Nanaimo (Canada 2006 Census population 78,692) is the second largest city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It 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.
Located on Vancouver Island at , Nanaimo is about 55 km west of Vancouver, separated by the Strait of Georgia, but directly linked to Vancouver via BC Ferries. By virtue of its proximity to Vancouver, Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations both on the island — Tofino, Comox Valley, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park — and off its coast — Newcastle Island, Protection Island, Gabriola Island, Valdes Island, and many other of the Gulf Islands. Nanaimo has often been referred to as 'A mall in search of a city' due to the malls that stretch from the south to the north.
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 established coal mines in the Nanaimo harbour area and later to Wellington at Northfield. With the success of Dunsmuir and Diggle, the first company, more mines came to the area. Dunsmuir bought his partner out, and expanded his operations to include a steam railway. Dunsmuir sold the coal to the Royal Navy ships, and exported it to Puget Sound and San Francisco. 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 has 3 airports, Nanaimo Airport with services to Vancouver, Nanaimo Harbour Water Airport with services to Vancouver harbour, and Nanaimo/Long Lake Water Airport. Along with three airports, Nanaimo also has three BC Ferry terminuses 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.
A recent surge of higher-density real estate development, centred in the Old City/Downtown area, as well as construction of a city-funded waterfront conference centre, have proven controversial. Proponents of these developments argue that they will bolster the city's economy, while critics worry that they will block waterfront views and increase traffic congestion. Concerns have also been raised about the waterfront conference centre's construction running over its proposed budget. The current council is working hard to solve illegal drug and motorcycle club issues, including hiring security personnel to patrol certain areas of the downtown core. Nanaimo has also been experiencing job growth in the technology sector.
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 the Black Press-owned Nanaimo News Bulletin (35,000 copies three times a week). Nanaimo is served by television broadcasters: a bureau for A-Channel, which is carried on local cable channel 12, and a satellite office for CHEK-TV, which is carried on cable 6.
The main campus of Vancouver Island University, formerly known as Malaspina University-College, is located in Nanaimo, which brings many international students to the city. The school is also renowned for its music programs, particularly the jazz program, pioneered by Professor Steve Jones, among others.
Nanaimo is home to the oldest continuous community band in Canada, The Nanaimo Concert Band, established in 1872. Nanaimo is also known for its bathtub race during the annual marine festival, and for firing a cannon (blank) on the parapet next to the Bastion, (a bastion or fort), every day at noon during the summer months and for special events.
Nanaimo is home to Petroglyph Provincial Park, where visitors can view ancient petroglyph rock carvings and runes. Newcastle Island is another provincial park in Nanaimo, and was at one time a world-famous summertime tourist destination.
Nanaimo is named for the Snuneymuxw people.
Nanaimo is the origin of the famous Nanaimo bar dessert, which has its origins in the early 1950s.
The Civic arena built in 1939 was torn down in the fall of 2006. During its demolition, Native artifacts were found beside and under the arena.
The Nanaimo midget 'A' Timbermen won the 2006 British Columbia provincial championships.
The Nanaimo BMX Association has hosted the American Bicycle Association (ABA) World Cup twice. First in 1997, then again in 2004. Thousands of racers and their families came to compete and enjoyed Nanaimo and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.