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Old City Quarter Heritage Walk

Everything changed in 1886 when the railway came to town. It was the same year as the Occidental Hotel was built and signaled the beginning of a growth that reached a fever pitch in the roaring 20's. Many came to work in the mines, forest or fishing industries and the city welcomed each and every one of them.

The Old City Quarter harbours some fine examples of these past times like St. Andrews United Church (currently undergoing steeple repairs) which has served the community since 1893.

In a moment of 'whaaaat?' I found that in 1910 the first apartment block came to the Old City Quarter! Do you think the trend will catch on? 

In 1916 an Edwardian building across the street from the Occidental Hotel was designed by E. J. Bresemann. He took great care to mirror the angled front doors of the Occidental on his building (the Rawlinson & Glaholm Grocers) creating a type of funnel to pour the masses arriving by train down past the city's new businesses.

Like back then it's a bit of a steep climb from downtown but well worth the trip across the Bastion Bridge. I always find it interesting that Terminal Avenue below the bridge was a tidal inlet! More about this in a later article. 

Once you cross the bridge you will see some brightly coloured buildings from 1920 called Boomtown structures because of the false fronts. Much like a movie set they were built to appear more than they actually were.  

Continue on your way up the street to rest in Fibber Magees with a beverage before wandering down to the shops in Fitzwilliam Mews. 

A little exercise, a little food and libation, some culture and a bit of  shopping along the way is definitely a recipe for one fine day. 

Back to Commercial Street Heritage Walk.

  1. Start: Rangers Shoes
    This commercial structure was built in 1920. 
  2. Angell's Trading
    This Heritage commercial shop was constructed in 1926 in the practical interwar style.
  3. Central Dairy Building
    Built in 1929, the Central Dairy Building is a good example of the type of simple, vernacular style of commercial buildings from that time.
  4. Occidental Hotel
    This Victorian Italiante style hotel was built in 1886.
  5. Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Station
    Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1920.
  6. Rawlinson & Glaholm Grocers
    Edwardian building constructed in 1916
  7. T & B Apartments
    This Apartment block was built in 1920 and is a fine example of a commercial building for its time. 
  8. Mitchell's Market
    Located in Nanaimo's oldest neighbourhood, this was originally Thomas B. Mitchell's market and meat shop circa 1922.
  9. S & W Apartments
    Nanaimo's first apartment block built in 1910 in the Edwardian Style 
  10. End: St. Andrews United Church
    This Late Victorian style church was built in 1893, and is still serving the community.