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Canada's First World War Internment Operations

Nanaimo

A City Built on Coal


Home to the Snuneymuxw First Nations for thousands of years, the place now known as Nanaimo was one of the first places in British Columbia to see substantial European settlement. In the 1850s the Hudson's Bay Company, and later the provincial government, encouraged miners to settle in Nanaimo who could work the area's vast coal reserves. By the late 1800s Nanaimo had grown into a bustling harbour city, providing coal for ships stopping off in B.C As mining wound down in the 1940s, Nanaimo became a hub for forestry and government services. Today Nanaimo is being reborn as a cultural centre that has preserved its rich architectural and cultural heritage.

This project is possible with the generous support of Tourism Nanaimo and the Nanaimo Hospitality Association. We would also like to thank the Nanaimo Archives and Nanaimo Museum for use of their historic photo collections and providing research assistance.

We acknowledge that Nanaimo is on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

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Nanaimo's WWI Internment Camp


Near this spot, just by the intersection of Stewart Ave and Townsite Road, there was an internment camp during the First World War. It was located in the old provincial jail building that is no longer extant, and opened on September 20, 1914. Those incarcerated were called 'enemy aliens', that is people living in Canada originating from Germany and Austria-Hungary. While the government claimed they were imprisoned to protect national security, in most cases people were interned for reasons that were either completely arbitrary or jealously cynical. A barbed wire fence some 14-feet tall was erected around the jail building. Guards were billeted at the nearby Agricultural Hall and oversaw the internees as they were put to work planting trees around downtown Nanaimo. Ultimately over 100 internees were kept here, including some of the wives and children of the male internees. The camp stayed open until September 1915, when it was closed and its prisoners transferred to the primary internment camp in Vernon in the province's interior.






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Nanaimo


Then and Now Photos

Andersons


Andersons Andersons
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Nanaimo Museum C3-129

1940s

Andersons clothing outlet on Victoria Crescent.

Candian Bank of Commerce


Candian Bank of Commerce Candian Bank of Commerce
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Nanaimo Museum B1-5

1920s

Looking up Church Street. At left is the classical style Canadian Bank of Commerce which survives to this day.

Television Shop


Television Shop Television Shop
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Nanaimo Museum C3-144

1950s

Businesses selling televisions and oil burning heaters were once located in this business block.

Buggies on Church


Buggies on Church Buggies on Church
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Nanaimo Community Archives 2004 037 A-P2

1910

Horse-drawn buggies on a busy Church Street. Notice the Hotel Windsor in the back and the photography business on the right.

Vanished Businesses


Vanished Businesses Vanished Businesses
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Nanaimo Museum B1-20

1950s

This photo gives a good impression of the businesses that once existed on the east side of Commercial Street including Woolworth's department store (the two storey building on the corner) and the white Strand Theatre behind it.

Cruiser in Harbour


Cruiser in Harbour Cruiser in Harbour
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Nanaimo Museum H1-54

1920s

A Royal Canadian Navy cruiser is moored in Nanaimo harbour, probably the HMCS Uganda.

Quiet Church Street


Quiet Church Street Quiet Church Street
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Nanaimo Museum B1-2

1890s

A couple men stand on an otherwise empty Church Street.

Looking Down Albert


Looking Down Albert Looking Down Albert
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Nanaimo Community Archives 2008 011 A-P1

1870

An early photograph taken from partyway up Albert Street, showing Nanaimo's harbour. A schooner has pulled up to the wharf on Cameron Island to take on coal. Protection Island can be seen in the distance.

The Nanaimo Foundry


The Nanaimo Foundry The Nanaimo Foundry
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Nanaimo Community Archives 1994 025 A-P46

1910

Smoke curls up from the Nanaimo Foundry, located in today's Maffeo Sutton Park. At left just above the buildings can be seen Stewart Ave, now part of the TransCanada Highway. At far right Newcastle Island is also visible.

Fred W. Fielder


Fred W. Fielder Fred W. Fielder
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Nanaimo Museum B1-37

1920s

Fred W. Fielder's clothing store once occupied this building on the corner of Skinner and Commercial.

Commercial Inlet Wharf


Commercial Inlet Wharf Commercial Inlet Wharf
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Nanaimo Community Archives 2013 010 A-P23

1910

A view up Commercial Inlet showing the Bastion at right, and the wharves at centre.

The SS Joan


The SS Joan The SS Joan
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Vancouver Archives SGN 853

1898

Canadian Pacific Navigation's little steamer SS Joan at the ferry terminal that once stood here. The Joan was involved in a dramatic collision with the Union Steamship Company's competing ferry City of Nanaimo which is recounted in the Waterfront tour.

Johnston's Wharf


Johnston's Wharf Johnston's Wharf
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Vancouver Archives Out P522.1

1890s

Ships moored at Johnston's Wharf. This was the sight of the first coal wharf built by Robert Dunsmuir, before being replaced with this smaller ferry terminal, then turned into a fishing dock, and finally a place for pleasure boats to dock.

Hotel Malaspina Quarter-View


Hotel Malaspina Quarter-View Hotel Malaspina Quarter-View
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Nanaimo Museum C3-164

1950s

Photo of the old Hotel Malaspina. At right you can also see part of the new Federal Building.

Early Terminal Ave


Early Terminal Ave Early Terminal Ave
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Nanaimo Museum A1-76

1940s

Looking towards Victoria Crescent from where the Casino is today.

Nanaimo Realty


Nanaimo Realty Nanaimo Realty
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Nanaimo Museum C3-173

1950s

The offices of Nanaimo Realty on Church Street.

Bank of Nova Scotia


Bank of Nova Scotia Bank of Nova Scotia
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Nanaimo Museum C3-138

1950s

The Bank of Nova Scotia which, rebranded as Scotiabank, continues to occupy this building today.

Orpheum Theatre


Orpheum Theatre Orpheum Theatre
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Nanaimo Museum B1-9

1920s

The Orpheum Theatre on Commercial Street.

Old Flag Inn


Old Flag Inn Old Flag Inn
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Nanaimo Museum C3-70

1890s

An old man and his dog stand outside the Old Flag Inn, a well known drinking spot in Nanaimo once located across the street from the old city hall at the intersection of Bastion and Skinner Streets.

A Passing Ferry


A Passing Ferry A Passing Ferry
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Nanaimo Museum H1-17

1930s

Seen through the trees, a Canadian Pacific ferry-liner steams south past Cameron Island.

The Railyard


The Railyard The Railyard
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RBC Museum F-06413

1945

The railyard at the forestry terminal by Cameron Island.

Powers & Doyle


Powers & Doyle Powers & Doyle
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Nanaimo Museum B1-38

1890s

A buggy is parked in front of Powers and Doyles' clothing store. This whole block was destroyed in a fire in the 1920s.

Sunset on Fitzwilliam


Sunset on Fitzwilliam Sunset on Fitzwilliam
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Nanaimo Museum B1-59

1910s

A car drives down Fitzwilliam Street at dusk.

Train at the Station


Train at the Station Train at the Station
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RBC Museum F-06388

1927

A 4-6-0 class train, meaning four front wheels, six main drive wheels and zero trailing wheels, parked at the E&N railway station.

Newcastle from Knob Hill


Newcastle from Knob Hill Newcastle from Knob Hill
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Nanaimo Museum A1-47

1880s

A view of downtown Nanaimo and Newcastle Island from a freshly planted stand of trees on Knob Hill.

Newcastle and Protection


Newcastle and Protection Newcastle and Protection
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RBC Museum F-04495

1860s

Newcastle and Protection Islands seen from around today's Maffeo Sutton Park.

Ferries at Dock


Ferries at Dock Ferries at Dock
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RBC Museum B-04718

1900

Two steamers, the SS Joan and the City of Nanaimo, docked beneath the Bastion.

VW Beetle


VW Beetle VW Beetle
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Nanaimo Museum B1-53

1980s

A Volkswagen Beetle drives up Bastion Street.

Cannons on Front St.


Cannons on Front St. Cannons on Front St.
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Nanaimo Museum C3-212

1900s

Looking down Front Street, this photo shows the Bastion at left, the Hotel Windsor at right, and several cannons from the Bastion on display at bottom right.


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