Nanaimo (pronounced /nəˈnaɪmoʊ/) is the second largest city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Current population is around 85,000 people. You can visit the City’s website here to see the 2006 consensus. Nanaimo 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 seat 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 1800s; 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.
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 Dunmuir 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 Vancouver Coal Company through the Nanaimo docks.
The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion killed 150 miners and was the largest man-made explosion until the Halifax Explosion. In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business, although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.
Nanaimo is served by two airports: Nanaimo Airport with services to Vancouver and Nanaimo Harbour Water Airport with services to Vancouver harbour.. 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. There is also regular passenger train service south to Victoria and north to Courtenay along the E and N Railway.
Highways 1, 19 and 19A traverse the city. Bus service in the city is provided by Nanaimo Regional Transit.
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 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 with NCO Group call centre a close second. The service,retail and tourism industries are also big contributors to the local economy.
Nanaimo is served by three newspapers – the Canwest-owned Nanaimo Daily News with about 10,500 copies six days a week and the Harbour City Star with nearly 40,000 copies twice a week, as well as the Black Press-owned Nanaimo News Bulletin (35,000 copies three times a week). Nanaimo also hosts a bureau for CIVI-TV (A Victoria, cable channel 12) and a satellite office for CHEK-TV (E!, cable channel 6).
Nanaimo is also served by the Jim Pattison Group’s CHWF-FM and CKWV-FM, as well as CHLY-FM, an independent community campus radio station. CBC Radio One is heard over CBU from Vancouver.
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. The school is also renowned for its music programs, such as its jazz program. Its MBA Program also attracts many international students from all over the world.