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Heritage Register

About the Community Heritage Register

In 1994, the Province of BC passed legislation to allow local governments to better integrate heritage conservation activities into the mainstream of development and community planning. The legislation gave municipalities new tools and more powerful incentives to encourage conservation. One of the key planning tools was the “Community Heritage Register”. The idea behind the register was that if a community identified it's most significant heritage properties, it could better target its conservation efforts. In 2002, the City of Nanaimo created a Community Heritage Register. The Community Heritage Register is an official list of properties identified by the City of Nanaimo as having heritage value. Updates are made to the register periodically to add newly recognized buildings, structures and sites; and in some cases to remove buildings that have been destroyed through fire, neglect or demolition.  The purpose of the Community Heritage Register is to:

  • officially list heritage resources of Nanaimo;
  • give notice to property owners, and potential buyers) of heritage factors (e.g. architectural, cultural, aesthetic) which may affect development options for a listed property; and
  • enable monitoring of proposed changes to properties through the local government heritage alteration and building permit process.

Inclusion of a property on the Community Heritage Register does not itself constitute permanent heritage protection. The register may, however, be used to ‘flag' properties for possible future protection. Buildings on the register can take advantage of special “equivalency” provisions contained in the BC Building Code Heritage Building Supplement and can be used as a criterion for municipal grants (such as the Heritage Facade Grant and Heritage Home Grant programs), property tax exemptions, and non-monetary incentives (such as land use regulations relaxation and development bonuses).

Building Details
Name The Bastion
Address: 98 Front Street
Architectural Style: Pioneer
Building Use: Institutional
Year of Construction: 1853
Builder or Architect: Hudson's Bay Company
Protected Heritage Property: Yes

Heritage Value Statement
Nanaimo’s oldest building and the sole reminder of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s singular coal mining venture, the Bastion is the physical evidence of the community’s earliest European social and economic development.

The Bastion, built between 1853-1855, is the only known remaining freestanding tower structure built by the Hudson’s Bay Company. As such, it is a unique example of a defense fortification built by a company that played a major role in Canadian history.

The Bastion’s unusual octagonal shape and high visibility from both land and sea make it Nanaimo’s premier landmark.

The Bastion represents British Columbia’s earliest case of historic preservation and is an important example of the changing approaches to heritage conservation. It originally stood on the other side of Front Street, and was moved in 1891 after its original site was sold. In 1974, it was moved to its present location in another preservation effort. The building’s environmental context, overlooking the harbour, has never changed.

During the settlement’s early history, the Bastion represented a beacon of civilization in the wilderness, and provided the focus for social and economic growth in the new community. Now used as a museum, it has been a continuous part of Nanaimo’s history, and remains a source of pride to the city. The Bastion is a municipally designated heritage site, and is listed on the Canadian Register of Heritage Properties.

Behind the Bastion a flight of steps leads down to the spot where the “Princess Royal Pioneers” landed in 1854 after a six month’s voyage around Cape Horn. The site is marked by a cairn and plaque on Pioneer Rock.

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