Nanaimo, the harbour city

Have you ever seen a Canadian Mounty up close and personal?  In this case it was not a Red Guy but a Red Girl.  Well, to be more precise, a Mounty Girl AND a Mounty Guy.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police provides federal policing service to all of Canada.  As we stepped onto the shores of Vancouver Island in British Columbia we had to go through customs.  Just outside the custom tent two Mounties were standing there waiting. 

Silly us, we thought they were there to pose with us for our photographs.  In hindsight, they were most likely there to police the borders!

But, I’ve gotten the cart before the horse.  For a variety of reasons, it is not always feasible to bring a cruise ship all the way in to port.  Nanaimo was such a port and we were transported to shore in tenders. 


Not only was the sea rough, the weather was cold and drizzling.  That being said, I would rather be in a tender for this purpose rather than its “other” one.  You do know that on cruise ships tenders do double duty, right?  They are also fully equipped to act as lifeboats……….in the event of……well, you get the picture.

Nanaimo, known as The Harbour City, is located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  It  boasts of having one of the prettiest waterfronts is Canada.  It was a very beautiful harbour!  

There were yachts, sailboats and even canoes! 

When I saw this old man rowing his canoe to who knows where, I remembered Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea novel.


In 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company was incorporated by a British royal charter.  It was at one time the largest landowner in the world.  For several centuries it controlled the fur trade throughout the part of North America under British control.  Trading posts were established all over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest.  The Bastion was a Hudson’s Bay Company guardpost established here in Nanimo.  This three story building was equipped with canon’s that never found occasion to be fired in its long history.

When the fur trade declined the Hudson’s Bay Company went into the mercantile business selling necessities to the settlers.  My Canadian traveling companions informed me that it still exists today in Canada as a department store.  Both of the couples we were with owned Hudson Bay Blankets — must be a Pacific Northwest thing. 


All over town shop proprietors, museums and historic churches handed out recipes for Nanaimo Bars.  These apparently are a favorite Canadian confection and Nanaimo claims to have started the recipe circulating back in the fifties.  As the story goes, a Nanaimo housewife sent in this recipe for a magazine bake-off and their popularity took off….all across Canada.  They look yummy but the recipe calls for ‘custard powder’ which I’ve never seen here in the states.  I’m wondering if you can substitute instant pudding?

I had told my new friends about the Traveling Memory Blanket and they helped me locate a yarn store in the old historic quarter of town.  Although they were not knitters, one had raised sheep and the other had a grandmother who knit for her.  I found some very pretty alpaca/silk blend in blue.   I fondled the yarn as we walked around town and at one point Fran grinned at me and said, “You just can’t wait to start knitting with that, can you?”

The sun came out before we took the tender back to the Celebrity Mercury.  We had just enough time to rest up (and cast-on) before we donned formal attire for dinner.

6 Comments on “Nanaimo, the harbour city

  1. what a wonderful trip! One I have wanted to do for many years — soon is coming.

    I think that you might find “custard powder” in any international isle (or with cake mixes or near the Jello) of a large grocery store. I buy it here in a small city in South Carolina. I don’t have any in the cabinet to get the particulars, but it is from the Netherlands or Germany and is yummy. I first ate it at a friend’s home in the Netherlands. Also I have used Jello Pudding in receipe calling for custard powder. Happy Eating!

  2. hmmm I’ve haven’t made nanaimo bars from scratch because they sell them in a box kit. Custard powder would be available at an store selling british imports food. Bird’s custard comes in a tin and its my fav, hope you can find some.
    Hudson’s Bay Company own quite a few stores now I believe they are called Hudson’s Bay Outfitters, they own the bay and zellers and a few more I think.
    We wanna see the next square!!!

  3. I always think it’s interesting when yarn shops are owned by people who aren’t knitters. It seems like the type of shop that would be owned by someone who has a real interest in the product.

  4. What is that white rope around the Mounties’ necks? Is that a noose in case the picture-happy tourists start getting to them?

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