Hub City: Nanaimo, 1886–1920


288 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-894384-66-0
DDC 971.1'2




Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is the financial and budget manager of the University of
British Columbia Library.


This second volume of award-winning writer Jan Peterson’s trilogy on
the history of Nanaimo, B.C., continues the story from the end of the
Victorian era to the end of World War I. The completion of the E & N
Railway in 1886 was a key event for Nanaimo because it connected the
mid-island population centre with the communities to the south,
including the B.C. capital, Victoria. This link, plus the regular ferry
service between Nanaimo and Vancouver and to points up-island,
established Nanaimo as the transportation hub of the island. Its
coal-mining activity had already established it as an industrial centre.
Like the first volume of the trilogy, Black Diamond City, Hub City is
packed with detail gleaned from the government records, publications,
and personal papers of the time, and liberally illustrated with
historical photographs. It is Peterson’s writing style and interest in
the personal lives of the citizens that transforms the bare facts into a
lively tale of successes and tragedies. Five appendixes list mayors and
councils, provincial and federal representatives, mining deaths, those
killed in action 1914–18, and coal companies and their mines. Because
of Nanaimo’s prominence in the early development of British Columbia,
this is not only a solid work of local history but also a contribution
to the history of the province.


Peterson, Jan., “Hub City: Nanaimo, 1886–1920,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,