1882 Nanaimo Directory

Nanaimo - General Progress

The City was incorporated in 1874 and the census returns fo 1881 represents a total population of 2863 (including the surrounding country); this number is being continually increased by new arrivals, and the opening of new coal fields in the district will considerably augment the population at no distant date. During the last few years Nanaimo has made great progress, and there is no reason why it should not become a manufacturing city, as there are already various industries carried on.


The workings of the Vancouver Coal Company at and near Nanaimo comprise: Douglas Pit, situated in the City; No. 1 Shaft, Esplanade, Nanaimo; New Douglas Mine, near Chase River; South Field Mine, south of Chase River; and the Fitzwilliam Mine on Newcastle Island.

The Douglas Seam of Coal is very extensive. It is at present worked at Nanaimo, in the Douglas Pit towards the Outcrop and by extraction of pillars, &c., while coal is being mined in a continuation of the same seam at the New Douglas Mine at Chase River, a distance of a mile and a half South of town. The Douglas seam is proved westwards to the dip, and is traceable through Protection and Newcastle Islands, forming a vast field of the famous Douglas coal for future operations. The Number 1 Shaft of 18 feet diameter is being put down on the Esplanade, where the Diamond Drill proved the seam to be 10 feet in thickness of good hard coal. From this shaft or pit the Douglas seam can be worked throughout its area, and it is expected that the ouput from No. 1 shaft will commence in the winter of 1882-83. The Douglas coal is of excellent quality for house, steam and gas-making purposes. It yields over 10,000 cubic feet of gas per ton; has an illuminating power of 16 candles, and produces good coke. An analysis exhibits high percentages of carbon and volatile matter with only a moderate propoportion of ash. The Douglas mines are worked by slope with powerful winding engines, capable of hoisting 500 tons per diem. At the No. 1 shaft a pair of 30 inch horizontal winding engines 5 feet stroke, with winding drum 14 feet diameter, with steam brake and pumping gear, will be erected, having a capacity of hoisting 1000 tons per shift of 8 hours. Safety hooks or brakes will be attached to the cages and every precaution will be adopted for preventing accidents. A railway has already been constructed of steel rails flange section, 56 lbs. per yard, along the Esplanade from No. 1 shaft to the wharves, so that no delay will occur in placing the output on board ship.

The Chase River railway of 4 feet 8 inches gauge of steel reversible rails weighing 52 lbs. per yard, substantially contructed, connects New Douglas Mine with the Douglas line to Nanaimo shipping wharves. The Company have 3 locomotives and a complement of Hopper coal cars, for transporting coal to the seaboard. At their wharves the cars containing over 5 tons each are placed over a shute leading to a vessel's hatch, the door in the bottom of the car is opened and the coal deposited in the hold. The shutes are raised and lowered to suit the tides. When the shute is low the cars are let down by a brake pulley and brought up by a back balance. The Company have facilities for loading and shipping 1000 tons per day.

The South Field Seam. - In the portion of the Company's estate lying to the South of Chase River, known as the South field, a large area of coal land has been proved by Diamond Drill boring, in different places; prospecting shafts have been sunk from which drifts have been carried to the face of the coal, and the seam explored. The Company are now opening a new mine at their South Field. A heading is being driven into the seam through coal of superior quality, 8 feet thick, having a gentle pitch, and it is in contemplation to sink the necessary shafts for thoroughly developing and workin the South Field Seam. The South Field railway to connect the new mine with the Chase River railway is being rapidly constructed and on completion will form a line running about 3 1/2 miles south from Nanaimo. Arrangements are being made for exporting coal from the South Field Mine at an early date.

The West and North Coal Fields, on the Company's estate, are believed to contain coal similar to that portion of the Nanaimo coal field known as Wellington and a search for it with the Diamond Drill will shortly be instituted.

Machine Shops. - The Vancouver Coal Co.'s machine shops are well provided with machinery for engine work. The large lathe is probably the finest in the province. The steam hammer and other labor saving appliances are worthy of inspection and notice.

The Vancouver Coal Co. employs 325 persons, of whom about 60 are Chinese and Indians. The average rate of wages for whites is from $2 to $3.75 per day; Chinese, $1 to $1.25 per day; Indians, $1 to $1.50 per day; miner's earnings are from $2.50 to $5.00 per day. As the works are extended, however, a large number of additional hands will find employment.

The output of coal from the Vancouver Coal Co.'s works during the past four years, viz. 1878, 1879, 1880 and 1881, according to returns made to the Government, amount to an aggregate of no less than 311,465 tons.


The Mill Stream Saw Mills. C. Carpenter, proprietor, which will when worked by the combined forces of steam and water turn out 45 thousand feet of lumber per day. In connection with the mill is a logging camp, situated at Nanaimo river, and another saw mill and logging camp seven miles further up the Millstream was established for the convenience of the Wellington Colliery; 60 men find employment in Carpenter's mills.

Ship Building — The facilities for ship building at Nanaimo are manifest, and indeed as far back as 1859 Dr. Benson (a former resident) built a fair sized schooner, the Alpha, upon the site of the present ship yard. Of late, C. Carpenter has embarked in ship building in all its branches, and has this year successfully built and launched a very fine vessel.

The Nanaimo Brewery — J. Mahrer, proprietor, is located in Mill street, and was established in 1879. Its capacity is 30,000 gallons per year, and the beer brewed by Mr. Mahrer is said to compare favorably with any in the province.

Soda Water Works — where various other temperance drinks are manufactured, is carried on by J. Mitchell, at the West end of Bastion street bridge.

Furniture manufacturing — by J. Hilbert, Bastion street.

Blacksmithing — by Renwick & Horne, Bastion street, and J. Holden, Bastion street bridge.

Boot and Shoe Manufacturing — by John Whitfield, Victoria Cresent; James Abrams, Commerical street; J. P. Jackson, Victoria Cresent; and Messrs. Davis and Elliott.

A small tannery has been carried on by J. Abrams, which is located on the banks of the Millstream, and it is expected that ere long a company will be formed for the development of this industry and also for the manufacturing of boots and shoes, which will doubtless prove remunerative here as elsewhere.

Water Works — J. W. Stirtan is at present engaged in the construction of wooden pipes to be used in the new water works, the first real attempt made in Nanaimo to provide the city with a regular supply of water. The springs which are to yield the needed supply are located upon the rising ground near the Methodist parsonage.

Boats — There is as yet no establishment for the hiring or building of boats, an industry which might, if well-conducted, prove profitable.

Ferry. A steam ferry connects the city with Departure Bay, and runs to and fro twice a day.

The Nanaimo Free Press, established in 1874 by its present enterprising editor and proprietor, George Norris, is a semi weekly, ably conducted, independent and impartial in its treatment of public matters. Connected with the establishment is a well appointed job office, where the local demand for printing is met with ability and dispatch.


The hotels in Nanaimo which afford accommodation to the travelling public are quite large and numerous, among which are the Old Flag Inn, by J. E. Jenkins, Bastion street; the Royal, by Richard Watkins, Commercial street; the Miners' Exchange, by Joseph Webb, Commercial street; the Temperance, by Mrs. J. K. Gilbert, Bastion street; Nanaimo Hotel, by Mrs. E. Gough, Commercial street; the Provincial, by J. W. Brunton, Victoria Cresent; the Commercial, by Sabiston and Wilcox, cor Bastion and Commercial st; the Identical, by N. Smith, Victoria Cresent; the Dew Drop, by George Baker, Haliburton street; and the New Castle, by A. P. Smith, Wellington road.

There are also many large and well furnished stores of various kinds where every commodity in general use may be obtained.

Williams' British Columbia Directory, (1882), pp. 155-157.