Community Spirit – Influential Nanaimo Mayors

March 2nd, 2017

As you cruise around Nanaimo, you might notice a few reminders of two mayors who have left their mark on the Harbour City.

Known as “Pete” to his friends, Peter Maffeo stood out as an exceptional mayor from 1957-1967. During his time as mayor, the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team came to Nanaimo. On their first night in Nanaimo, the Globetrotters were refused service at the Hotel Malaspina because of the colour of their skin. Once Maffeo heard of this racist incident, he immediately offered the team accommodation and a spaghetti dinner. Thirty years later, the team presented Maffeo with a silver award. Today, one of Nanaimo’s destination parks – Maffeo Sutton Park – was named in honour of Mayor Maffeo.

Maffeo’s successor as mayor, Frank Ney, became an iconic figure in Nanaimo’s history. Ney was a charismatic leader, sitting in office as mayor from 1968-1984 and 1986-1990. In 1967, Ney was responsible for launching Nanaimo’s first bathtub race, marking Canada’s 100th birthday. Now, the race has evolved into the renowned International World Championship Bathtub Race. When you’re out on a walk make sure to keep your eyes out for a statute of Ney wearing his favourite pirate ensemble located at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon. (from the collection of the Nanaimo Archives)

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