

During the summer, see the artifacts and exhibits at the Bastion, a fortified tower erected on the waterfront in 1853. The Bastion is the oldest remaining structure of its type in North America, and is one of the few Hudson's Bay Company bastions still standing. You can watch the cannon-firing ceremony every day at noon in summer, complete with Scottish bagpipes and Highland dancing.

  • Nanaimo treasures a number of Historic Buildings, including The Miner's Cottage (1897) in Piper's Park adjacent to the Nanaimo District Museum, the Nanaimo Courthouse (1896), the brick-faced Earl Block (1888-1890), and the Palace Hotel (1889).
  • A 72-million-year-old palm tree fossil - the biggest fossil leaf ever found in Canada - was discovered in Nanaimo in August 1996. Salvage palaeontology of the site revealed exquisitely preserved specimens of the Upper Cretaceous Period, including dawn redwood, several fern species and many angiosperms. Unfortunately, most of the remaining fossil-containing rock has been excavated, crushed, and used as road fill for the Duke Point Road extension to the Duke Point Ferry Terminal.
  • The Nanaimo District Museum displays interesting exhibits covering the history of the region. The lower gallery features the Snuneymuxw First Nation and Nanaimo's coal-mining history, while the upper gallery features a social and economic timeline of Nanaimo's history including the history of Chinatown, our harbourfront, industry, retail, sports and education. Outside is an authentic miner's cottage and railway engine.
  • The Nanaimo Art Gallery at the University provides a wonderful panorama of the city. The gallery enlivens and enriches the Nanaimo and central Vancouver Island region with exhibitions and educational programming that encourage active public involvement with the visual arts. The Gallery also maintains Nanaimo's Permanent Collection of ninety-four works by local and international artists. Each spring the Festival of Banners has area artists creating a gallery of original street banners that are displayed on lamp standards throughout Nanaimo.
  • Bring the family to the fun-filled Bowen Park recreation park, which features a scenic waterfall, a nature centre, a children's barnyard, duck pond, swimming and wading pools, hiking trails and more.

Beban Park, Nanaimo's premier recreation centre offers activities for everyone including swimming, skating, tennis, playgrounds, basketball, golf, lawn bowling, multi-use trails, and playing fields. In late summer, Nanaimo hosts the Vancouver Island Exhibition (VIEX) on the fair grounds at Beban Park. The VIEX promises a delightful country fair weekend, with agriculture and horticultural displays, livestock competitions, a petting zoo, and live performances from some of Canada's biggest names in Country music.

  • No picnic or visit to the Nanaimo Waterfront would be complete without the Nanaimo Bar, a regional specialty that is actually a form of chocolate fridgecake. Try the variations of this popular Nanaimo tradition in many of the restaurants and bakeries.
  • Head up the hill to Nanaimo's Old City Quarter, off Bastion Street, to sample coffee bars, restaurants, several specialty boutiques, a delightful outdoor art gallery, an international specialty food store and home-decorating emporia. Browse through the antique stores and tour the historic railway station. The Quarter is a charming blend of heritage and new architecture designed to fit seamlessly into the historical ambiance of the area.
  • The flagship of Nanaimo's burgeoning arts and culture scene is undoubtedly the Port Theatre located in the heart of downtown. The Port Theatre, an 804-seat state of the art performing arts theatre opened in 1998, is host to international, national and local talent.

An arts tour in Nanaimo might include First Nation's galleries, the contemporary art gallery at the Vancouver IslandUniversity, Art 10, the Arts Council gallery and private galleries scattered throughout the surrounding area. Nanaimo is home to potters, weavers and doll makers and to one of only three Tozan wood-fired kilns in the world.

  • For a small fee you can ferry over to the Dinghy Dock Pub, a nautical floating bar off Protection Island.
  • The four-kilometer Harbourfront Walkway extends from the downtown harbour, past the modern seaplane terminal, through Swy-A-Lana Lagoon Park (Canada's only man-made tidal lagoon), over the pedestrian bridge, by the Nanaimo Yacht Club, and as far as the BC Ferries Terminal. The promenade is dotted with vibrant art galleries featuring First Nations and Canadian crafts and great restaurants.

Nanaimo Bath Tub Race  

  • Nanaimo hosts the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race, held in June every other year on the odd year. This two-week, 580 nautical mile point-to-point race circumnavigates Vancouver Island, beginning and ending in Nanaimo. Sailed in ten legs, the counter-clockwise course provides inshore, offshore and overnight legs through some of the world's most challenging and beautiful waters.
  • Visitors won't want to miss the world-famous Bathtub Race from Nanaimo's Downtown Harbour, around the local islands, and back to Departure Bay, held during the Nanaimo Marine Festival each July!
  • Beaches: Departure Bay offers great lengths of public beach on the town shoreline. Pick a location that appeals to you, park in one of the many access points, and stroll out onto the hard-packed sand. Also on the Nanaimo waterfront are Maffeo Sutton Park and Swy-A-Lana Lagoon Park. Although these two aren't in the same league as some of the larger stretches of waterfront farther north, they do provide convenient beach and picnicking locations on Nanaimo's sheltered inner harbour, and are beside a seawall walking, cycling, playground and in-line skating route.
  • Nanaimo is an ideal base for boaters wishing to explore the scenic Gulf Islands and surrounding areas. Charter and bare-boat rentals and guided tours are available.
  • The Trans-Canada Highway 1 leaves Vancouver Island at the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal, commencing its journey across Canada from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal north of Vancouver. The 4,849-mile (7,821-km) Trans-Canada is Canada's mythic highway, starting (technically) at Mile 0 in St. John's, Newfoundland, and ending in Victoria, British Columbia (also Mile 0).
  • Golf: Nanaimo and the areas to the north have seen the proliferation of golf courses with a view. Tee off on any of 20 golf courses within an hour's drive of Nanaimo. Courses range from family mini-golf and pitch 'n putt to demanding 18-hole courses with beautiful views. Located along the inner island highway is the Nanaimo Golf Club, a demanding 18-hole course with beautiful views of the water, and two 9-hole courses; Pryde Vista Golf Club and the Eaglequest Golf Centre.
  • Freshwater Fishing: Quennell Lake near South Wellington in Nanaimo is known for its good smallmouth bass and trout fishing, as is Holden Lake near Yellow Point. Long Lake and Brannen Lake are situated 3 miles (5 km) north of the Nanaimo city centre. They're both easy to locate on opposite sides of Hwy 19A. Follow Norwell Drive east of the highway to Louden Park on Long Lake, or Dunster Road west of the Nanaimo Parkway to Brannen Lake. There are trout and smallmouth bass at Long Lake, and cutthroat and rainbow trout at Brannen Lake.
  • Saltwater Fishing: For saltwater sportfishing information on licences, limits, and closures, contact the Fisheries and Oceans field offices in Nanaimo.
  • A good Windsurfing locale is Pipers Lagoon Regional Park, where you'll often find a stiff a breeze offshore.
  • Diving: Nanaimo and the Northern Gulf Islands are prime destinations for discerning scuba divers. Explore Nanaimo's first artificial reef, created by the sinking of the HMCS Saskatchewan, a retired Navy destroyer sunk off Snake Island in June 1997. The HMCS Cape Breton and Rivtow Lion are the largest artificial upright reefs in the world. Notable coastal dive spots include Dodd Narrows, the Gabriola Passage, Four Fathom Reef, Carlos Island, Porlier Pass, Clarke Rock and the popular night diving location, Jesse Island, which boasts at least three separate and distinct dive sites in very sheltered conditions.
  • Bungy Jumping: For those who prefer falling over walking, Nanaimo claims to be the home of North America's first and only bridge built specifically for bungee jumpers. Thrill seekers can experience the ultimate high at the Wild Play Element Park. You can watch or jump from this 140-foot (42-m) bridge above the Nanaimo River, located south of Nanaimo and signposted along the highway.
  • Hiking: Visitors looking for outdoor walks and hikes don't have to go far. The city and surrounding area offers an amazing range, quality and quantity of trails. Many are wheelchair accessible, while some challenge experienced members of the Sierra Club. The trail around Westwood Lake is the jumping off point for a myriad of trails that wind over the rugged Westwood Ridges and climb to the 3000-foot summit of Mount Benson. The trails are a favourite with local mountain bikers and various hiking clubs. Nanaimo boasts 23 mulched trails making up over 58 kilometres of paths. Seven locations of paved trails make up another 28 kilometres. The 19-kilometre Parkway Trailway winds alongside the Nanaimo Parkway, one of the most used trails in the city. The wild and natural trails at Cable Bay and Dodd's Narrows are popular, or you can spend the day hiking the 18 kilometres of designated trails on Newcastle Island.
  • Mountain bike enthusiasts accept the challenge of the Ultimate Abyss, perhaps the best-known trail on Vancouver Island because of its notorious technical challenge. The semi-loop trail begins next to the SPCA shelter on Harewood Mines Road. At the outset, the trail follows a string of power lines. The entrance to the trail begins beside power tower #24-2. Stay on the main trail and ignore all diversions. Much easier riding is found nearby in the Westwood Lake area, reached by following Jinglepot Road and then Westwood Road west of the city centre. More demanding trails lead off from the north end of the lake along Westwood Ridge.
  • Nanaimo's scenic harbour and the outer Gulf Islands are fabulous waters to explore by kayak. As much as the ocean dominates the landscape near Nanaimo, there are several freshwater lakes where paddlers will find serenity in a rural setting. You can put in at Hemer Provincial Park on Holden Lake or at nearby Quennell Lake. Holden's shape is rather straightforward, with only one major bay. In comparison, Quennell Lake is nothing but bays. The action at both is a good excuse for some paddling and perhaps cutthroat trout fishing. A short network of forested trails leads through the woods from the parking lot at Hemer Provincial Park to the west side of Holden Lake. Follow the signs a short distance east from Hwy 1 to reach Hemer Park. A backroad leads south of Holden Lake to Quennell Lake near Yellow Point.
  • A popular recreation and picnic spot in Nanaimo is Westwood Lake, located 5 km west of Nanaimo city centre, accessed via Westwood Road off either East Wellington or Jingle Pot Roads. The lake has a boat launch and is stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout, with best fishing from April to June and September to October. Great hiking around Westwood Lake and up to Mount Benson.

Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo  

  • Petroglyph Provincial Park, at the south end of Nanaimo, where the Nanaimo River empties into Northumberland Channel, presents a look back in time to a prehistoric period perhaps a millennium ago. Mythological creatures - sea wolves in particular - and symbolic designs have skillfully been outlined in the sandstone surface of the rock. Examples of this art form exist elsewhere in British Columbia, but rarely in such concentration as here.

A short, wheelchair-accessible walkway leads from the parking lot on the east side of Hwy 1 to an interpretive display of concrete moulds taken from the nearby petroglyphs. Visitors who would like to take away an example of this artwork can make rubbings on paper of the coffee-table-size moulds. The originals are just a short distance farther along the walkway on a hill that overlooks the Nanaimo harbour.

  • Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park lies just a few hundred metres off Nanaimo Harbour, beckoning to visitors to pop over and explore. The 336-hectare park offers an island shoreline dominated by steep sandstone cliffs and ledges, punctuated by beaches. Caves and caverns exist along the shoreline and provide a marked contrast to the interior of the island, studded with Douglas fir, arbutus, Garry oak and dogwood trees. Visitors can spend the day walking, hiking or cycling along an extensive trail system (18 kilometres of designated trails), or take 2-1/2 hours to walk around the island (8 km). Every inch of the island has a story to tell. Along the hiking trails, interpretive signs and actual remnants of the past will give you a glimpse into the daily lives of Newcastle's early residents. A passenger ferry leaves from Maffeo Sutton Park every 20 minutes and runs May through Thanksgiving weekend (October).
  • Pipers Lagoon Regional Park in Nanaimo has both a sheltered and an exposed side - take your pick of beaches on either one. The lagoon drains so dry that at low tide you can wander out to nearby Shack Island. The eastern shore of the park faces the Strait of Georgia, where a stiff wind is often blowing. A forest of Garry oak predominate on the narrow headland that shelters the lagoon. Wildflowers are profuse here in springtime and attract Columbia black-tailed deer out onto the beach. There's a public boat ramp at Pipers Lagoon Park, which lies nestled at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain, 3 miles (5 km) north of the BC Ferries Departure Bay terminal.

It's one thing to putt-putt around the sheltered lagoon, but quite another to brave the open water of Horswell Channel on the east side of the narrow headland that shelters the lagoon. Hunker down and watch the heroics as small boats battle their way towards the mouth of Departure Bay. BC Ferries vessels entering and leaving the harbour normally don't feel the wind's sting, but even they can get slapped around during the worst winter blows. That's when the action at Pipers Lagoon is often the most dramatic. If you like storm watching, this is a great vantage point. To reach the park, from Hwy 19 take Departure Bay Road, which follows the natural arch of the coastline around the north arm of Departure Bay. Turn east onto Hammond Bay Road and watch for signs to the park. The boat launch is at the end of Charlaine Road, one of two well-marked entrances to the park.

  • Roberts Memorial Park is a 14-hectare park 17 km southeast of Nanaimo near the coastal hamlet of Yellow Point. An atmosphere of transcendent serenity permeates the park. This peace is broken only by the barking of sea lions offshore and the mewling of sea gulls, great blue heron, and the occasional Pacific Loon. A peaceful walk through second-growth forest leads to a sandstone beach, a reward in itself. Picnicking, swimming and fishing are pastimes enjoyed in this serene little haven.
  • Wildlife: Spring and fall present remarkable opportunities to view birds as they travel along the Pacific Flyway. Some of the protected birdwatching havens where they pause and refresh themselves include Buttertubs Marsh, Morell Wildlife Sanctuary and Piper's Lagoon Park. BC Wildlife Watch has a viewing station at the Morrell Wildlife Sanctuary in Nanaimo. The sanctuary is located northwest of the Nanaimo Parkway's intersection with Nanaimo Lakes Road.
  • If camping is your thing, pitch your tent or park your RV in one of Nanaimo's remarkable campgrounds and RV parks.
  • Rail Adventure: Whether you are commuting, sightseeing or simply a train buff, riding the rails on Vancouver Island is steeped in history and adventure. Rail travel is still available between Victoria and Courtenay in the Comox Valley on the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island, formerly the E & N Railway. Scheduled stops include Duncan, Nanaimo, and Parksville. Along the way the train runs through Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Chemainus, Ladysmith, and Qualicum Beach.
  • Gabriola Island , known as Petroglyph Island because of its wealth of ancient stone carvings, lies 5km east of Nanaimo, reached by a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo to the BC Ferries terminal at Descanso Bay. In a pleasant rural setting of forested parks and quiet beaches, picturesque roads lead to sensational ocean views, and the sandstone shoreline can be walked almost indefinitely. The Isle Of The Arts boasts many artist's studios, galleries and delightful shops.
  • South of Nanaimo on the Island Highway is the spirited, picturesque community of Ladysmith, with streets lined with charming and restored heritage buildings. Further south, explore the mural-filled town of Chemainus, with its charming stores and restaurants and live performances at its popular theatre building. In Duncan , City of Totems, take a journey back through a century of Vancouver Island's logging industry at the BC Forest Discovery Centre. Take a tour of the totems in downtown Duncan by following the free map and painted footsteps and stop at Quw'utsun Cultural Centre to see an outstanding museum of First Nations exhibits, carving demonstrations, story telling and more. An hour and a half's drive away from Nanaimo is our province's capital city, Victoria, a visitor's mecca. British tradition abounds - take a ride on a double decker bus or horse driven carriage and enjoy high tea at the Empress Hotel.
  • To the north is the seaside community of Lantzville , once a small coal mining town. When the mines closed, the waterfront miners' shacks were rented out to city residents in search of a quiet cabin on the beach. Modern day holidaymakers enjoy the mild climate, gentle shores and fine beaches. You can go horseback riding in Nanoose, and the kids can enjoy the mini-golf in Parksville . Check out the goats on the roof at the famous Coombs Country Market. Visit Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park , one of the most popular beaches in the region, offering gorgeous beaches, interpretive trails, camping, and picnic areas. Go underground with an educational spelunking tour of Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park north of Parksville and marvel at the sheer beauty of Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. Hug a 600-year-old tree in Cathedral Grove near Port Alberni , also known as McMillan Provincial Park, a preserved stand of old-growth forest. Continue on to the West Coast of Vancouver Island for an opportunity to go whale watching, wildlife viewing, or in the winter....storm watching.

Port Theatre

Theatre1

The City of Nanaimo formed The Port Theatre Society in 1989 to build an 800-seat theatre on the breathtaking waterfront in downtown Nanaimo. The Port Theatre opened in September of 1998, thanks to grants from the Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Works Program and an outstanding level of community support. Of the $13.1 million budget, $8.6 million came from the Infrastructure Works program. The remaining $4.5 million was from individual service clubs and corporate donations, the City of Nanaimo and Regional District Areas A, B, C, D and E.The purpose of the Port Theatre Society is to stimulate and enhance artistic, cultural and economic activity of Central Vancouver Island.. The theatre is a focal point for residents and visitors alike, offering a broad range of cultural events designed to meet many diverse interests and needs. Programs involve local groups as well as touring attractions and provide access to events for families, seniors, youths and adults, thereby enriching the overall quality of life in the region. A landmark on the city's waterfront, it also serves as an important meeting place for a variety of community events, seminars and educational conferences. Over 250 events are held in the theatre each year attracting over 100,000 people. Architect of The Port Theatre, Terry Williams' goal was to build a theatre that had good sight lines from all seats, excellent acoustics and a wonderful sense of intimacy. Audiences have raved about these features since it opened.

Theatre3804 seats in total (604 on the main level and 200 in the balcony)   
28 seating areas accessible without stairs   
Excellent viewing from all seats   
Maple panels and cement walls enhance acoustics.   
The first two rows of seats sit on the orchestra lift. With the push of a button the lift goes down, the seats are removed and there is room for up to 34 musicians.
We can also put the lift at the stage level which creates a thrust stage out into the audience chamber.   
The sprung stage floor is built to withstand many tons of rolling scenery and yet is soft enough for dancers not to hurt themselves while jumping.   
The theatre has 48 line-sets for stage draperies, lights and scenery.   
The deep stage allows lots of room for performers and sets.   
Stage proscenium arch is adjustable: from 42 to 48 feet wide.   
Minimum of 12 computerized pieces of equipment to operate lighting & audio systems  

Nanaimo Shopping Information

Nanaimo is a shopper's paradise. From the big shopping centres with their nationally known chains, to small gift shops to the small private shops selling local artisans wares, Nanaimo has a store for every taste as well as wellet! With so many places to visit, plan your day and save time for some delicious little out of the way cafes we know you'll want to visit.

Shopping Malls
The main artery through town is the Island Highway, and it's strung with a great many shopping malls. There is also a bypass highway (the Parkway) connecting the two ends of the city and everything in between.

Woodgrove Centre - This is the biggest shopping mall in Nanaimo, with 150 stores like Walmart, Sears, Chapters and services, including Avalon Cinemas. It's at the farthest end of town in the north, on the way to Parksville and the West Coast.

Nanaimo North Town Centre (formerly Rutherford Mall) - North Town Centre is at the corner of Island Highway and Rutherford Road. It has about 50 stores, including The Bay, London Drugs, Best Buy and Zellers, good restaurants and other services, including Galaxy Theaters.

Country Club Centre - Over 50 stores, including a SaveOn Foods, Roger Video and a large Future Shop, as well as a couple of good restaurants.

Port Place Mall  - formerly Harbour Park Mall - This indoor mall has 45 stores, right downtown. It is scheduled for a huge expansion and needs a face-lift, but its Thrifty Foods, London Drugs and BC Liquor Store provide for a lot of our needs downtown.

Brooks Landing Mall - Formerly Northbrook, this is a strip mall with banking, a Home Hardware, Staples, a huge supermarket (the most Asian-friendly one), and more. It's just uphill from BC Ferries in Departure Bay.

University Plaza - Formally Harewood Mall, Located in Harewood between downtown and the University-College, University Plaza has a Value Village, Shoppers Drug Mart, Quality Foods and more. It is currently undergoing a multi million dollar expansion and is quickly becoming a destination point for local shoppers.

Terminal Park Mall - This outdoor mall is between downtown and Brooks Landing (see above). There is a Save-On-Foods, BC Liquor Store, a fish market, and more.

Southgate Mall - This mall is south of Downtown, almost out of the city. There's a Food Country grocery store here, and some restaurants, and a drug store, and more. Across the street are a Buckerfields and a new huge Rona hardware store and a gas station, a couple of fast food places, pizza, and a video store.

Grocery Shopping in Nanaimo
If you're looking for grocery shopping, you can just travel up the Island Highway, and near almost every major intersection is a grocery store. Most of the stores sell similar products so access and price point are your determining factors. There are several Save On food stores as well as two Thriftys and several Quality Foods. Most are easy to get to as they are mostly near major intersections. For those with a more "international palatte" there are several stores that offer foods from all corners of the world!

Nanaimo Schools

School District 68 has 31 elementary schools, seven secondary schools and two secondary alternate schools. Below are the schools listed by name, address and phone number.

Secondary and Secondary Alternate Schools Career Technical Centre - Location:Churchill

Cedar Community Secondary - Location: Cedar 1640 MacMillan Road, Nanaimo V9X 1L9 - 250-722-2414; fax:  250-722-3071

Dover Bay Secondary - Location: North Nanaimo 6135 McGirr Road, Nanaimo V9V 1M1 - 250-756-4595; fax:  250-751-3405

John Barsby Community  - Location: South Nanaimo 550 7th St., Nanaimo V9R 3Z2 - 250-753-8211; fax:  250-753-2430

Junior Learning Alternatives (formerly Five Acres) - Loction Central/South Nanaimo 897 Harbour View St., Nanaimo V9R 4V4 - 250-754-5341; fax:  250-741-1513

Ladysmith Secondary - Location: Ladysmith Box 190, 710 Sixth Ave., Ladysmith V9G 1A5 - 250-245-3043; fax:  250-245-4333

[email protected] 8-12 - Location: University District 355 Wakesiah Avenue (Rooms 254 and 256), Nanaimo V9R 3K5 - 250-740-2038; toll free 1-866-740-2037; fax:  250-740-2043

Nanaimo District Secondary - Location: University District 355 Wakesiah Ave., Nanaimo V9R 3K5, 250-740-2000; fax:  250-740-2020

Senior Learning Alternatives (formerly VAST Centre) - Locarion: Central/South Nanaimo 10 Strickland St., Nanaimo V9R 4R9 - 250-753-4012; fax:  250-753-4494

Wellington Secondary - Location: Departure Bay 3135 Mexicana Rd., Nanaimo V9T 2W8 - 250-758-9191; fax:  250-758-3352

Woodlands Secondary - Location: Central Nanaimo 1270 Strathmore St., Nanaimo V9S 2L9 - 250-753-2271; fax:  250-753-5429

Elementary Schools
Bayview Elementary - Location; Central/South Nanaimo 140 View Street, Nanaimo V9R 4N6 - 250-754-3231; fax:  250-754-2336

Brechin Elementary - Location: Central Nanaimo 510 Millstone Ave., Nanaimo V9S 5A9 - 250-754-7523;  fax: 250-754-8314

Chase River Elementary - Location: South Nanaimo 1503 Cranberry Ave., Nanaimo V9R 6R7 - 250-754-6983; fax:  250-754-3354

Cilaire Elementary - Location: Departure Bay 25 Cilaire Drive, Nanaimo V9S 3C9 - 250-758-7941; fax:  250-751-8840

Cinnabar Valley Elementary - Location: South Nanaimo 1800 Richardson Road, Nanaimo V9X 1C9 - 250-716-1030; fax:  250-716-0476

Coal Tyee Elementary - Location: Central Nanaimo 2280 Sun Valley Dr., Nanaimo V9T 6P1 - 250-729-0450; fax:  250-729-0460

Ecole Davis Road Elementary - Location: Ladysmith 444 Parkhill Terrace, Ladysmith V9G 1V6 - 250-245-7187; fax:  250-245-3658

Departure Bay Elementary - Location; Departure Bay 3004 Departure Bay Rd., Nanaimo V9T 1B4 - 250-758-6541; fax:  250-751-1617

Fairview Community - Location: Central Nanaimo/Old City 205 Howard Ave., Nanaimo V9R 3R3 - 250-753-3418; fax:  250-741-1250

Forest Park Elementary - Location: Central Nanaimo 2050 Latimer Rd., Nanaimo V9S 2W5 - 250-758-6892; fax:  250-758-2373

Frank J. Ney Elementary - Location: Hammond Bay 5301 Williamson Rd., Nanaimo V9V 1L1 - 250-729-8045; fax:  250-729-8058

Gabriola Elementary - Location: Gabriola Island Box 130, North Road, Gabriola Island V0R 1X0 - 250-247-9342; fax:  250-247-8639

Georgia Avenue Community - Location: South Nanaimo 625 Georgia Ave., Nanaimo V9R 3W3 - 250-753-1044; fax:  250-741-1324

Ecole Hammond Bay Elementary - Location: Hammond Bay 1025 Morningside Drive, Nanaimo V9T 1N5 - 250-758-5711; fax:  250-751-1873

Ladysmith Intermediate - Location: Ladysmith Box 849, 317 French St., Ladysmith V9G 1A6 - 250-245-3351;  fax:  250-245-3117

Ladysmith Primary - Location: Ladysmith Box 910, 510 Sixth Ave., Ladysmith V9G 1A6 - 250-245-3912; fax:  250-245-4863

[email protected] K-7 - Location: Departure Bay 3004 Departure Bay Road, Nanaimo V9T 1B4 - 250-751-2197; toll free 1-866-740-2037; fax: 250-758-3915

Binng McGirr Elementary - Location: North Nanaimo 6199 McGirr Road, Nanaimo V9V 1C7 - 250-758-8946; fax:  250-756-0541

Mountain View Elementary - Location: Central Nanaimo 2480 East Wellington Road, Nanaimo V9R 5K3 - 250-753-2831; fax:  250-741-8320

North Cedar Intermediate - Location: Cedar 2215 Gould Road, Nanaimo V9X 1J9 - 250-722-2722; fax:  250-722-2055

North Oyster Elementary - Location: Cedar 13470 Cedar Rd., Ladysmith V9G 1H6 - 250-245-3330; fax:  250-245-2386

Park Avenue Community - Location: South Nanaimo 395 Eighth St., Nanaimo V9R 1A9 - 250-754-5591; fax:  250-754-5818

Ecole Pauline Haarer Elementary School   - Location: Central/Old City 400 Campbell St., Nanaimo V9R 3G7 - 250-754-2722, fax:  250-741-0275

Pleasant Valley Elementary - Location: Pleasant Valley 6201 Dunbar Rd., Nanaimo V9T 2P2 - 250-390-4027; fax:  250-390-2107

Ecole Quarterway Elementary School - Location: Central Nanaimo 1632 Bowen Rd., Nanaimo V9S 1G6 - 250-754-6845; fax:  250-754-6871

Randerson Ridge Elementary - Location: North Nanaimo 6021 Nelson Road, Nanaimo V9T 5N7 - 250-758-5076; fax:  250-751-2261

Rock City Elementary - Location: Departure Bay 3741 Departure Bay Rd., Nanaimo V9T 1C5 - 250-758-2434; fax:  250-758-4831

Rutherford Elementary - Location: Hammond Bay 5840 Hammond Bay Rd., Nanaimo V9T 5M6 - 250-758-5331; fax:  250-751-0829

Seaview Elementary - Location: Lantzville 7000 Lantzville School Rd., Lantzville V0R 2H0 - 250-390-4022; fax:  250-390-1302

South Wellington Elementary - Location: South Nanaimo 1536 Morden Rd., Nanaimo V9X 1S2 - 250-754-2873; fax:  250-741-0346

Uplands Park Elementary - Location: Uplands 3821 Stronach Dr., Nanaimo V9T 3X4 - 250-758-3252; fax:  250-751-0635

Woodbank Primary - Location: Cedar 1984 Woobank Rd., Nanaimo V9X 1K6 - 250-722-3644; fax:   250-722-3665

C: 250.619.3218
P: 250.751.1223
F: 250.751.1300
TF: 877.856.0622
E: [email protected]

© 2010 Terra Maibach