Nanaimo (Canada 2011 Census population 83,810) is a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It has been dubbed the "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World" and "Harbour City". Nanaimo was also dubbed early in its history by the Vancouver Island Development League as the "Hub City" because of its central location on Vancouver Island. It is also fondly known as the "Hub, Tub, and Pub City" because of its association with the bathtub racing and the numerous "watering holes" in Old Nanaimo. It is the location of the headquarters of the Regional District of Nanaimo.
Nanaimo began as a trading post in the early 19th century; in 1849 the Snuneymuxw chief Ki-et-sa-kun ("Coal Tyee") informed the Hudson's Bay Company of the presence of coal in the area, and in 1853 the company built a fort known as the Nanaimo Bastion (still preserved). Subsequently the town was chiefly known for the export of coal.
The gassy qualities of the coal which made it valuable also made it dangerous. The 1887 Nanaimo Mine Explosion killed 150 miners and was described as the largest man-made explosion until the Halifax Explosion. Another 100 men died in another explosion the next year. In the 1940s, lumber supplanted coal as the main business although Minetown Days are still celebrated in the neighbouring community of Lantzville.
Nanaimo has had a succession of four distinct Chinatowns. The first, founded during the gold rush years of the 1860s, was the third largest in British Columbia. In 1884, because of mounting racial tensions related to the Dunsmuir coal company's hiring of Chinese strikebreakers, the company helped move Chinatown to a location outside city limits. In 1908, when two Chinese entrepreneurs bought the site and tried to raise rents, in response, and with the help of 4000 shareholders from across Canada, the community combined forces and bought the site for the third Chinatown at a new location, focused on Pine Street. That third Chinatown, by then mostly derelict, burned down on September 30, 1960. A fourth Chinatown, also called Lower Chinatown or "new town", boomed for a while in the 1920s on Machleary Street.