Permanent Exhibits

The Bastion Era

The Bastion Era takes a look at the most famous building in Nanaimo that was built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1853. The exhibit also features the arrival of the Princess Royal with the Staffordshire miners and their families on board.

The Bastion: The Hudson’s Bay Company outpost was built in 1853 and remained under their ownership until 1862. Originally standing on the other side of Front Street, the building was moved in 1891 and again in 1974 in efforts to preserve the structure.

The Bastion cannons currently housed on the Pioneer Waterfront Plaza were cast by the English Foundry, Bailey Pegg & Company in 1823 using the Blomefield Pattern design. The Blomefield Pattern Cannon was developed c.1790 by Thomas Blomefield who utilized a system of scales and proportions based on the caliber of the cannon. Our cannons fired six pound shots. The cannons were already obsolete when they made their way to Nanaimo to be used at the Bastion as defensive weapons in 1853.

The Bastion is open daily from the May long weekend through to Labour Day weekend in September, and has a limited schedule in the fall. A cannon firing ceremony is held every day at noon throughout the summer season. More information is available here.

The Princess Royal: In November 1854, the barque Princess Royal arrived from England bringing 24 miners and their families to Vancouver Island. Under contract to the Hudson’s Bay Company, they lived and worked in the community around the Bastion that was known as Colvile until around 1860 when it was renamed Nanaimo.

Every November, descendants of the families return to the Bastion for a celebration of their ancestors’ arrival. Roll call is announced and memories are shared. Some of the original artifacts from this voyage are now part of the Nanaimo Museum’s collection.

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