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City of Nanaimo
Nanaimo Skyline 2005.JPG
Flag of City of Nanaimo
Coat of arms of City of Nanaimo
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The Hub, The Harbour City

Canada British Columbia location map 2
Red pog.svg
City of Nanaimo
Location of Nanaimo in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°09′51″N 123°56′11″W / 49.16417, -123.93639
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 91.30 km2 (35.25 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,280.84 km2 (494.54 sq mi)
Elevation 28 m (92 ft)
Population (2011)
 • City 83,810 (ranked 63rd)
 • Density 918.0/km2 (2,378/sq mi)
 • Metro 98,021 (ranked 38th)
 • Metro density 76.5/km2 (198/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

Nanaimo (play /nəˈnm/) (Canada 2011 Census population 83,810) is a 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 location of the headquarters 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 19th century; 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.

Nanaimo Indians, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. (On smaller backing than other photos.) - NARA - 297757

Indigenous Nanaimo people

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 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. In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.[2]


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 inter-racial tensions related to the Dunsmuir coal company's hiring of Chinese strikebreakers, the company helped move Chinatown to a location outside city limits. In 1908, when two Chinese entrpreneurs bought the site and tried to raise rents, in response, and with the help of 4000 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 September 30, 1960.[3] A fourth Chinatown, also called Lower Chinatown or "new town", boomed for a while in the 1920s on Machleary Street.[4][5]

Location and geographyEdit

Namaimo aerial 4

Aerial photo of downtown and central Nanaimo and adjacent islands.

Located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is about 110 km northwest of Victoria, and 55 km west of Vancouver, separated by the Strait of Georgia, and linked to Vancouver via the Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries terminal in West Vancouver. As the site of the main ferry terminal, Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations both on the island — Tofino, Comox Valley, Parksville, 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.


Like much of the coastal Pacific Northwest, Nanaimo experiences a temperate climate with mild, rainy winters and cool, dry summers. Due to its relatively dry summers, the Köppen climate classification places it at the northernmost limits of the Csb or cool-summer Mediterranean zone.[6] Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha, place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).[7]

Nanaimo is usually shielded from the Aleutian Low’s influence 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, with a record daily total of 0.74 metres (29.13 in) on February 12, 1975, but the mean maximum cover is only 0.2 metres (7.9 in).

Climate data for Nanaimo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Humidex 16.0 17.8 21.3 26.2 37.0 36.4 40.5 42.9 35.7 29.5 20.2 20.1 42.9
Record high °C (°F) 15.6
Average high °C (°F) 6.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.7
Average low °C (°F) −0.8
Record low °C (°F) −17.8
Wind chill −22.4 −18.4 −14.1 −6.7 −6.7 −0.7 2.5 2.7 −2.7 −6.7 −22 −21.2 −22.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 169.5
Rainfall mm (inches) 141.7
Snowfall cm (inches) 27.2
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 19.0 16.7 17.5 14.2 14.1 12.1 7.9 7.5 9.1 14.6 20.5 20.6 173.8
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 16.8 15.3 17.2 14.2 14.1 12.1 7.9 7.5 9.1 14.5 20.0 18.5 167.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 4.1 2.7 1.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.1 3.8 12.9
humidity 93.0 91.7 90.9 88.6 83.0 80.9 81.1 84.8 89.0 91.3 92.6 92.5 88.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 68.5 79.5 131.8 189.1 226.2 222.6 291.0 269.3 203.1 131.6 65.7 60.7 1,939.1
Source: Environment Canada[8]


Nanaimo is served by three airports: Nanaimo Airport (YCD) with services to Vancouver (YVR), Nanaimo Harbour Water Airport with services to Vancouver harbour and Vancouver Airport (YVR South Terminal), 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.

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


Nanaimo had a population of 83,810 people in 2011, which was an increase of 6.9% from the 2006 census count. The median household income in 2005 for Nanaimo was $45,937, below the British Columbia provincial average of $52,709.[9]


Nanaimo Waterfront2

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 at Harmac in 1958, named after Harvey MacMillan. Today the pulp mill is owned by the employees and local investors[10] and injects well over half a million dollars a day into the local economy. The largest employer is the provincial government. 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 outletsEdit

Nanaimo Waterfront

Nanaimo Harbour

Nanaimo is served by three newspapers — the Glacier Media-owned Nanaimo Daily News with about 6367 (audited) copies six days a week and the Harbour City Star with approx. 37,000 copies (claimed) once per week, as well as the Black Press-owned Nanaimo News Bulletin (33,000 copies three times a week — audited). Nanaimo also hosts a bureau for CIVI-DT (CTV Two Victoria, cable channel 12) and a satellite office for CHEK-DT (Independent, cable channel 6).

Nanaimo is also served by the Jim Pattison Group's CHWF-FM (The Wolf) and CKWV-FM (The Wave), 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. Mark Bate became Nanaimo's first mayor in 1875. He served an additional 15 1-year terms as mayor (1876-1879, 1881-1886, 1888-1889, and 1898-1900).

Open GovernmentEdit

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. Nanaimo has been dubbed 'the capital of Google Earth'.[11] 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. Their Open Data Catalogue is available at


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.

Sprott-Shaw Community College, a private post-secondary institution, also has a campus in the city.


The Nanaimo Art Gallery has two locations, and showcases works by many artists year round.[12]The Port Theater in downtown Nanaimo hosts many performers and shows during the year.[13][14] A huge component of the underground music scene in Nanaimo is from the student body of Vancouver Island University.

The Nanaimo Blues Society has organized and presented five highly successful, Summertime Blues! festivals. These outdoor Blues festivals have been held in downtown Nanaimo featuring local, provincial, national and internationally renowned Blues musicians."Nanaimo Summertime Blues Festival". 

The Nanaimo Concert Band, known as the oldest continuous community band in Canada, was established in 1872. They maintain a regular schedule of concerts and feature some of the best musicians in the area. "Nanaimo Concert Band". 


The Nanaimo bar which is a no-bake cookie bar, is a Canadian dessert named after Nanaimo.


Notable residentsEdit

Sister citiesEdit

Nanaimo has one sister city:


  1. ^ "Nanaimo Municipal Hall". City of Nanaimo. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  2. ^ Nanaimo Info - History
  3. ^ home movie of the Nanaimo Chinatown Fire, 1960
  4. ^ Nanaimo Chinatowns website, Introduction
  5. ^ Vancouver Island University "Nanaimo in the 1980s" website, Chinatown page
  6. ^ Kottek, M.; J. Grieser, C. Beck, B. Rudolf, and F. Rubel (2006). "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated". Meteorol. Z. 15 (3): 259–263. DOI:10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0130. Retrieved on 2007-02-15. 
  7. ^ Global Ecological Zoning for the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000
  8. ^ Environment CanadaCanadian Climate Normals 1971–2000. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Nanaimo, British Columbia — Detailed City Profile". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Shaw, Rob (2008-03-10). "Postcard from Nanaimo How Google Earth Ate Our Town". Time.,8599,1720932,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  12. ^ "Nanaimo Art Gallery — Home". Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  13. ^ "The Port Theater — Index". Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  14. ^ "Nanaimo Arts Council". Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  15. ^

External linksEdit

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Coordinates: 49°09′51″N 123°56′11″W / 49.16417, -123.93639


Template:Subdivisions of British Columbia

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Nanaimo. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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