Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada

Discover Nanaimo, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Nanaimo, British Columbia, is a vibrant city of approximately 100,000 residents, nestled on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Known as "The Harbour City," Nanaimo's unique layout, with streets radiating from the shoreline like the spokes of a wagon wheel, earned it the nickname "Hub City." Today, Nanaimo serves as the headquarters of the Regional District of Nanaimo and is a key transportation hub, served by the Island Highway, the BC Ferries system, and its regional airport.

The Rich History of Nanaimo, British Columbia

The Indigenous peoples of the Snuneymuxw First Nation were the original inhabitants of the area now known as Nanaimo. The city's name is an anglicised spelling and pronunciation of their name. The first Europeans to reach Nanaimo Harbour were members of the 1791 Spanish voyage of Juan Carrasco, who named it Bocas de Winthuysen.

In 1852, the British Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) established a settlement here, initially named Colvile Town. The city was renamed Nanaimo in 1858, and it has been known as "The Harbour City" since the lead-up to Expo 86.

Nanaimo's history is deeply intertwined with coal mining. The HBC attempted to start a coal mine at Port Rupert, but the project was unsuccessful. However, in 1850, Snuneymuxw Chief Che-wich-i-kan, also known as "Coal Tyee," brought samples of coal to Victoria, sparking interest in the area's resources. By 1852, the first shipment of Nanaimo coal was loaded on the Cadboro.

The city's history also includes a period of internment during World War I, when the provincial government established a camp for Ukrainian detainees at a Provincial jail in Nanaimo. It operated from September 1914 to September 1915.

Exploring the Geography and Climate of Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo is located about 111 kilometres north-west of Victoria, and 55 kilometres west of Vancouver, separated by the Strait of Georgia. As the site of the main ferry terminal, Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations on the northern part of the island and off its coast.

Like much of coastal British Columbia, Nanaimo experiences a temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. The city is usually shielded from the Aleutian Low's influence by the mountains of central Vancouver Island, resulting in unusually dry summers for its latitude and location.

Transportation in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo is served by two airports: Nanaimo Airport and Nanaimo Harbour Water Aerodrome. The city also has three BC Ferry terminals located at Departure Bay, Duke Point, and downtown. A private passenger ferry operates between Nanaimo Harbour and Protection Island, and a seasonal passenger ferry operates between Swy-a-Lana Lagoon and Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park.

Highways 1, 19, and 19A traverse the city, and bus service is provided by Nanaimo Regional Transit. The Island Rail Corridor passes through Nanaimo, with a base of operations and yard in the downtown waterfront area.

The People of Nanaimo, British Columbia

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Nanaimo had a population of 99,863 living in 43,164 of its 45,138 total private dwellings. The average age of a Nanaimoite is 45.5 years old, higher than the national median at 41.2.

Language and Ethnicity in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo's population is predominantly Anglophone, with 86.7% of residents claiming English as their mother tongue. Other common first languages include Chinese Languages, French, German, and Punjabi.

Media Outlets in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo is served by one newspaper, the Nanaimo News Bulletin, and hosts a bureau for CIVI-DT (CTV 2 Victoria) and a satellite office for CHEK-DT. The city is also served by several radio stations, including CHWF-FM (The Wolf), CKWV-FM (The Wave), CHLY-FM, and CKAY-FM (Coast FM).

The Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, British Columbia

The Pacific Biological Station, located on the north shore of Departure Bay, was established in 1908. It is the oldest fisheries research centre on the Pacific coast and is operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Museums, Arts, and Culture in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo is home to several museums, including the Nanaimo Art Gallery, the Nanaimo Museum, and the Vancouver Island Military Museum. The city also hosts the annual Nanaimo Marine Festival and is known for the Nanaimo bar, a no-bake cookie bar with custard filling.

Sports and Recreation in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo is home to numerous sports clubs and facilities, including the Nanaimo United Football Club, the Vancouver Island Raiders, the Nanaimo Clippers, and the Nanaimo Timbermen. The city also hosts North America's first legal, purpose-made bungee jumping bridge, operated by WildPlay Element Parks.

Sister City of Nanaimo, British Columbia

Nanaimo has one sister city: Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, established in 1996.