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Nanaimo City Hall

455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia, V9R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2002/10/07

Exterior of Nanaimo City Hall, 2004; City of Nanaimo, Christine Meutzner, 2004
Front elevation
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/07/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Nanaimo City Hall is a two-story, International style building located in the downtown core. The historic place comprises the building, gardens and roadway.

Heritage Value

From incorporation in 1874 to the completion of this building in 1951, civic business was conducted from a succession of inferior buildings inherited from other organizations. The purpose-built City Hall represents the maturation and modernization of the municipal government and, by extension, the City as a whole.

Built in 1951, City Hall is an excellent example of and Nanaimo's first venture into the International style. Designed to project progress and modernity, the historic International style was the appropriate choice for a municipality striving to overcome its image as a dirty, depressed coal town and present itself as a forward looking city. A sympathetic 1970 addition on the north side respects the original building's architectural integrity. The exterior and interior are largely intact.

City Hall is significant because of its association with architect Thomas B. McArravy. One of the pioneers of the use of modernism on Vancouver Island, McArravy was Nanaimo's most prominent architect for many years. City Hall has survived in near pristine condition, a testament to the integrity of the original design and McArravy's skill.

The gardens at the side and front of City Hill were designed at the same time as the building and are integral parts of the site's value. Situated on a high rocky outcropping, the extensively landscaped grounds soften the rigid formality of the building's architecture. The winding roadway that leads to the front entry provides a welcoming entrance, appropriate to a public building.

Source: City of Nanaimo, Development Services Department, file #6800-20-H01-02/455 Wallace Street

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of City Hall include:

-All of the elements of the International style as expressed in the building's exterior including the clean horizontal form and plain detailing, exposed concrete structure and cladding, incised shadow banding between the windows, thin profile, steel sash windows, copper lights at front entrance, granite plinth and steps and flat roof with raised parapet.

-All of the elements of the International style as expressed in the building's interior including the original imported French marble on the walls in the entry hall and main stairways, terrazzo floors, and satin walnut and Paldoa wood paneling.

-The spatial configuration of the building, gardens and roadway

-The location of the building on a high, rocky outcrop within a grouping of historic buildings.



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1970/01/01 to 1970/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Town or City Hall

Architect / Designer

Thomas McArravy



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Nanaimo, Development Services Department, file #6800-20-H01-02/455 Wallace Street See also: Nanaimo Community Archives Building Plans and Photograph Collections

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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