Nanaimo Tourist Attractions
The Vancouver Island section of the TransCanada Highway terminates at Nanaimo (the island's second largest town) where ferries leave Departure Bay on the 67 km / 42 mi crossing to Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver). Nanaimo evolved from a Hudson's Bay Company settlement called Colville Town, which owed its existence to the alertness of Company agents who saw the potential in the coal deposits they were shown by local Indians.
The first settlers, mainly English and Scottish miners, arrived in 1851 and for the next 75 years coal dominated Nanaimo's economy. Demand fell sharply after the Second World War however and in 1953 production ceased at the town's last remaining mine.Today Nanaimo makes its living from the timber and fishing industries, from its harbor, and to an ever increasing extent from tourism. The offshore islands in the Strait of Georgia, and the surrounding mountains and lakes, all offer good opportunities for recreation. Indisputably the highpoint of Nanaimo's year is the "Great International Bathtub Race" in mid-July. Nothing daunted the participants in this now classic event set out to cross the 55 km (34 mi.) Georgia Strait to Vancouver in a flotilla of variously modified, outboard-engine bathtubs.
Bastion (Closed Temporarily)
THE BASTION IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR REPAIRS.Standing on Front Street is a small wooden tower known as the Bastion. The only remaining one of its kind it was built by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1853 as protection for the settlement's pioneer miners in the event of Indian attack. Inside today is a little museum. Every noon throughout July and August soldiers in period uniform fire one of the two cannon with appropriate ceremony. The old town center overlooking the picturesque little small craft harbor (also the seaplane terminal) has been rejuvenated with many restored old buildings, re-cobbled streets and sidewalks, and open-air cafés in which to sit and relax. The walk along Waterfront Promenade, past Georgia Park with its display of authentic Indian canoes and totem poles, to Swy-A-Lana Lagoon is really delightful.
Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park
Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park features caves at the Horne Lake Caverns and camping and water based activities on Horne Lake. The caves here are for the most part undeveloped, without installed lighting or paved paths, leaving a very natural environment. Visitors can take guided tours with various levels of difficulty available.Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park also offers camping, canoeing and other nature based activities.The park is located north of Qualicum Beach.
Gabriola Island, Canada
Gabriola, the northernmost of the Gulf Islands, is a quiet holiday retreat with little chalets and holiday homes, enchanting bays and eye-catching viewpoints.In summer one of the highlights is the Saturday Farmer's Market, with fruits, vegetables, and baking for sale. There are also a variety of shops and galleries. For nature lovers there are beaches and good offshore scuba diving.
Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park
Popular with trippers (passenger ferry in summer) the 300 ha (740 acre) Newcastle Island which directly faces the harbor provides fine views of the coast and the mountains (Nares Point). The Pavilion, built in 1931, contains a Visitors Center (information about walks, coastal flora and fauna, and the island's interesting history). Boat hire and beach.
The Nanaimo Museum deals with a variety of topics related to Vancouver Island, including First Nations, Chinese, and European influences. There is a mining exhibit, an onsite miner's cottage, a restored 1890s locomotive and much more. Visitors can learn about the community and the harbour through changing exhibits.
Address: 100 Museum Way, Nanaimo, BC V9R2X1, Canada
Opening hours: May 18 to Sep 3: 10am-5pm
Sep 4 to May 17: 10am-5pm; Closed: Sun, Mon
Sep 4 to May 17: 10am-5pm; Closed: Sun, Mon
Always opened on: Canada Day (Jul 1), Labor Day - Canada (1st Monday, Sep), Easter Monday - Christian
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - Canada (2nd Monday, Oct), New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Entrance fee in CAD: Adult $2.00, Students $1.75, Senior $1.75, Child 12 & under $.75, Child 4 & under FREE
Petroglyph Provincial Park
The highlight of Petroglyph Provincial Park, near Nanaimo, is the concentration of prehistoric rock carvings which date back over 1000 years. This is a day use park only, offering interpretive plaques along a short walk. The petroglyphs depict various animals, fish, and humans.
Nanaimo Art Gallery
Nanaimo Art Gallery is on the Malaspina University-College campus. Local, regional and national exhibits are featured. The company also operates a downtown sales gallery at 150 Commercial Street in Nanaimo.
Nanoose Bay, Canada
26 km / 16 mi north-west of Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay has some well-frequented bathing beaches and a large, sheltered yacht harbor (sailing school, boat hire, Naval submarine training establishment).
Harmac Pulp and Lumber Mill (Harmac Pacific Inc.)
Definitely to be recommended is the tour of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd.'s fascinating Harmac Pulp & Lumber Mill (a sawmill and cellulose factory).