Do you have an interest in local history? Did your grandparents live in the city and you want to learn more about their lives? Are you a researcher working on a historically themed project? Then the place for you is the Nanaimo Community Archives (NCA).
Located at 60 Wharf Street (lower level) in the CIBC Arts Centre in the city’s downtown core, the NCA is quite literally a treasure trove of documents, photographs, audio recordings and other pertinent information detailing the day to day history of the City of Nanaimo and its immediate area. A not for profit organization established in 1991 the Nanaimo Community Archives is the official repository of a vast range of historic information.
The NCA maintains and preserves archival records of a diverse group of local organizations and bodies. On hand are records related to the City of Nanaimo, the Nanaimo District Museum (which is located within the nearby Vancouver Island Conference Centre) and of the Nanaimo Historical Society – another non-profit group that has been collecting and preserving local history since 1953.
The expansive collection of the Nanaimo Community Archives includes the records and documentation of local service clubs, community organizations and fraternal clubs. In addition the NCA is also the depository of a wealth of donated documents and memorabilia from many local families and individuals – adding that personal flavor to the collection.
With origins dating back to the middle of the 19th Century, the City of Nanaimo has grown from a rough and tumble coal mining town into the centre of commerce and education is has become today. Documenting that evolution is one of the primary roles of a dedicated entity such as the Nanaimo Community Archives. The NCA collection includes a wealth of audio recordings, an irreplaceable assemblage of preserved memories from the people who helped to build the city, in their own words.
The Archives also contains a vast assortment of documents related to the city’s pioneer days, specifically related to its founding and operation by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Prized in the NCA collection are a series of letters and journals penned by Joseph William McKay, a one-time fur trader, businessman, politician and explorer who had a long career in the employ of the HBC, and is someone credited with establishing much of early Nanaimo’s structure.
For those visiting the Archives, while personal research can be conducted free of charge, there will be a fee if Archive staff members are asked to carry out research on their behalf. There are also fees for photocopying (color and black and white), scans to disk as well as print charges if photographs are to be reproduced. Check with the Archive staff for the current price list.
A resource and a treasure of local information, the Nanaimo Community Archives is the place to be if local history is your thing. The NCA states it well on its website: “These records document ordinary and extraordinary people and the events that allow us to establish a sense of community, of family, and of particular times and places. They are, in essence, the actual evidence of how we have lived.”
To learn more about the Nanaimo Community Archives please take a moment and visit its website at: www.nanaimoarchives.ca