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Nanaimo Archives hosting mini downtown walking tour for B.C. Heritage Week

Lunch-hour tour Feb. 22 will feature stories about downtown’s historical buildings
Hear previously untold tales about the buildings of Commercial Street on a free lunch-hour walking tour hosted by the Nanaimo Community Archives. (News Bulletin file photo)

History buffs looking for something interesting to do on their lunch breaks can hear tales from from downtown Nanaimo’s past.

Christine Meutzner, Nanaimo Community Archives manager, and Chris Sholberg, City of Nanaimo culture and heritage planner, will host a one-hour Mini Downtown Walking Tour this week and recall some old tales from Commercial Street’s history, dating back more than 100 years.

The tour will start at Diana Krall Plaza and venture down Commercial Street to Terminal Avenue and then work its way back to Bastion Street.

“Anything to do with development and planning, Chris will cover, and I’m going to look more at the old buildings and tell some stories about the old building,” Meutzner said. “I do have some information on some of the buildings that has never gone anywhere and never been published.”

Meutzner said she and Sholberg wanted to recognize B.C. Heritage Week, Feb. 20-26, with an activity that would be easy for people to attend during the daytime.

“The intent of doing this downtown during the day was to capture people who maybe don’t want to do an extensive tour, but might want to pop out during their lunch hour to do a little one … a different audience than a Saturday afternoon kind of audience,” she said.

One tidbit of a tale Muetzner said hasn’t come to light before is one of family connections linking three old buildings close to each other on Commercial Street. One of the buildings was inherited by a woman who married a man who worked there, and together they bought the building next door.

“And then he died – all of the men died early in this case – and then their daughter bought the next building over and had a store with a man who also died young,” Muetzner said. “It sort of goes to show what a small town it was in that sense. There were so many interconnections and, what a kind of sad story that was too, because none of those men lived very long.”

The Mini Downtown Walking Tour happens Wednesday, Feb. 22, noon to 1 p.m. Participants are asked to meet at Diana Krall Plaza.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, from noon to 2 p.m., there will be an open house inside the Freemason Hall, 100 Commercial St., located at the corner of Commercial and Skinner streets. People can drop in any time during the event and guides with Nanaimo’s Freemasons will be on hand to show people through the hall.

“I think people will be amazed at how beautiful the building is and how unusual,” Meutzner said.

Both events are free of charge. To learn more, visit the Nanaimo Community Archives on Facebook.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo Freemasons open doors at their lodge

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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