Nanaimo North ~ “The Harbour City”
The City of Nanaimo is a flourishing art, business, and recreational centre as well as “the hub” of Vancouver Island. Nanaimo has surpassed its natural boundaries of the Nanaimo River estuary, Mount Benson, and the Millstone River to expand along its ocean shoreline – from the pastoral acreages of Cedar and Yellow Point, to the front yard waterways of Lantzville and Nanaimo River. While Nanaimo was built on coal mining, logging, pulp and paper, and fisheries it now offers diverse business opportunities and new business startups are consistently on the rise.
Nanaimo is also home to the newly designated Vancouver Island University (VIU, formerly Malaspina University-College) which hosts degree programs, international students, scholarly research, and the popular Elder College which caters to retirees. Access by ferry, highway, train, and air/sea plane makes the City an affordable alternative to Vancouver or Victoria real estate. Nanaimo has grown into a cosmopolitan hometown of 80,000 people with deep cultural roots and a commitment to lifestyle participation.
Nanaimo-Downtown offers a cultured tradition of heritage, arts, cuisine, and boutique shopping while Nanaimo-North offers residential and recreational opportunities to satisfy all lifestyles. The City celebrates its unique identity at the Vancouver Island Exhibition, an old-fashioned agricultural fair, the Maple Sugar Festival, paying tribute to French Canadian culture, and the Marine Festival’s world famous Bathtub Race, transforming the City every July for more than forty years.
Nanaimo proudly supports a sporting tradition with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, Western Lacrosse Association’s Nanaimo Timbermen, the Nanaimo Hornets Rugby Club, and the Canadian Junior Football League’s National Champions the Vancouver Island Raiders. The city has several ice rinks, swimming facilities, recreational centres, and tennis courts. Nanaimo’s Sports Hall of Fame is located at the Nanaimo Museum in the new Vancouver Island Convention Centre on Commercial Street, in the heart of town.
Recreational adventure is minutes from any doorstep. Westwood Lake has freshwater swimming and paddling, six kilometres of well-maintained hiking trails, and extensive mountain bike tracks for the more rugged cyclist. Long Lake reflects waterfront estates and is home to canoes, kayaks, and the Nanaimo Rowing Club while Brannen Lake welcomes motorboats and campers. Painters, hikers, and photographers rove the ocean-side length of Pipers Lagoon, Neck Point Park, and Newcastle Island Provincial Park. Disc golf, beach volleyball, outdoor pool, sledding in the winter, and picnicking between the rhododendron grove and the Millstream River are what Nanaimoites love about Bowen Park . . . a precious greenbelt in the centre of it all.
For those with greater fortitude, bungee jumping (the first in North America), zip lines, and a treetop suspension network is available a few minutes from the City. Scuba enthusiasts dive on three artificial reefs sunk off Nanaimo; HMCS Saskatchewan – a 366 foot destroyer, HMCS Cape Breton, the world’s largest upright artificial reef, and the RivTow Lion, a rescue tug submerged in Departure Bay for novice divers to explore. Nanaimo was the recipient of the “Top 25 Canada Award” in TripAdvisor’s 2008 Traveler’s Choice Destination Award and was named a “Culture Capital of Canada” in 2008.