With the slogan The Harbour City, it’s no surprise that Nanaimo’s downtown harbour is an important part of the city and its diverse history. And at the centre of the harbour is one of the most iconic relics: The Bastion. Rising three stories above the water, this wooden, octagonal-framed Bastion proudly stands guard over Nanaimo’s harbour.
Arguably Nanaimo’s most famous structure, it’s also one of the oldest. Built in 1853, the Bastion was constructed by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a defence outpost so they could protect their lucrative coal mining interests in the area. The first floor was used for the HBC’s sales and trade operations, while the second floor housed cannons and storage for firearms and gunpowder.
Although it was built with wood materials and basic hand tools, the Bastion still stands more than 150 years later as the last remaining structure of its kind in North America, even surviving two moves and a restoration.
Today, the Bastion has become a popular tourist destination for the city and a municipal heritage site. In summer months, visitors can explore the building and grounds with in-costume interpreters on-site and a daily cannon firing at noon. Check out nanaimomuseum.ca to plan your trip to the Bastion for a look into Nanaimo’s unique past. (From the Nanaimo Archives)