Built in 1853 by the Hudson Bay Company, the Bastion was a fortification which housed a cannon to protect the harbour city of Nanaimo.
Nanaimo, the Harbour City, is British Columbia's third oldest city with its history dating back to 1850 with the discovery of high quality coal brought to Victoria by Snuneymuxw Chief Che-wich-i-kan (also known as Coal Tyee). Not long after, the Hudson Bay Company - an important driving force behind the settlement of British Columbia - established a colony on the shores of what is now Nanaimo and built a formidable Bastion armed with a cannon to defend the rich deposits of coal found in the region.
The Bastion's distinct octagonal shape, white facade and high visibility from land and sea makes the fortification Nanaimo's most iconic and recognizable landmark. The imposing three story fortification situated on the shores of Nanaimo was constructed in 1853 from hand hewn timbers and assembled without nails or cranes. The Bastion was moved for historic preservation reasons in both 1891 and 1979, and on December 12, 1985 it was officially designated a local heritage site. In 2010 the structure underwent major refurbishment as rotting boards were replaced and stabilizing steel beams were installed. In over a century of history the Bastion has been an important part of the community, functioning as a general store, jailhouse, armoury, information centre and museum. The Nanaimo Bastion is the oldest building in Nanaimo and the second oldest in the entire province. It is also recognized as the oldest freestanding Hudson Bay Company fort in all of North America.
From May Long Weekend to Labour Day the Bastion is open to the public for tours with costumed volunteers on hand to teach visitors about this unique landmark on the shores of Nanaimo. Visitors can also watch the daily ceremonial cannon firing at noon accompanied by a bagpiper at the the nineteenth century cannons which face the waterfront.
Operated in part by the Nanaimo Museum, the Bastion is an important historic landmark which welcomes visitors to the Harbour City. Don't miss the opportunity to visit Nanaimo's oldest building during the summer months when visitors can climb inside and step back into the mid-1800s when Vancouver Island's vast unexplored wildness and early pioneers were protected by this iconic Hudson Bay Company fortification and its cannon.
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