From a working harbour where the first European settlers arrived, to a modern day hub for tourists and locals alike, Nanaimo’s downtown harbour has always been the true heart of the city. While the waterfront has changed dramatically over time, the harbour has preserved its role in both the city’s history and identity.
Named a port of entry in 1863, the harbour was the central figure in the city’s early days. It was here where the first coal seams were found. It was also here that the first immigrants and visitors docked. As such, the original settlement grew around the harbour. Early city planners even developed a unique layout for the city, with the streets stemming from the central harbour outwards in an almost fan-like shape. (From the Nanaimo Archives)