A Brief Glimpse at Departure Bay History

May 25th, 2017

Within the City of Nanaimo, Departure Bay lies on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Back in the day, Departure Bay was a tranquil retreat for Islanders to relax and unwind. Today, the area hums with harbour activity, from the regular sailings of the BC Ferries and floatplane landings to avid boaters and paddlers out for a cruise.

Since 1908, the Government of Canada has operated the Pacific Biological Station on the northern side of Departure Bay. As the oldest fisheries research center on the Pacific coast, the Station includes 22 buildings and a 200-lineal-foot wharf. Scientists and technicians research our local marine environment, examining stocks, aquaculture, and fish productivity.

Reaching further back in time prior to European contact, Departure Bay was the winter village location of the Snuneymuxw peoples. Longhouses used to rest where the Pacific Biological Station is currently located today. Archeological evidence indicates that the Snuneymuxw lived at Departure Bay for 1000s of years.

Over time, many feet have walked the shores of Departure Bay. (from the collection of the Nanaimo archives)

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