Moving To / From Nanaimo
The Coast Salish First Nation was the region's first inhabitants. The word Nanaimo is derived from the Salish word “Sney-Ny-Mais” meaning “meeting place”. The Spanish explorers, Galiano and Valdes, arrived in the area during the 1790s.
The Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post in 1849, but the discovery of coal in 1852 led to permanent settlement. In 1862, the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Co. bought out the HBC Mines and expanded operations. Completion of the Esquimalt to Nanaimo Railway in 1886 spurred development. The city grew with its increasing coal output. Production from the 3 main seams in the area reached its peak in 1923 when over 1 million tonnes were mined. Once the easily accessible coal was mined, it became increasingly dangerous and expensive to extract the fuel and by the early 1950s the city turned to forest products to support the economy.
Nanaimo was incorporated in 1874 when it had a population of only 1,500.
Today, with its beautiful natural setting, mild climate and numerous beaches, parks and nearby camping sites, Nanaimo is an important tourist centre. Rich agricultural land and abundant timber resources surround Nanaimo. Its excellent deep harbour, the only all purpose port city on Vancouver Island, has made it an important distribution and regional centre. It is also the axis of several transportation routes: the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway; the Trans-Canada and Island highways; and ferry services to and from the mainland.
Nanaimo is the birthplace of the Nanaimo Bar, an amazing dessert made with chocolate, graham wafers and vanilla cream.
The City of Nanaimo is situated on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo is located on the Trans Canada Highway, approximately 112 km north of Victoria and 60 km northwest of Vancouver, across the Strait of Georgia. The Regional District of Nanaimo includes the Greater Nanaimo area, plus the towns of Parksville and Qualicum.
The population of the Greater Nanaimo area numbers approximately 80,949.
For more information about Nanaimo:
City of Nanaimo
455 Wallace St.
Nanaimo has an average July temperature of 18.3°C and an average January temperature of 5.3°C. The average annual precipitation is 158 mm.
For daily or historical weather conditions, visit:https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca
One of the best ways to learn about your new community is to subscribe to the local newspaper:
Nanaimo News Bulletin
For information regarding curriculum and enrolment procedures, please contact:
School District #68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith)
395 Wakesiah Ave.
Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (School District 93)
180-10200 Shellbridge Way
Additional educational institutes:
Vancouver Island University
Nanaimo Regional General Hospital
1200 Dufferin Cres.
Motor Vehicle & Driver Licencing
Nanaimo Regional Transit System
BC Ferry Corp
For more information about transportation in Nanaimo, visit:
Parks, Recreation and Culture
Harbourfront Branch Library
Nanaimo Wellington Library
For information about upcoming events in Nanaimo, visit: https://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/municipalities?id=78
Parks, Recreation and Culture
Nanaimo Golf Club
Nanaimo is host to numerous annual festivities including the Bathtub Race across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver in motor-powered bathtubs, Canada Day Celebrations and the Dragon Boat Festival in July, Vancouver Island Exhibition in August and the Festival of Trees from November to December.
Downtown Farmers Market
Held on Fridays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm during the months of May to October, in the downtown area, vendors include fresh produce, baked goods and crafts.
Nanaimo District Museum
A journey back in time to the beginnings of Nanaimo, including First Nations artifact and crafts.
Nanaimo Art Gallery
This gallery has two locations and exhibits works from local, regional and national artists.
Parks and Trails
Nanaimo offers 588 hectares of city operated parks and 100 km of walking and biking trails.
To find a grocery store in the Nanaimo area, visit:
Save on Foods
102-6631 Island Hwy N.
Nanaimo North Town Centre
4750 Rutherford Rd.
To find a movie theatre near you, visit:
To find local restaurants, visit:
For information about bars and nightclubs, visit:
Call at 1-888-708-7700 to order the following brochures:
Protecting your goods in transit
Handling dangerous goods
Do-it-yourself packing guide