Sandra Larocque

Annual picnic recounts Nanaimo mining history

NANAIMO – Miners' Picnic takes place at Deverill Park on Saturday (June 18), beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Growing up in Nanaimo, Sandra Larocque can remember her father coming home from a long day of work in the coal mines.

Often Larocque’s father, like other miners including her grandfather, would return home with a lump of coal.

“They used to take coal home in their lunch kits,” Larocque said. “They would eat their lunch and bring a little stack of coal home to put in the furnace and heat the house for the night time.”

Although coal mines may be a thing of the past for region, the impact they had on Nanaimo and the community continues to this day.

“My family is Italian and there were a lot of Europeans that came over and [coal mining] was the only job they could get,” Larocque said.

Residents will be able to learn more about the city’s coal mining days on Saturday (June 18), when the South End Community Association hosts its annual Miner’s Picnic at Deverill Park at 8:30 a.m.

“We have all kind of mining heritage photos from the museum,” said Larocque, who has been helping to organize the picnic for the past 10 years.

The family event includes a free pancake breakfast, a heritage walk, pet parade, live music, games, a train ride, arts and crafts and more.

“It is such a wonderful day for the children,” Larocque said.

A tea will take place at 2 p.m., where a number of senior residents will be telling stories about Nanaimo during its mining days.

“You can sit and listen to all their stories,” she said. “One of our residents is turning 100 … so we are going to give her a birthday cake. Talking to her she knows a lot of heritage [about Nanaimo].”

Now entering its 24th year, Larocque said one of the biggest reasons for the picnic’s success has been due to the sponsors who donate their time and money to ensuring the event continues year after year.

“It’s the businesses and the people in the neighbourhood that really make a difference,” she said.

For a full schedule of events and for more information, please visit

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