As the province’s third-oldest city, we’ve been an active part in the development of British Columbia and Vancouver Island since we were incorporated in 1874. While coal was a huge component of our initial economy, we’ve become a diverse community offering goods and services enjoyed around the world every day.
Explore the streets and neighbourhoods of Nanaimo to see many of the buildings and parks that were erected in the early days of our development. Check out the On This Spot app (available for Android and iPhone) to compare pictures of yesteryear with what we’ve grown to today – it’s an interesting way to see how much we’ve developed over the years.
Visit Newcastle Island, Saysutshun, the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and experience the culture of the Coast Salish people. Sample traditional foods at the Saysutshun Bistro, and catch a cultural tour or presentation.
Downtown Nanaimo has amazing historical sites to discover like the Hudson’s Bay Company Bastion, the Great National Land Building, and dozens of old storefronts and bars along Victoria Crescent and Commercial Street. Take a walk past the old Palace Hotel on Skinner Street and you’ll feel as though the clock has turned back to the early 1900s.
For insight into Nanaimo’s coal mining days, visit the impressive Morden Mine Historical Site at the south end of town. Or, head over to Newcastle Island, where pieces of coal can be found near the beach at the island’s southwest corner. Downtown at Pioneer Plaza the last piece of coal taken from White Rapids Mine in 1949 is on display.
Daily Cannon Firings. Every day at noon from mid May through Labour Day you’ll hear the sound of bagpipes and the blast of the cannon at the Bastion.
Nanaimo Heritage Walking Tour brochures are available at the Tourism Nanaimo Visitor Centre and the Nanaimo Museum, or take one with one of our trusted guides. Also, check out the schedule of events at the Nanaimo Museum, you will find Cemetery Tours and Old City Walking Tours as well as everyday at Noon (May 18-Sept 2) catch the cannon firing re-enactment ceremony at the Bastion. You can tour all three floors of one of the last remaining Hudson’s Bay Company Bastion’s left in North America (summer hours only).
The Vancouver Island Military Museum offers more than 25 exhibits and displays showcasing Canada’s proud Military History and Traditions.
Pick up a copy of ‘A Walk Through Time’ Heritage Walking Tour brochure at our Visitor Centre.