Nanaimo Public Cemetery
555 Bowen Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia, V9R, Canada
Bowen Road Cemetery
Nanaimo Public Cemetery
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Nanaimo Public Cemetery is a large, municipal cemetery located on a main road just outside the downtown core and overlooking the harbour. The historic place is confined to the legal boundaries of the cemetery.
Established in 1877 when the city's first cemetery became full, the Nanaimo Public Cemetery is important as a highly visible, tangible link with Nanaimo's past. The modest early grave markers reflect Nanaimo's predominantly working-class population while more elaborate monuments provide the names and tastes of the city's wealthier citizens. Most representative of Nanaimo's history are the many inscriptions about mine accidents, testimony to the over 600 mine-related deaths that occurred in the area from the 1860s to the 1950s. Still in active use, the Nanaimo Public Cemetery functions as a fully accessible outdoor history museum.
The Nanaimo Public Cemetery exemplifies the role the local coal company played in the development of the City. In addition to numerous park, school and church sites, the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company also donated the land for this cemetery. Because the company owned all the land in the area, the community was highly dependent on company largesse for the acquisition of public land. The company was, in turn, dependant on community goodwill to ensure economic stability. As such, the site testifies to the long-standing symbiotic relationship between the coal company and the community.
Sited on a large acreage at the crest of a hill and on a main thoroughfare, the Nanaimo Public Cemetery is a highly visible landmark.
Source: City of Nanaimo, Development Services Department
The character-defining elements of the Nanaimo Public Cemetery include:
- all of the headstones, monuments and grave markers
- the location on a main road
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Nanaimo, Development Services Department
Cross-Reference to Collection