Leonard Krog (BC NDP)
Michelle Stilwell (BC Liberals)
Doug Routley (BC NDP)
91.30 km2 (35.25 sq mi)
1,280.84 km2 (494.54 sq mi)
28 m (92 ft)
90,504 (ranked 62nd)
918.0/km2 (2,378/sq mi)
104,936 (ranked 35th)
• Metro density
76.5/km2 (198/sq mi)
• Summer (DST)
Forward sortation area
V9R - V9V, V9X
Nanaimo /nəˈnaɪmoʊ/ (
Canada 2016 Census
Canada 2016 Census population 90,504) is a
city on the east coast of
Vancouver Island in British Columbia,
Canada. It is known as "The Harbour City". The city was previously
known as the "Hub City", which has been attributed to its original
layout design where the streets radiated out from the shoreline like
the spokes of a wagon wheel, as well as its generally centralized
Nanaimo is also the headquarters
of the Regional District of Nanaimo.
2 Location and geography
6 Media outlets
7.4 Open government
12 Notable residents
13 Sister cities
14 See also
16 External links
See also: List of coal mines and landmarks in the
Indigenous peoples of the area that is now known as
the Snuneymuxw. An anglicised spelling and pronunciation of that word
gave the city its current name.
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,
Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun ("Coal Tyee") informed the Hudson's
Bay Company of coal in the area. Exploration proved there was plenty
of it in the area and
Nanaimo became chiefly known for the export of
coal. In 1853 the company built the
Nanaimo Bastion, which has been
preserved and is a popular tourist destination in the downtown area.
Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company employee
Robert Dunsmuir helped establish coal
mines in the
Nanaimo harbour area 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
Nanaimo docks.
The gassy qualities of the coal which made it valuable also made it
1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion
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
Internment camp for Ukrainian detainees, many of them local, was
set up at a Provincial jail in
Nanaimo from September 1914 to
In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although
Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of
The city has been called "The Harbour City" since the lead up to Expo
Main article: Historical Chinatowns in Nanaimo
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 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 entrepreneurs bought
the site and tried to raise rents, in response, and with the help of
4,000 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 30 September 1960. A fourth Chinatown, also called Lower
Chinatown or "new town", boomed for a while in the 1920s on Machleary
Location and geography
Aerial photo of downtown and central
Nanaimo and adjacent islands.
Located on the east coast of
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
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 northern part of 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
Buttertubs Marsh is a bird sanctuary located in the middle of the
city. The marsh covers approximately 100 acres (40 hectares). Within
this is the 46 acre (18.7 hectare) "
Buttertubs Marsh Conservation
Area", owned by the Nature Trust of British Columbia.
Like much of coastal British Columbia,
Nanaimo experiences a temperate
climate with mild, rainy winters and cool, dry summers. Due to its
relatively dry summers, the
Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification places it
at the northernmost limits of the Csb or cool-summer Mediterranean
zone. Other climate classification systems, such as Trewartha,
place it firmly in the Oceanic zone (Do).
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
Heavy snowfall does occasionally occur during winter, with a record
daily total of 0.74 metres (29.13 in) on 12 February 1975, but
the mean maximum cover is only 0.2 metres (7.9 in).
The highest temperature ever recorded in
Nanaimo was 40.6 °C
(105 °F) on 16 July 1941. The coldest temperature ever
recorded was −20.0 °C (−4 °F) on 30 December 1968.
Climate data for
Nanaimo Airport, 1981–2010 normals, extremes
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average rainfall mm (inches)
Average snowfall cm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Average relative humidity (%) (at 3pm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Percent possible sunshine
Source: Environment Canada
Nanaimo is served by three airports:
Nanaimo Airport (YCD) with
Vancouver (YVR) and Calgary (YYC),
Nanaimo Harbour Water
Airport with services to
Vancouver harbour and
Vancouver Airport (YVR
South Terminal), and Nanaimo/Long Lake Water Airport.
Nanaimo also has
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
Highways 1, 19 and 19A traverse the city. Bus service in the city is
Nanaimo Regional Transit.
Nanaimo Port Authority operates the inner Harbour Basin marina
providing mooring for smaller vessels and the W. E. Mills Landing and
Marina providing mooring for larger vessels. The Port Authority
also operates two terminal facilities one at Assembly Wharf (near the
downtown core) and the second at Duke Point for cargo operations. In
2011 the Authority completed the addition of a $22 Million Cruise Ship
Terminal at Assembly Wharf capable of handling large cruise ships
Canada Border Services Agency clearance.
The 2011 Canadian Census reported that
Nanaimo had a population of
83,810, a 6.5% increase since 2006. The size of the city's land
area is 91.30 km², making the population density 918.0 people
per km². The average age of a Nanaimoite is 44.8 years old, higher
than the national median at 40.6.
The average number of people occupying one dwelling in the city is 2.3
people. In Nanaimo, there are 38,800 private dwellings, 36,204 which
are occupied by usual residents (93.3% occupancy rate). The median
value of these dwellings are $348,460, which is a fair-bit higher than
the national median at $280,552. The average (after-tax) household
Nanaimo is $48,469, slightly lower than the national median
at $54,089. The median individual income is $27,620, which is also a
bit lower than the national median ($29,878). The unemployment rate
The racial composition of
Nanaimo is mostly made up of descendants of
Europeans, however the Aboriginal population ratio is larger than the
national ratio. The entire racial make up is:
6.3% Aboriginal; 3.8% First Nations, 2.2% Métis
2.7% East Asian; 1.8% Chinese, 0.5% Japanese, 0.4% Korean
1.9% South Asian
1.3% Southeast Asian; 0.6% Filipino
0.3% Latin American
0.2% West Asian
0.2% Multiracial; 2.3% including Métis
More than half of Nanaimo's residents do not practice any religion
(51.7%), considerably higher than the national ratio (23.9%). However,
for those who do participate in religions, most are of a Christian
faith (44.7%), but there are still sizable Sikh communities (1.1%) and
Buddhist communities (0.6%).
Nanaimo's population is predominately Anglophone. According to the
2011 Census 88.6% of the population reported English only as mother
tongue, 1.4% reported French only, and 9.1% reported only a
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 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.
Technological development on
Nanaimo have been growing with companies
such as "Inuktun" and the establishment of government-funded
Innovation Island as a site to help Nanaimo-based technological start
ups by giving them access to tools, education and venture capital.
The average sale price of houses in
Nanaimo for 2011 was approximately
$350,000. 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, has 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
Nanaimo has also been experiencing job growth in the
technology sector.
Nanaimo is served by two newspapers—the Harbour City Star with
approximately 37,000 copies once per week, and the
Bulletin (33,000 copies twice a week—audited), which is owned by
Black Press. On 29 January 2016, its third newspaper, the 141-year old
Nanaimo Daily News, shut down.
Nanaimo also hosts a bureau for
CTV Two Victoria, cable channel 12) and a satellite office
CHEK-DT (Independent, cable channel 6).
Nanaimo is also served by the Jim Pattison Group's
CHWF-FM (The Wolf)
CKWV-FM (The Wave), as well as CHLY-FM, an independent community
campus radio station and Vista Radio's
CKAY-FM (Coast FM). CBC Radio
One is heard over CBU from Vancouver, providing
Nanaimo with local
Vancouver instead of from Victoria.
In the House of Commons of Canada,
Nanaimo is represented by Sheila
Malcolmson of the New Democratic Party, representing the riding of
Nanaimo—Ladysmith. The city was split into two separate ridings,
Nanaimo—Cowichan (Jean Crowder, New Democratic Party), which
Nanaimo and Cassidy, and
Lunney, Independent elected as a Conservative), which includes North
Nanaimo and Lantzville, until the 2012 federal electoral
In the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia,
represented by the ridings of
Nanaimo (Leonard Krog, British Columbia
New Democratic Party), Nanaimo-
North Cowichan (Doug Routley, British
Columbia New Democratic Party), and Nanaimo-Parksville (Michelle
British Columbia Liberal Party)
Nanaimo City Council
The mayor of
Nanaimo is currently Bill McKay, who replaced John Ruttan
The most well-known 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—at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon, which is
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 (1875–1879, 1881–1886,
1888–1889, and 1898–1900).
The city's planning department has, over the past five years,[when?]
steadily produced enough municipal data to warrant a Time magazine
article on open-government.
Nanaimo has been dubbed "the capital of
Google Earth". Working directly with Google, the city fed it a
wealth of information about its buildings, property lines, utilities
and streets. The result is earth.nanaimo.ca, a wealth of city data
viewed through the
Google Earth 3D mapping program. Their Open
Data Catalogue is available at data.nanaimo.ca.
Nanaimo has over 30 elementary and secondary schools, most of which
are public and are operated by School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
Aspengrove School is a JrK-grade 12 Independent (private) school
accredited as an
International Baccalaureate World School and offers
the IB Primary Years, IB Middle Years and IB Diploma programme and
received a 10 out of 10 by the IB Organization (IBO) in 2011.
Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique operates
two Francophone schools, école Océane primary school and the école
secondaire de Nanaimo.
The main campus of
Vancouver Island University is located in Nanaimo,
which brings many international students, mostly East Asian, to the
Nanaimo Art Gallery is a public art museum located downtown at 150
Commercial Street. In addition to contemporary exhibitions by local,
national and international artists, the Gallery operates Art Lab which
offers year-round art-based programs for learners of all ages. The
Gallery also holds a collection of artwork, operates The Gallery
Store, which features work by local artists and artisans, and runs
Artists in the Schools, a program that operates across three school
districts. The Port Theatre in downtown
Nanaimo hosts many
performers and shows during the year. Smaller, local theatre
companies such as In Other Words Theatre , Western Edge Theatre 
and Schmooze Productions  perform at the
Nanaimo Centre Stage .
Nanaimo also began running a fringe theatre festival in 2011 .
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".
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
Nanaimo Concert Band".
The Music Department at
Vancouver Island University offers a Bachelor
of Music in Jazz Studies. Faculty members include guitarist Pat
Coleman, and composer Pat Carpenter.
Vancouver Island University Jazz Programme".
Nanaimo Conservatory of Music, a non-profit, charitable
organization has been offering classical music lessons and producing
concerts since 1977.
Nanaimo Conservatory of Music".
Other prominent musicians in
Nanaimo include classical trumpeter Paul
Rathke and jazz composer and author Andrew Homzy.
Nanaimo bar, which is a no-bake cookie bar with custard filling,
is a Canadian dessert named after Nanaimo.
Nanaimo hosts the annual
Nanaimo Marine Festival. Part of the festival
includes the bathtub race. The race starts in the
downtown, goes around Entrance Island, north west to Winchelsea
Nanoose Bay and finish in Departure Bay back in Nanaimo.
Until the 1990s the race alternated between racing from
Vancouver and from
Vancouver to Nanaimo.
Nanaimo is home to the largest sports club on
Harbour City Football Club. HCFC is home to over 1700 members and is
also affiliated with
Nanaimo United Adult Soccer Club which is one of
the oldest sports clubs in
Canada (formed in 1907).
Nanaimo is home to North America’s first legal, purpose-made bungee
jumping bridge, operated by WildPlay Element Parks.
Nanaimo is home to the Canadian Junior Football League's Vancouver
Island Raiders, who play at Caledonia Park.
Nanaimo is home to the
British Columbia Hockey League's Nanaimo
Clippers and to the Western Lacrosse Association's
both of which play at the Frank Crane Arena.
Nanaimo is home to the
Nanaimo Buccaneers of the
Junior Hockey League, who play at the
Nanaimo Ice Centre.
Nanaimo Pirates, of the
B.C. Premier Baseball League
B.C. Premier Baseball League (BCPBL), play
at Serauxmen Stadium.
Nanaimo plays at Pioneer Park.
Nanaimo is home to the Senior A lacrosse team the Timbermen of the
Western Lacrosse Association.
Nanaimo is also home to the Junior A
Timbermen and the Intermediate A Timbermen.
Nanaimo is home to the
Nanaimo Hornets Rugby Football Club. Is part of
British Columbia Rugby Union, Established in 1888 is the second
oldest Rugby Club in Western Canada, Home ground and club is situated
in Pioneer Park since 1968.
Terry Beech, politician
Alfred George Richard "Red" Carr, father of Gene Carr, who played 8
seasons of senior hockey before he played NHL Hockey in 1943 for the
Toronto Maple Leafs. When he retired, he coached hockey for the
Vancouver Island Amateur League and was posthumously inducted into the
Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame in 2010
Gene Carr, NHL Hockey Player drafted by
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues (1st round,
4th overall of the 1971 NHL Amateur draft), New York Rangers, L.A.
Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Flames
Justin Chatwin, actor
Jimmy Claxton, baseball pitcher, born in nearby Wellington, who broke
the US baseball colour line
Raymond Collishaw, one of the highest scoring British Aces of World
War I, ranking overall third in the British Empire with 60 confirmed
Allison Crowe, singer-songwriter and pianist
John DeSantis, actor, best known for his role of Lurch on The New
Jodelle Ferland, actress
David Gogo, blues guitarist
Paul Gogo, keyboardist for the rock band Trooper
Ashleigh Harrington, actress
Christopher Hart, actor and magician, best known for his role of the
disembodied hand Thing in
The Addams Family
The Addams Family film series
Ingrid Jensen, jazz trumpeter
Susan Juby, author
Diana Krall, jazz pianist and vocalist
Tim Lander, poet
Oregon politician, was born here
Steve Smith, professional downhill mountain biker
Shane Sutcliffe, boxer
Kirsten Sweetland, triathlete
Nanaimo has one sister city:
Saitama City(←Iwatsuki City), Saitama Prefecture,
British Columbia portal
Nanaimo Municipal Hall". City of Nanaimo. Retrieved
^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and
territories, and population centres, 2011 and 2006 censuses: British
Columbia". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
^ Peterson, Jan (2003). Hub City: Nanaimo, 1886–1920. Surrey, BC:
Heritage House Publishing Company. ISBN 9781894384667. Retrieved
September 2, 2017. [page needed]
^ a b "Nanaimo's Historical Development" (PDF). Retrieved 18 October
^ "Internment Camps in
Canada during the First and Second World Wars,
Library and Archives Canada".
Nanaimo Info – History
^ a b "Introduction" (Archive).
Nanaimo Chinatowns Project, Malaspina
University-College. Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
^ "Chinese Community" (Archive).
Vancouver Island University.
Retrieved on 15 February 2015.
^ Kottek, M.; J. Grieser; C. Beck; B. Rudolf; 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
^ "GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL ZONING FOR THE GLOBAL FOREST RESOURCES ASSESSMENT
^ a b "July 1941". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada.
Retrieved 24 June 2016.
^ a b "
Nanaimo A". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment
Canada. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
^ "January 1893". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved
24 June 2016.
^ "February 1893". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada.
Retrieved 24 June 2016.
^ "April 2016". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved
24 June 2016.
Nanaimo Port Authority". Retrieved 2013-04-27.
Nanaimo cruise ship terminal nearing completion
^ NHS Profile, Nanaimo, CY, British Columbia, 2011 Retrieved 6
^ Statistics Canada. "Focus on Geography Series, 2011 Census: Census
agglomeration of Nanaimo, British Columbia". Retrieved 20 November
^ "Harmac". harmacpacific.com.
^ "Innovation Island - Business, Science & Technology Resources,
Vancouver Island". innovationisland.ca.
Nanaimo real estate profile. - Move To Nanaimo".
Nanaimo Daily News to cease operations Jan. 29".
News. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
Frank J. Ney
Frank J. Ney Fonds".
Nanaimo Archives. Retrieved 9 March
^ Past Mayors of Nanaimo
^ Shaw, Rob (2008-03-10). "Postcard from Nanaimo: How
Google Earth Ate
Our Town". Time. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ "Carte des écoles". Conseil scolaire francophone de la
Colombie-Britanique. Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
Nanaimo Art Gallery—Home". Retrieved 2010-10-26.
^ "The Port Theater—Index". Retrieved 2010-10-26.
Nanaimo Arts Council". Retrieved 2010-10-26.
^ The Race -
Nanaimo Marine Festival
^ "Ziplining & Bungee Jumping". hellobc.com. 5 May 2013.
^ "First Legal Bridge Bungy in North America - Wild Play Element Parks
Nanaimo Traveller Reviews - TripAdvisor".
^ Extreme high and low temperatures are from
Nanaimo (January 1892 to
February 1947) and
Nanaimo Airport (March 1947 to present).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Nanaimo.
Learn About Nanaimo's Heritage
Google Earth data for the City of Nanaimo
Yuquot (Friendly Cove)
Subdivisions of British Columbia
Forest regions and districts
Ministry of Environment regions
Counties (court system)
Indian government districts
Mountain resort municipalities
Metro areas and
Fort St. John
Coordinates: 49°09′51″N 123°56′11″W / 49.16417°N
123.93639°W / 49