Romance is in the air today (Feb. 14) and chocolate hearts, roses and greeting cards aplenty will be exchanged across Nanaimo on the most important day of the year for lovers.
Apparently love is also in the water or, more accurately, the waterfront in the Harbour City.
Last week, in advance of Valentine’s Day, Amazon.ca released its fourth annual list of the top 20 most romantic cities in Canada and Nanaimo was No. 9 on the list.
The list was compiled by comparing Amazon.ca sales data of romance novels and relationship books, romantic comedy DVDs and a collection of romantic CDs from the past year on a per capita basis in cities with more than 80,000 residents.
When asked about romance in Nanaimo, one of the first things that comes to mind for residents is the city’s numerous waterfront views.
Whether one prefers to admire the sunrise while walking along the waterfront walkway or contemplate the sunset over Mount Benson, the city provides a range of spectacular backdrops for lovers, said Mayor John Ruttan.
“Nanaimo can be a very romantic place to be,” said Ruttan. “I think there’s a little something for everyone. It’s kind of an interesting accolade, but one I think is worth pursuing. If we do have a percentage of romantic people in Nanaimo, that can’t be all bad.”
Neck Point Park is one picturesque spot that Ruttan and his wife of about 40 years, Dianne, like to go walking.
He also points to the quaint Old City Quarter, various beaches and Bowen Park as some other places particularly suited to lighting the flames of passion.
Marriage commissioner Lee Montgomery is witness to many of the more lovey-dovey goings-on in the city.
Even though she’s performed numerous nuptial ceremonies, she still finds herself choking back tears sometimes as she watches residents finding unique and touching ways to say ‘I do.’
Neck Point Park and the outdoor amphitheatre in Bowen Park are the top two spots in Nanaimo couples choose to tie the knot, said Montgomery.
Downtown Nanaimo is a beautiful setting for the sentimental at heart, said Corry Hostetter, general manager of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.
“Anybody who comes here to visit raves about how beautiful the downtown is and how romantic it is,” she said.
Her top three spots – a bench overlooking the waterfront in Maffeo Sutton Park, a table in the back of Modern Café and the display counter at Bastion Jewellers.