NAME: Nanaimo
CLIMATE: Snow in winter, warm to hot in summer
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Mid July to early September, COLD in Winter
COMMENTS: Beautiful Setting. Semi-Ghost
REMAINS: The original mining areas.

The coal in Nanaimo was discovered quite by accident in late 1849. An Indian who was visiting Victoria in the Fall of that year to have his gun repaired, told the blacksmith working for the Hudson’s Bay Company of all the black rocks he had where he lived. The Indian was instructed to bring some of these black rocks back with him and he would get his musket repaired for free, and he would also get a bottle of rum for his troubles. Shortly after, the Indian returned to Victoria in his canoe full of seemingly high grade coal. Governor Douglas instructed Joseph McKay to head up a party to travel up island in 1852 to examine these deposits. Nanaimo was then known as “Wentuhusyen Inlet”. Miners were sent from Fort Rupert to this new location to set up workings. The Nanaimo bastion, which still stands today, was started then and finished the following year. Nanaimo was known as Colville Town until 1860, when it became home of the famous ‘NANAIMO’ bar. Coal was mined around the area until the 1960’s, when the last mine of the hub area, in Comox, closed. The mine area’s of the day were Extension, Morden, Cedar, Wellington, Yellow Point, South Wellington, Ladysmith, Miner’s Park, Gabriola, Cinnabar, Lantzville, Harewood, Jingle Pot, Newcastle, and the like. Morden Mine colliery site (PCCM) is now a heritage site with the cement pithead still looming in the tree’s. Many of the mine shafts traveled far out under the ocean and are largely filled with sea water today. For more information on the mining on Vancouver Island there is a book you can purchase called “Boss Whistle” which details the stories of the miners and how the mines affected their lives. Nanaimo city and its area is very rich in history and although not a technical ‘ghost town’, its outlying unoccupied area’s have become ghosts. There is even the infamous story of brother seven and his cult living on a little island off Cedar. Nanaimo is quite the little city now – 127,000 people live in the city as of 2001. The outlying area’s have sprouted into communities of their own adding to the population. 2 ferry terminals head into Nanaimo from the Vancouver area (Tswassen & Horseshoe Bay). Ferry travel to Nanaimo with normal passenger vehicle is about $55+ Can EACH WAY! Which is a little prohibitive. But once on the soil of Vancouver Island you can visit the whole island =) Victoria is on the South tip of the island and is the capital of British Columbia. There are many things to do and see in Nanaimo, from visiting the Newcastle Island park, climbing Mt. Benson, watching the start of the bathtub races (usually in July – without a lie these people race bathtubs from Nanaimo harbour to Vancouver!), traveling out to Long Beach on the West coast of Vancouver Island. Plenty of skiing to do in the winter up island north. There are museums, a university-college, many malls, arena’s, pools, marina’s. Having grown up outside Nanaimo, I am prejudiced but the Island is a beautiful history packed place to visit. There are many little islands around Nanaimo to visit as well. Gabriola, Newcastle, Protection, and Mudge to name a few. Warm temperatures in the summer and colder in the winter with little snow at residential levels. Funny story about Nanaimo comes from when I was in high school there in the 80’s. One morning on the local radio news was a report of a basement missing. No lie. It seems during the night an old shaft had opened up and here was this house still standing, but having a hole for a basement! The concrete of this particular basement was somewhere down that hole along with furniture and belongings. Needless to say, the family moved. But this story was repeated every few years with yet another shaft reclaiming its territory. L Plecas

Kataz Digital Photography

Lantzville Beach, North of Nanaimo, BC Sept 2001
Kataz Digital Photography

Lighthouse off Gabriola Island, Nanaimo Harbour, BC Sept 2001
Kataz Digital Photography

Purple Starfish off the sea shore, Lantzville Beach near Nanaimo BC Sept 2001
Kataz Digital Photography