Walk Around Nanaimo

The Railroad Connection Walk Around Nanaimo, BC

Nanaimo is a city in British Columbia, Canada. It’s located on the east coast of Vancouver Island and it was originally inhabited by the Snuneymuxw First Nation people and was once a prosperous coal-mining town. One fun fact about this region is that it has one of the longest continuous histories in North America, with evidence dating back to 9,000 years ago. It’s known for its beautiful natural scenery and beaches. But not only that, but it was also once the home of many Indigenous people who lived off fishing and harvesting shellfish from the bay.  

The first European settlers arrived in 1853 when gold prospectors came to town looking for their fortune during a time when such finds were truly rare! They found what they were looking for and more as they discovered coal deposits there too. With the discovery of these natural resources, many new mines opened up and so did commercial opportunities with coal. 

In the 20th century, it became an industrial center with aluminum production, coal mining, and sawmills that employed many people. Nanaimo has experienced some recent economic downturns but today there are new industries including tourism, fishing, and forestry which make up for it. Ghosts of the past loom large in this rustic region, where history’s echoes resonate with haunting resonance. The sounds of hobnailed boots still echo from long gone coalminers as you explore Canada’s most historic ghost town and then step back to First Nations village sites for a glimpse into what life was like before European settlers arrived. This blog post will explore the history of this wonderful region by the railroad connection walk.

BC Telephone Exchange – 70-76 Bastion Street

The BC Telephone Exchange building at 70-76 Bastion Street is one of the few remaining buildings from Vancouver’s telephone exchange era. This was a time when telephones were first being installed in homes and businesses, and this building was where all of that happened. It has been abandoned for over 20 years now, but it still stands as a reminder of what once was. 

Commercial Hotel– 121 Bastion Street

The Commercial Hotel is a beautiful historical building that has been renovated to be more modern and functional but retains its original charm. The hotel’s history dates back to the late 1800s when it was originally built as a home for prominent businessmen of the time. These days, it serves as an affordable place to stay during your visit to Nanaimo or any other destination in British Columbia.

Eagles Hall – 133-141 Bastion Street

Eagles Hall is a historic building on Bastion Street that has been the home of many organizations and companies over the years. This year, it was renovated to include an event venue for weddings, birthdays, corporate functions, and more. There are also two commercial spaces available to rent out. The company was founded in 1885 as Eagles Manufacturing Company by John Neeb-Nygaard Sr. 

Willard Service Station – 299 Wallace Street

Built around 1910, this vernacular commercial building was once a service station; it then served as a tire and battery shop, fish and chip restaurant, art gallery showcase and in 1922 the home of Nanaimo’s first radio station.

Rangers Shoes – 310 Fitzwilliam Street

The Rangers Shoes are one of the hidden gems in Nanaimo’s shopping district, with their 310 Fitzwilliam Street location just steps away from some of the best shops in town. This store has been around for over 100 years and they’re more than happy to help you find your perfect fit. Part of the Old City Quarter’s historic streetscape, this building has housed many different business ventures over the last century. One well-known tenant was an auto upholstery business, but it became home to an elite art gallery showcasing contemporary pieces from all facets of the industry in recent years.

St. Andrews United Church – 315 Fitzwilliam Street

In this late-Victorian style church, the voices still soar during services, concerts, and festivals. The tall bell tower and striking architectural style make it ideal for concerts, festivals, or even weddings. Built-in 1893 by an American architect with a Romanesque influence, it is now one of Nanaimo’s most prominent landmarks thanks to its tall bell tower and steep roofline. The worship consists not only in singing but also in speaking out words that are thought and felt.

S&W Apartments – 403-409 Fitzwilliam Street

Nestled in the heart of Nanaimo, S&W Apartments offers a unique opportunity to live close to downtown. The property is conveniently located just minutes away from shopping along Commercial Street and all the amenities that come with living in a vibrant city. The architecture firm of William Arthur Owen developed units to replace hotels and repair garage doors providing other living options such as dormitories and boarding houses. They remain in use today with downtown shops below the apartments.

Mitchell’s Market  – 411 Fitzwilliam Street

Originally a market and meat shop, this one-story building was erected in 1922 by Thomas B. Mitchell. Though renovations have modified parts of the exterior, large front windows that once acted as displays are still intact from the time period when it was first built. The Mitchell’s Market location at 411 Fitzwilliam Street is the perfect place to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, and all your favorite household items. Whatever your needs are, they’ve got it covered.

T&B Apartments – 413-417 Fitzwilliam Street

Formerly part of the historic cluster of commercial apartment buildings in the Old City Quarter, this building was built in 1920. Although original plans are unavailable, a square projecting bay and small gable over the central window suggest it has Swiss Chalet style which was popular at such time.

Agell’s Trading – 426 Fitzwilliam Street

Scottish-born builder and designer Alexander Forester emigrated to Nanaimo in 1891. He became heavily involved with civic affairs, where he served as an alderman and school trustee. His building style was functional interwar: practicality was important during this time period of economic downturns.

Occidental Hotel – 432 Fitzwilliam Street

The “Oxy” has been in continuous use for over 100 years. A Victorian Italianate building, architect John Teague designed the imposing vertical proportions and tall rounded windows and doors in 1886 at a time of prosperity when the E&N Railway was completed and the coal mining industry expanding.

Rawlinson & Glaholm Grocers – 437 Fitzwilliam Street

E.J. Bresemann was the architect of this Edwardian-era commercial building. Built in 1916 and located along with a corner gateway into the Old City Quarter, an elegant historic neighborhood with a modern shopping district.

Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Station – 321 Selby Street

Constructed by Canadian Pacific Railway in 1920, this station replaces the one built by E&N Railway 18 years ago when the railway first opened. The terminal with its striking central tower caught fire in 2007 and was renovated faithfully. It has been designated as a heritage building by the City of Victoria and is now operated as a museum. The station features an original wood-burning stove, wooden benches, and artifacts from the early 1900s for visitors to explore.

Franklyn Street Gymnasium – 421 Franklyn Street

Vancouver architectural firm Gardiner and Mercer designed this historical building in 1912. It is boxy with a utilitarian design, dedicated to the Nanaimo Board of School Trustees. Construction began in 1922 when it was complete as an auditorium/gymnasium for public use and has remained that ever since continuously used among students from the earliest years.

Harris Residence – 375 Franklyn Street

Built around 1898 by miner Morgan Harris and wife Harriet, the Harris Residence is one of the only examples in Nanaimo of Queen Anne Revival style. Rich ornamentation found on this charming house has remained intact despite decades of slight changes to improve modern function.

City Hall – 455 Wallace Street

Completed in 1951, the City Hall conveys to this day the image of progress and modernity intended by Nanaimo architect Thomas B. McArravy. The front, as well as siderite rock gardens designed at the same time as the building soften its formal architecture

Brumpton Block – 481-489 Wallace Street

Built in 1912, this commercial landmark has a long history of being tied to the Wong family. The most well-known member of the family is Edward T. Loc (1910-1983), who operated “The Diners’ Rendezvous” for several decades starting in the mid-1950s. In 1956, Thomas McArravy’s architectural company

Merchant’s Bank OF Canada – 499 Wallace Street

The only example of the elegant Free Renaissance style in Nanaimo, the Merchant Bank was designed by Francis Mawson Rattenbury in 1912. It is still easy to discern outlines of its cornices or see inside at its ornate ceiling that largely remains intact.

Provincial Liquor Store – 25 Cavan Street

Horizontally proportioned, built of cast-in-place concrete, featuring glass block walls and curved entry walls, this former liquor store constructed by the BC government in 1949 is a classic example of Streamline Moderne architecture. The design can be credited to post-war economic renewal and a move towards modernity for the downtown core.

Nanaimo Firehall NO.2 – 34 Nicol Street

The Victorian Italianate style was popular for fire halls in the late 1800s, and Fire Hall No.2 is decorated in this fashion to be a protective icon of New York City. The ornate building also includes an early hose tower that became necessary when the original water hose could not reach high enough up on the tall buildings.


The Most Interesting Museums in Nanaimo, BC

Museums are considered institutions that house collections of artifacts or specimens from natural history, archaeology, science, and other disciplines within art history such as paintings and sculptures. Museums are a great place for visitors of all ages. They offer educational opportunities and fun activities for children, families, and adults alike. Museums typically provide public access through an exhibition space where there may be displays including artwork or installed exhibits like fossils.

There are many different types of museums in the world. From art museums that will inspire creativity in your artistic child to science museums that will introduce your little scientist to some of the world’s most intriguing discoveries.  From art galleries to natural history museums, there are plenty of options for everyone. They all have their own story to tell and offer a unique experience for visitors, which is why it’s so important to visit as many as you can. Many people enjoy visiting museums to learn about new types of art, view historical artifacts, and allow their imaginations to wander. 

The City of Nanaimo is home to many amazing museums that showcase the history and culture of this beautiful city. From science exhibits to a museum about climate change, there are plenty of places for visitors to explore. A museum will take you on an educational journey that can lead to more questions as well as answers. It’s a place where your imagination comes alive through objects and artifacts from the past. In Nanaimo, there are different types of museums for visitors: art, history, science & nature, and social history. Nanaimo is booming with culture. From art galleries to museums, Nanaimo has everything you need for a day of learning and exploring. Museums in particular are an excellent way to learn about the history of Nanaimo and its locals. Explore our most popular museums with this blog post.

Nanaimo Museum

The Nanaimo Museum is located in downtown Nanaimo on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. It presents new, reflective programming that allows visitors to explore the history and heritage of our area. The museum has seen a lot of changes over the years, and it’s constantly looking for new ways to make its visitors feel welcome. The exhibits have been updated with cutting-edge technology that makes you see art like never before. Visitors to the museum today will find award-winning exhibits, a popular meeting and reception spaces, and a destination Gift Shop. The expanded space has allowed the museum to bring top-ranked feature exhibits from the Canadian History Museum, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, or Vancouver Art Gallery for example.

A visit to the Nanaimo Museum will take you on a trip from around the world and back again. Whether wandering through British Columbia history at our Feature Exhibit or exploring smaller collections of art created by members of our local community, there’s something for everyone! A museum is more than just walls full of artifacts – it’s a place where culture can be explored in all its forms. Stop into one today so that we may show you what they have planned next time your travels bring you near us here in beautiful downtown Nanaimo.

The Bastion

The Bastion, built-in 1853 and recognized by its three floors of wooden timbers, is Nanaimo’s most recognizable landmark. The sturdy fort was moved twice thanks to politics and land deals before becoming a symbol for the city’s history today: it represents activities from when Hudson Bay Company traders first came up with their mining post here back in 1853; now visitors can explore this former trading outpost which has been restored as part of modern-day Nanaimo.

The Bastion was constructed using the piece-to-piece technique which uses timbers laid atop one another horizontally with tenons cut on each end. The tenons are inserted into vertical grooves in the eight vertical posts, while the bottom sill log was set onto a masonry foundation. This construction method is known for its use of basic hand tools: a crosscut saw, broad ax, adze, and auger were all used to achieve this feat.

For centuries, the Bastion served as a symbol of Nanaimo. The first floor displays day-to-day trading operations from hundreds of years ago, while the second floor showcases cannons and armaments used during this time period. Visitors can also learn about colonial miner artifacts that were essential to building it on display in the third level.

Vancouver Island Military Museum

The Vancouver Island Military Museum is a military museum that focuses on the history of all branches of the military. They have over 60,000 artifacts and objects which are stored in their buildings. It features over 3,000 artifacts and 26 galleries, including a Great War gallery with uniforms and equipment. The museum has been around for 50 years and is open year-round. The museum also has rotating exhibits so visitors can see different things every time they visit. Visitors may be interested to know that there is no cost for entry into the museum but donations are welcomed! 

The Vancouver Island Military Museum is a museum that showcases the military history of British Columbia from the First Nations to World War II. It features over 3,000 artifacts and 26 galleries, including a Great War gallery with uniforms and equipment. The museum has been around for 50 years and is open year-round. The Vancouver Island Military Museum was opened in 1998 with volunteers from the Canadian Forces Base Comox and Royal Canadian Air Force base Esquimalt taking charge until 2001 when it became an official non-profit organization run by a board of directors. Volunteers help to maintain and organize some of the more fragile artifacts while other volunteers operate as guides during tours or work at various events.

VIU Museum Of Natural History

The VIU Museum of Natural History provides a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to natural history in an environment that is fun for the whole family. The museum has 12 themed galleries and 2 walk-in live animal exhibits with more than 400 specimens on display. It hosts various exhibits such as the Dinosaur Gallery, featuring original fossils from BC’s Dinosaur Point Provincial Park, and the Coastal Peoples gallery which houses artifacts from First Nations on Vancouver Island. It is a fantastic place to learn about the world. The museum has many interactive exhibits and lives animals that you can touch. They also have an outdoor discovery garden with over 100 native species of plants, trees, and flowers.

The VIU Museum of Natural History is a great place to take your kids or friends if they are interested in learning about animals from around the world. It’s a place where kids can come to get their hands-on science through interactive exhibits, or adults can escape from their everyday lives into an immersive environment that will take them back to childhood. It’s also home to VIU’s newest research facility – The Lab Of Life Sciences – which houses some of our most advanced equipment available for public use. The Museum of Natural History is a place where you can explore the natural world and experience what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. From fossils and minerals to animal specimens, there’s something for everyone in this one-of-a-kind museum. 


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