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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City of Nanaimo


Coat of arms
Location of Nanaimo within the Nanaimo District on Vancouver Island
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional District Nanaimo
Incorporated 1874[1]
 - Mayor John Ruttan
 - Governing body Nanaimo City Council
 - MPs Jean Crowder
James Lunney
 - MLAs Leonard Krog
Ron Cantelon
Doug Routley
 - City 89.30 km2 (34.5 sq mi)
Elevation 20 m (66 ft)
Population (2006)
 - City 78,692 (ranked 62nd)
 Density 881.2/km2 (2,282.3/sq mi)
 Metro 92,361 (ranked 38th)
 - Metro Density 72.2/km2 (187/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC−8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)
Postal code span V9R to V9V
Area code(s) +1-250
Website City of Nanaimo
Flag of Canada.svg

Nanaimo (pronounced /nəˈnaɪmoʊ/) (Canada 2006 Census population 78,692) is the second largest city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It has been dubbed the "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World" and "Harbour City". Nanaimo is also sometimes referred to as the "Hub City" because of its central location on Vancouver Island and due to the layout of the downtown streets which form a "hub" pattern. It is also fondly known as the "Hub, Tub, and Pub City" because of its association with the bathtub racing and the numerous "watering holes" in Old Nanaimo. It is the seat of the Regional District of Nanaimo.



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 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.[2].

Location and geography

Aerial photo of Nanaimo and surrounding area

Located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is about 110 km northwest of Victoria, and 55 km west of Vancouver, separated by the Strait of Georgia, but directly linked to Vancouver via BC Ferries. By virtue of its proximity to Vancouver, Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations both on the island — Tofino, Comox Valley, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park — and off its coast — Newcastle Island, Protection Island, Gabriola Island, Valdes Island, and many other of the Gulf Islands. Nanaimo has often been referred to as 'A mall in search of a city' due to the malls that stretch from the south to the north.[citation needed]


Climate data for Nanaimo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.6
Average high °C (°F) 6.2
Average low °C (°F) -0.8
Record low °C (°F) -17.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 169.5
Source: Environment Canada[3] 2009-07-10


Nanaimo is served by three airports: Nanaimo Airport with services to Vancouver, Nanaimo Harbour Water Airport with services to Vancouver harbour, and Nanaimo/Long Lake Water Airport. Nanaimo also has three BC Ferry terminals located at Departure Bay, Duke Point, and downtown. The downtown terminal services Gabriola Island while Departure Bay and Duke Point service Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen respectively. There is also regular passenger train service south to Victoria and north to Courtenay along the E and N Railway.

Highways 1, 19 and 19A traverse the city. Bus service in the city is provided by Nanaimo Regional Transit.


Nanaimo had a population of 78,692 people in 2006, which was an increase of 7.8% from the 2001 census count. The median household income in 2005 for Nanaimo was $45,937, which is below the British Columbia provincial average of $52,709.[4]


Nanaimo Waterfront

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.

Media outlets

Nanaimo Harbour

Nanaimo is served by three newspapers - the Canwest-owned Nanaimo Daily News with about 10,500 copies six days a week and the Harbour City Star with nearly 40,000 copies twice a week, as well as the Black Press-owned Nanaimo News Bulletin (35,000 copies three times a week). Nanaimo also hosts a bureau for CIVI-TV (A Victoria, cable channel 12) and a satellite office for CHEK-TV (Independent, cable channel 6).

Nanaimo is also served by the Jim Pattison Group's CHWF-FM and CKWV-FM, as well as CHLY-FM, an independent community campus radio station. CBC Radio One is heard over CBU from Vancouver, but with no local content for Nanaimo itself.


In the Canadian House of Commons, Nanaimo is represented by the ridings of Nanaimo—Cowichan (Jean Crowder, New Democratic Party) and Nanaimo—Alberni (James Lunney, Conservative). In the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Nanaimo is represented by the ridings of Nanaimo (Leonard Krog, British Columbia New Democratic Party) and Nanaimo-Parksville (Ron Cantelon, British Columbia Liberal Party). The mayor of Nanaimo is currently John Ruttan, who was preceded by Gary Korpan. The most colourful and famous mayor Nanaimo ever had was Frank J. Ney, who instigated Nanaimo's well-known bathtub races, which he regularly attended dressed as a pirate. There is a statue to commemorate Ney - dressed in his pirate costume - and the bathtub races at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon, which is on the Nanaimo waterfront; Ney was also an MLA for the Social Credit party while he was also mayor. An elementary school has been named in his honour.

Open Government

The city's planning department has, over the past five years, steadily produced enough municipal data to warrant a Time magazine article on open-government, and been dubbed 'the capital of Google Earth'.[5] Working directly with Google, the city fed it a wealth of information about its buildings, property lines, utilities and streets. The result is, a wealth of city data viewed through the Google Earth 3D mapping program.


Nanaimo has over 30 elementary and secondary schools, most of which are public and are operated by School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

The main campus of Vancouver Island University is located in Nanaimo, which brings many international students to the city. The school is also renowned for its music programs, such as its jazz program. Its MBA Program also attracts many international students from all over the world.


Notable residents


External links

Coordinates: 49°09′53″N 123°56′18″W / 49.1647°N 123.9384°W / 49.1647; -123.9384

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Nanaimo as seen from nearby Newcastle Island
Nanaimo as seen from nearby Newcastle Island

Nanaimo [1] 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.

Get in

Most travellers to Nanaimo will arrive from Vancouver. BC Ferries [2] operates car ferries to Nanaimo from Tsawwassen (South of Vancouver) to Duke Point in Nanaimo, and from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. These ferries run about every 2 hours. The ferry ride is approximately 1 hour 35 minutes long. It costs about $35 for a car and $10 per person (more in peak season, less in low season) each way for the ferry. Reservations are never required, but recommended for vehicles during peak travel times. There is a $17 charge for reservations.

The Departure Bay ferry terminal is served by Nanaimo Regional Transit [3] to Nanaimo. Greyhound [4] (Phone: 1-800-661-8747) operates a coach service from Vancouver that goes on the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay Ferry. The cost is $22 plus ferry fare and is timed to meet every ferry departure.

Baxter Aviation [5] and Harbour Air [6] operate float plane service from downtown Vancouver into Downtown Nanaimo. Baxter Aviation flys the De Havilland Beaver while Harbour Air operates the De Havilland Otter. Both of these service operate about hourly from about 7:00AM to 6:00PM. The cost is about $55. Baxter Air is currently being bought and ownership is possibly making changes. These are small planes heavily used by business travellers so reservations are recommended. From May through September, Kenmore Air [7] also offers daily scheduled seaplane service to Nanaimo.

Air Canada Jazz operates air service from the Vancouver airport to the Nanaimo airport. The cost to add this onto a Air Canada flight into Vancouver is often minimal. The Nanaimo airport is about 20km from downtown Nanaimo.

Travellers may also come to Nanaimo from Victoria. It is about a 90 minute drive from Victoria. Vancouver Island Coach Lines [8] operates a coach service from Downtown Victoria to Downtown Nanaimo.

VIA [9] operates a daily passenger service from Victoria to Courtenay with a stop in Nanaimo the cost for Victoria to Nanaimo is $23.

Get around

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 at the downtown harbour, Departure Bay ferry terminal or the Nanaimo airport.

The Bastion
The Bastion
  • Bathtub Racing - An annual race of bathtubs that have been converted into boats and race through the harbour 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 foot bridge 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, [10]. The oldest free-standing Hudson's Bay Company fort in North America. The Bastion is operated by the Nanaimo Museum. By donation ($2 recommended).
  • Pioneer Plaza -- at the foot of Bastion Street, you'll find markers for a self-guided walking tour of the downtown core.
  • Nanaimo Museum, [11]. Nanaimo District Museum, situated on the waterfront in the heart of downtown, brings history to life with its fascinating depictions of early coastal living on Vancouver Island, from European, Chinese and First Nations' perspectives. Visitors can explore the coal mining exhibit, learn about native life through personal reflections, hands-on exhibits and audio-visual presentations. Discover what's made Nanaimo tick in the post-coal mining era. The newly renovated upper gallery will have exhibits about the harbor, community life, making a living and the city's Chinese community. The Museum is in Piper's Park, which is also home to a miner's cottage, a restored 1890s locomotive, reproductions of native carvings in stone and more. 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,[12]. - An annual 3 day event held in Maffeo Sutton Park. Over 70 teams and 1,400 participants take part in this annual event.
Newcastle Island
Newcastle Island
  • Bungy Jumping, TreeGo and Ziplines at WildPlay Element Park [13] (Formerly known as the Bungy Zone). (About 10km south of town)Summer Hours: Open 7 days a week 10:00AM-6:00PM. Check website or call for off-season hours. North America's first and many say best permanent legal bungy jumping site. TreeGo Aerial Tree Course $20-$40 Bungy Jumping $100.
  • Camping/Hiking on Newcastle Island [14] Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park offers spectacular trails through beautiful forests and along its wild coastline. Only a 10 minute ferry ride from downtown.
  • Scuba Diving: Nanaimo has world famous cold water scuba diving. [15]


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 the 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. Here you will find...

  • The Green Olive, 150 Skinner Street, +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, with entree's averaging $22. Share some laughs, some wine, and most importantly a gourmet meal. Located in the heart of downtown Nanaimo.  edit
  • Phoenicia Mediterranean Cuisine, 347 Wesley Street, +1 250 755-9150. A Mediterranean restaurant located in a modern, pastel coloured house in the Old Quarter district, about 4 blocks from the harbour. Great atmosphere, personable staff, and excellent food $12-15 for an entree.  edit
  • Gina's Restaurant, 47 Skinner Street, +1 250 753-5411. A Mexican restaurant in a bright pink building on the hill in downtown Nanaimo. Excellent food $10-15 for an entree.  edit
  • 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)
  • The Old City Station, 150 Skinner St, [16]. 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, boasts 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.  edit
Painted Turtle Guesthouse
Painted Turtle Guesthouse
  • Painted Turtle Guesthouse, 121 Bastion Street (corner of Commercial and Bastion Streets downtown), +1 250 753-4432 (toll free: +1 866 309-4432, ), [17]. A simple but friendly hostel aimed square at the backpacker set, in the heart of downtown Nanaimo, around the corner from The Old City Station Pub, and The Green Olive: Nanaimo's Premier Shared Dining Experience. Rooms are free of phones or televisions, but free wireless internet covers the hostel. Double room $75/night for two people, Dorm bed $25.25/night; less in off season.  edit
  • Bev and Sandy's Place, 2734 Camcrest Drive, +1 250 758-4983, cell +1 250 616-2636 (), [18]. checkin: 4PM or by arrangement; checkout: 10AM. A two-room B&B offering personal service. On the northwest side of town. Accept cash or cheqe but not credit cards. Most pets welcome. $45/night one person, $55/night two people; discounts for weeklong stays.  edit
  • Coast Bastion Inn, 11 Bastion Street, +1 250 753-6601 (toll free: +1 800 716-6199, fax: +1 250 753-4155), [19]. An upscale hotel in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. $145-$275/night.  edit
  • Graycliff Cottage Bed and Breakfast, 7550 Lantzville Road, Lantzville (Just follow the Department of Highways' B&B signs), +1 250 390-3203 (toll free: +1 888 801-1822, ), [20]. checkin: Between 3:30PM-6PM or by arrangement; checkout: 11AM. From your bedroom window, your deck, or the hot tub, watch eagles, seals, sea lions, cruise ships, or beautiful sunsets. Or take a quiet walk along the secluded beach. All suites self contained and include: Private exterior keyed entrance; Queen size bed with down duvet; Ensuite bath; Cable TV & VCR; Small refrigerator & coffee bar with complimentary coffee, teas & hot chocolate. Fresh full breakfast served every morning in the dining room overlooking Georgia Strait. Wireless high-speed internet available. From $103 Double occupancy. $20 extra per person.  edit
  • Buccaneer Inn (Buccaneer), 1577 Stewart Avenue (3 blocks south of Departure Bay Ferry Terminal), +1 877 282-6337, [21]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. The Buccaneer Inn features comfortable, plush beds with down duvets in a separate bedroom, full kitchen facilities, ensuite bathrooms, full coffee and tea making facilities, games and books basket and local art all in a spotlessly clean room. Free wireless internet and free use of the front desk laptop, secure gear storage for scuba diving gear, dive gear rinse station, storage facilities for bikes and kayaks, BBQ deck. Ranked #1 on since 2004! AAA 2 Diamond and Canada Select 3.5 Star accommodation. Across from 5 restaurants and pubs including waterfront dining. Beautiful walk along Harbourside Walkway to downtown. Central Nanaimo location; great for seeing all of southern and central Vancouver Island including Victoria, Tofino, Oceanside, Chemainus and Comox Valley. $60-199.  edit

Get out

Nanaimo is a hub city for the island, as such it provides good access to a number of locations on the island.

Ladysmith, along the Trans-Canada Highway to the southeast, is a picturesque tourist town.

It is about a 3 hour drive to Tofino and Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park.

North of Nanaimo is Campbell River, Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy.

The beaches of the Parksville and Qualicum Beach region are a short 20-minute drive from Nanaimo. This region also includes Coombs, offering some wonderful rustic and exotic shopping and this is where you find the goats on the roof. It's a favorite spot for locals and an excellent stop for tourists. It's about a 30 minute drive from Nanaimo.

Routes through Nanaimo
VictoriaLadysmith  S noframe E  → ferry - North ShoreVancouver
Port Hardy / Tofino (via )Parksville  N noframe S  END
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NANAIMO, a city of British Columbia, on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Pop. (1906) about 650o. It is connected with Victoria by the Esquimalt and Nanaimo railway, and has a daily steamer service to Vancouver, as well as to Comox, Sydney and other points on the coast. It is favourably situated for growing fruit, and mixed farming is carried on to a considerable extent. There is a large export trade in coal from the neighbouring mines, which is sent chiefly to San Francisco.

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Simple English

File:Nanaimo Skyline
Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo is a city in British Columbia with a population of 78,692.

The mayor of Nanaimo is John Ruttan.[1]

Nanaimo is located on Vancouver Island and is the second largest city on Vancouver Island.[2]

Nanaimo is ranked 62nd overall in the 100 largest municipalities in Canada and is nicknamed "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World" and "Harbour City".



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