In 1862 the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company bought out the HBC mines and expanded operations. Completion of the Esquimalt to Nanaimo Railway (1886) spurred development. The city grew with its increasing coal output. Production from the 3 main seams in the area reached its peak in 1923 when more than 1 million t were mined. Once the easily accessible coal was mined, however, it became increasingly dangerous and expensive to extract the fuel and by the early 1950s the city turned to forest products. A pulp and paper mill was built in 1950 at Harmac outside the municipal limits.
Central Nanaimo's street pattern is based on a century-old radial pattern of streets converging on the waterfront and central business district. Until the 1950s Nanaimo was a city of contrasts - coal mine officials and entrepreneurs built large homes in certain areas while the miners lived in "stark frame company houses" on the waterfront or on company lands outside the city. The city's waterfront and central core have been extensively rebuilt and have emerged as a lively tourist area.
Nanaimo has used its excellent harbour for trading, servicing and distribution industries. Fishing and lumbering have also grown since the 1950s. The port of Nanaimo has 4 deep-sea berths, and the provincial ferries have docks at Nanaimo Harbour, Departure Bay and Duke Point. Duke Point Industrial Park focuses on forest products and related industries. Nanaimo's economy has moved from a base largely dependent on the forestry sector to a diversified base including retail and wholesale trade, construction, manufacturing, knowledge-based and technology companies and government services. Malaspina University-College has its main campus in Nanaimo. With its beautiful natural setting, mild climate and beaches, parks and nearby camping sites, the city is also an important tourist centre.
Nanaimo's most noted annual event is the "bathtub weekend" (during its Marine Festival), when "tubbers" from around the world race in motor-powered bathtubs from Nanaimo Harbour to Departure Bay. The Bastion, a HBC fort built in 1853, is the oldest preserved HBC fort in Canada. The Nanaimo District Museum displays the culture and history of the area. Parks in or around the area include Petroglyph Provincial Park, so named because of the 1000- to 2000-year-old carvings in sandstone; and Newcastle Island Provincial Park, which can only be reached by ferry.
Author ALAN F.J. ARTIBISE Revised: KEN FAVRHOLDT
E.B. Norcross, ed, Nanaimo Retrospective: The First Century (1979); Jan Peterson, Black Diamond City: Nanaimo, the Victorian Era (2002), Hub City: Nanaimo, 1886-1920 (2003) and Harbour City: Nanaimo in Transition, 1920-1967 (2006).
Links to Other Sites
BC Cities and Towns
Find the website for a specific city or town in British Columbia. Also features documents and reports about municipal government operatons in B.C. From civicinfo.bc.ca.
The Colonial Despatches
View digitized copies of correspondence (dated 1846 - 1859) between the British Colonial Office and the "colonies" of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Search or browse this site for references to specific individuals, communities, companies, or industries in the province. Also includes digitized images of maps of various locations. From the website for the University of Victoria.
Diana Krall Official Website
The official Diana Krall website features a bio, discography, video segments, and audio clips of her music.
See maps and statistical data for regions and communities throughout British Columbia. A Government of British Columbia website.
BC Geographical Names
Search the BC Geographical Names Information System for historical and geographical data about specific locations in British Columbia.
An extensive information source about the geological history, human settlement patterns, earth and water resources, and natural hazards found in locations across the country. Click on the red symbols on the interactive map of Canada to explore aerial landscapes, maps, photos, colourful online posters, and more. A Geoscape Canada website from Natural Resources Canada.
British Columbia Archives
Explore the fascinating history of BC through online digitized copies of selected government documents, manuscripts, maps, architectural plans, photographs, illustrations, audio and video files, newspapers and much more.
Heritage BC Stops
Click on the tabs at the top of the page to access interactive maps and virtual tours of unique heritage sites located throughout British Columbia. Features points of interest, archival illustrations and photographs, personal anecdotes, and much more. From Heritage BC. Note: try various web browsers for the best display of website pages.
Mining Operations for Gold, Coal, etc. in the Province of British Columbia
This 1886 report offers summaries of prospecting activity, the locations of new claims, transportation issues, and production levels at various mining sites in British Columbia. A Government of British Columbia website.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...