#nanaimo real estate
The Harbour City
Inside a protected Harbour, on the east coast of Vancouver Island the First Nation of the Coast Salish created a cultured lifestyle from abundant ocean and forest harvests. This culture, rich in art, was preserved in petroglyphs and pictographs, a recorded history that can still be appreciated in its natural setting in the City that would adapt the First Nation name to become the cosmopolitan City of Nanaimo.
In 1851 Che-wech-i-kan, a Snuney-muxw Chieftain later known as Coal Tyee revealed that there was an abundance of coal in the area to the Hudson Bay Company (HBC). By 1852 James Douglas and the HBC had shipped the first load of coal from the protected Harbour. Working men and immigrating families from England, Scotland, China, Croatia, Finland, Italy, and Japan arrived to work the mines; they lived in temporary bunkhouses and cabins along Front Street.
In 1864 George Deverill mapped a hub-styled plan wherein roads radiated outward from the City’s commercial centre. Families bought lots at auction and built Victorian, Edwardian, and craftsman style homes on Milton, Selby, and Wentworth Streets. Streets that have, today, enjoyed a renewal of appreciation and are a short stroll to Bowen Park, treasured parkland in the centre of town. Young professionals, university students, artisans, families, and retirees flock to the Old City Quarter, inhabiting new housing developments and refurbishing century-old homes with urban flare.
The City of Nanaimo (the third oldest incorporated BC City) initiated a renaissance in the 1980s and has since created a dramatic downtown district that inspires lifestyle participation and artistic expression. Nanaimo’s Seawall runs the length of Newcastle Channel to the saltwater lagoon at Swy-A-Lana Park, has views of Canada’s only floating Pub, and leads to the Bastion (HBC’s last remaining Bastion Fortress, now a museum). Harbour life is active; hip cafes satisfy foodies, vinyl record stores and antique bookshops open onto Commercial Street, and one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques are abuzz with fashion-forward shoppers. In addition, a new library, innovative museum, and the contemporary Vancouver Island Conference Centre offer education and business venues at a prime location.
Nanaimo City claims the title of Bathtub Racing Capital of the World, brave men and women huddle in motorized bathtubs to race along the choppy whitecaps of the Georgia Straight, hoping to be first to ring the bell and claim the envious title of Champion of the annual Bathtub Race. Nanaimo is also home to extensive hiking trails, public-access beaches, and parks at Newcastle Island, Neck Point, Pipers Lagoon, and Westwood Lake. Recreation is taken seriously so City-run ice rinks, swimming pools, skate parks, and green spaces are plentiful. Nanaimo is also home to the newly designated Vancouver Island University (VIU, formerly Malaspina University-College) which delivers degree programs, international students, scholarly research, and the popular Elder College which caters to retirees.
Nanaimoites value artistic enterprise and widely support the Award-winning Port Theatre, lecture series and film festivals, and the City’s dynamic arts community. Nanaimo received the prestigious title of Cultural Capital of Canada in 2008. While Nanaimo was built on coal mining, then logging, pulp and paper, and fisheries it offers diverse business opportunities and reports a consistent increase in small business startups each year.
The City has expanded northwards over the last century and a half, but the downtown hub has enjoyed resurgence in popularity. Furthermore, access by ferry, highway, train, and air/sea plane makes Nanaimo an affordable alternative to Vancouver or Victoria real estate.