Various snippets and stories from Nanaimo's amazing (and little-known-about) history.

It was this day in 1958 that the "Italian Centennial Fountain" was unveiled in downtown Nanaimo. 

Colour photo of Nanaimo's Italian Centennial Fountain from a 1958 postcard

A lot of people are underwhelmed by this sculpture - probably because of its location, which does nothing whatsoever to highlight the fountain's beauty. Moreover, the fountain has been fenced off with ugly temporary fencing in recent years, presumably because of vandalization and sanitary concerns related to people without homes.

But really, especially when you consider that this was done on a small budget, mostly by volunteers, and that the granite blocks were mined from a boulder that was left in Yellow Point by a glacier - it's a pretty cool installation. Its story involves a local couple who came back from a vacation in Italy - they…

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In 2009 this old building was demolished at the corner of Milton St and Hecate St in Nanaimo's Old City/Nob Hill area. It was built in the 1940s or earlier (if someone knows when it was built, please comment below).

Egg Pool, aka granary, aka farmer's co-op - Nanaimo historical buildings

I took a bunch of photos before/during demolition because it was a fascinating building, very creepy in its latter days, and built with huge old-growth timbers considered almost priceless nowadays. In fact, some of the beams from this building were cut into veneer panels to be used in a high-end resort in Australia; the old copper nails had caused "blooms" of colour throughout the wood (not pictured here unfortunately).

I posted a photo on Facebook some years ago, and someone said they used wood from this building in a home they…

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It was announced by Infrastructure Canada that their "Smart Cities Challenge" is offering money to municipalities who have ideas for applying technological solutions to city issues. The City of Nanaimo requested submissions from citizens, in a bid to get the best ideas so that we can get the funding!

Here was my submission (below), proposing an app that allows pedestrians downtown to interact with the HISTORIC space around them. It is framed in the ministry's requested format: presenting an issue and proposing a technological solution.

=begin=

St Andrews Church, Nanaimo, past and present from the same vantage

The City of Nanaimo faces an issue when it comes to perception from tourists and from many of the city’s own citizens. Although the historic downtown core has popular oceanfront parks and boutique…

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I'm a metal detectorist, which means I look for metal objects of value or interest in the dirt, up to 10 inches deep.

There's this vacant lot in an historic part of South Nanaimo, where these houses were torn down sometime around 2015:

South Nanaimo derelict homes

In the winter of 2015/2016, I found some cool stuff in the vacant lot, using my metal detector. Here are some of the most interesting things I found:

1862 penny from England

This baby isn't in good shape, so it has no monetary value. But it's SO cool to try to imagine who dropped this coin, and when, and under what circumstances. By the way, the figure shows Britannia seated and holding a trident - very appropriate for the time!

1900 US Indian Head penny

I love these coins, for some reason. I think…

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If you live in Nanaimo and haven't heard this story...

1910:
The scene: An explosives factory above the shore of Departure Bay, at the bottom of today's Cilaire neighbourhood. (Cilaire is named for the last powder works to occupy the space.)

What happened: An explosion ripped the place apart. It was so powerful that it wrapped a rail around a tree - here's a photo:

Rail wrapped around tree trunk

That explosion also killed five men. Three kilometers away, the people of Nanaimo thought there had been another disaster in the mines underground.

1913:

Jan01: A new four-sided clock, Nanaimo's pride and joy, is set in motion for the first time on the (already old) sandstone post office overlooking the harbour on Front St.
Here's a photo of that post office (I freaking love…

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