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Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Nanaimo is the central hub city of Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. It is the second largest city on the island and has the second biggest harbor. In many ways, it is the smaller cousin of Victoria. Like much of Vancouver Island it has moved from being primarily an industrial town to a tourist city that attracts a large number of retirees from the rest of Canada.

History

The Indigenous people of the area that is now known as Nanaimo are the Snuneymuxw. An anglicised spelling and pronunciation of that word gave the city its current name.

The 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 19th century. In 1849, the Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun ("Coal Tyee") informed the Hudson's... Read more

Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Destination:

Nanaimo is the central hub city of Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. It is the second largest city on the island and has the second biggest harbor. In many ways, it is the smaller cousin of Victoria. Like much of Vancouver Island it has moved from being primarily an industrial town to a tourist city that attracts a large number of retirees from the rest of Canada.

History

The Indigenous people of the area that is now known as Nanaimo are the Snuneymuxw. An anglicised spelling and pronunciation of that word gave the city its current name.

The 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 19th century. In 1849, the Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun ("Coal Tyee") informed the Hudson's Bay Company of coal in the area. Exploration proved there was plenty of it in the area and Nanaimo became chiefly known for the export of coal. In 1853 the company built the Nanaimo Bastion, which has been preserved and is a popular tourist destination in the downtown area.

Hudson's Bay Company employee Robert Dunsmuir helped establish coal mines in the Nanaimo harbour area and later mined in Nanaimo as one of the first independent miners. In 1869 Dunsmuir 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 London-based Vancouver Coal Company through the Nanaimo docks.

The gassy qualities of the coal which made it valuable also made it dangerous. The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion killed 150 miners and was described as the largest man-made explosion until the Halifax Explosion. Another 100 men died in another explosion the next year.

An Internment camp for Ukrainian detainees, many of them local, was set up at a Provincial jail in Nanaimo from September 1914 to September 1915.

In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighboring community of Lantzville.

Chinatowns

Nanaimo has had a succession of four distinct Chinatowns. The first, founded during the gold rush years of the 1860s, was the third largest in British Columbia. In 1884, because of mounting racial tensions related to the Dunsmuir coal company's hiring of Chinese strikebreakers, the company helped move Chinatown to a location outside city limits.[8] In 1908, when two Chinese entrepreneurs bought the site and tried to raise rents, in response, and with the help of 4,000 shareholders from across Canada, the community combined forces and bought the site for the third Chinatown at a new location, focused on Pine Street. That third Chinatown, by then mostly derelict, burned down on 30 September 1960. A fourth Chinatown, also called Lower Chinatown or "new town", boomed for a while in the 1920s on Machleary Street.

Climate

Like much of coastal British Columbia, Nanaimo experiences a temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and cool, dry summers. Nanaimo is usually shielded by the mountains of central Vancouver Island, so that summers are unusually dry for its latitude and location—though summer drying as a trend is found in the immediate lee of the coastal ranges as far north as Skagway, Alaska.

Heavy snowfall does occasionally occur during winter, but the mean maximum cover is only 0.2 meters (7.9 in).

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Nanaimo, BC, Canada: Port Information


Cruise ships dock at Nanaimo Cruise Port. This modern port has all the facilities you need.
Free buses available to and from the city center. 

Get around Nanaimo, BC, Canada


There is a transit system in Nanaimo, but it is not particularly convenient for getting around much of the city. If you plan on using it, make sure you know the schedule. Otherwise, you can spend a long time waiting at a bus stop.

If arranged ahead of time, cars can be rented at the downtown harbor, Departure Bay ferry terminal or the Nanaimo airport.

What to see in Nanaimo, BC, Canada


  • Bathtub Racing - An annual race of bathtubs that have been converted into boats and race through the harbor of Nanaimo.
  • Swy-a-lana Lagoon Park Swy-a-lana is a saltwater lagoon that makes use of the tide's natural ebb and flow, creating a home for marine life. An arched footbridge crosses the lagoon, leading to Maffeo Sutton Park, where you'll find a sandlot playground, a fishing pier, picnic tables, benches and grass fields. Both Swy-a-lana and Maffeo Sutton Parks offer commanding views of the waterfront, Gulf Islands, and coastal mountains.
  • Nanaimo seawall - a pedestrian walkway that winds along the waterfront from Cameron Island to the Nanaimo Yacht Club. Visitors especially enjoy the section of the seawall near the

    Bastion

    , where craft shops and restaurants dot the path.
  • The Bastion. The Bastion, built in 1853 as an original Hudson’s Bay Company outpost is now a museum that gives great insight into the way of life a century ago. Historic cannons are fired daily at noon throughout the summer. Admission is by donation.
  • Pioneer Plaza - at the foot of Bastion Street, you'll find markers for a self-guided walking tour of the downtown core.
  • Nanaimo Museum. Nanaimo Museum is located at 100 Museum Way in the heart of downtown. Discover Nanaimo's fascinating history & modern-day contributions to Canada's West Coast in the 1,486 sq m (16,000 sq ft) museum located in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Stroll through time in the main gallery to get a sense of what life was like for Nanaimo's earliest settlers & hear stories of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Feel what it was like below the surface in the replica Coal Mine exhibit. The Museum’s feature exhibits change three times a year and exhibit everything from vintage undergarments to shellfish to the history of radio in Canada.
  • Nanaimo Dragonboat Festival. An annual 3-day event held in Maffeo Sutton Park. Over 70 teams and 1,400 participants take part in this annual event.
  • Departure Bay Beach. There is a small park for the kids just south of the main beach. Dedicated swimming area during summer months.

What to do in Nanaimo, BC, Canada


  • Bungy Jumping, TreeGo and Ziplines. At WildPlay Element Park (Formerly known as the Bungy Zone). (About 10km south of town) Summer Hours: Open 7 days a week 10 AM-6 PM. Check website or call for off-season hours. North America's first and many say best permanent legal bungy jumping site. 
  • Camping/Hiking on Newcastle Island.

    Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park

    offers spectacular trails through beautiful forests and along its wild coastline. The island used to dig coles in the back days, and many historical places are left to see as well. Only a 10-minute ferry ride from downtown.
  • Scuba Diving: Nanaimo has world famous cold water scuba diving.
  • Nanaimo River

    . In the summertime, this is the most beautiful thing you could ever imagine.

What to eat and drink in Nanaimo, BC, Canada


Eat

  • The Green Olive, 150 Skinner St (downtown Nanaimo), ☎ +1 250 716-0030. All dishes are made to serve 4-6 people, and as a result, makes this place the most affordable gourmet restaurant for groups.
  • Thirsty Camel Café, 14 Victoria Crescent, ☎ +1 250 753-9313. closed Sundays and holidays. A self-service Mediterranean restaurant in the downtown area, 2 blocks from the harbor. Posters at the entrance tell you what is happening around town.
  • Gina's Restaurant, 47 Skinner St, ☎ +1 250 753-5411. A Mexican restaurant in a bright pink building on the hill in downtown Nanaimo. 
  • A number of good inexpensive Vietnamese restaurants are in Nanaimo. And a fine Vietnamese sandwich shop is a block away from Malaspina College.
  • Acme is a more modern restaurant lots of fun and awesome food!
  • Discovery Room is a secret fine dining restaurant hold inside of Vancouver Island University (Known as Malaspina University-College)
  • La Famiglia Ristorante Italiano, #1-321 Wesley St, ☎ +1 250 591-1321. 11 AM-10 PM. Open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. They provide a casual lunch, offering panini, soup, salads, and pastas. Dinners are served in a candlelit setting, with traditional Italian favorites such as veal parmigiana and chicken cacciatore. 

Drink

  • The Old City Station, 150 Skinner St. Has excellent drink specials every day, 20 beers on tap (they serve a FULL pint of beer, as opposed to other bars in the area...), as well as live music on weekends. It's huge, has a dozen flat panel TV's, aesthetically pleasing, and the menu is to die for because they share a kitchen with a gourmet shared dining restaurant, The Green Olive. It's easy to walk to (just up the art gallery alley off Commercial Street), and super affordable.
  • Power House Living Foods (Power House Living Foods), 200 Commercial St (Downtown Nanaimo). 10-6. Organic Raw Vegan Foods in downtown Nanaimo. In a city with very limited selection and high food prices, this might be an option you want to explore. 

Shopping in Nanaimo, BC, Canada


Nanaimo is the largest city that can be easily accessed by most of Vancouver Island. As leaving the Island to do shopping is expensive and time-consuming, Nanaimo has become the shopping center for Vancouver Island. According to a 1990 Time Magazine article, it has more square meters of retail space per capita than any other city in North America. Much of this shopping is in a large number of malls and big-box retailers on the outskirts of the City. However, most of the interesting shops are in the downtown core.

Safety in Nanaimo, BC, Canada


Outside the winter months always inform yourself about local concerns with carnivorous wildlife, i.e. bears and cougars. If you're in the BC woods, you can assume that there are likely bears and other wildlife in the area. You're in their territory and it's good practice to make noise and keep your eyes (and ears) open. Knowing how to avoid wildlife encounters is a good idea.

Language spoken in Nanaimo, BC, Canada


Although Canada is officially a bilingual French/English country, you would be hard pressed to find many French-speaking people in BC. Services from the federal government are officially available in both English and French. Provincial and municipal governments operate in English only. So some people speak French and a lot of people speak English in British Columbia. Some businesses, especially in Vancouver and Victoria offer services in a number of languages (primarily Asian ones). Banks sometimes indicate by a sign in the window which languages are offered.

At one time Chinook Jargon, a bridge language for trading between English, French and First Nations peoples in the late 1800's and early 1900's, was common and almost became the official language of BC. Now there are very few speakers of the language, but many terms from the language are common slang terms in parts of BC.
  • Cheechaku - Newcomer
  • Saltchuck - The ocean
  • High Muckamuck - The chief, or boss
  • Kultus - Bad or worthless
  • Skookum - Strong, powerful, or impressive

LOCAL TIME

7:16 pm
October 15, 2019
America/Vancouver

CURRENT WEATHER

7.21 °C / 44.978 °F
heavy intensity rain
Thu

7.39 °C/45 °F
heavy intensity rain
Fri

4.87 °C/41 °F
light rain
Sat

5.03 °C/41 °F
moderate rain
Sun

3.81 °C/39 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

CAD

1 USD = 0 CAD
1 EUR = 0 CAD
1 GBP = 0 CAD
1 AUD = 0 CAD

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