Become an Urban Explorer

It’s beginning to look a lot like….ok I wont’ say it, but let’s face it we are heading into the season that shall not be named (until mid November, that is).  I’m going to take some time to share some ideas about how to spend this time of year with your loved ones, because let’s face it, that’s an activity that should happen year round.

When I was a kid I used to spend a lot of time following my dad around to buildings to measure things and make notes.  He was an architect and I was his unofficial apprentice.  I’m sure he regretted bringing me sometimes because I wasn’t always that helpful, I remember getting us locked in a giant safe at an old bank one day.  One of the fun things about this part of my life was my opportunity to explore old buildings, learn about their history and appreciate the beauty all around me.  He once did a structural study of the ‘windows at Harvard University’.  We spent an awful lot of time inspecting the windows of various buildings around campus. In everyday life most of us don’t even really look at these sorts of things, but there are unique and beautiful things all around us and often the stories are the most interesting part.  You don’t have to walk the hallowed halls of Harvard to find them, they are right here in beautiful Downtown Nanaimo.  

When my son was born I looked at his tiny face and said “I want your life to be extraordinary” and for much of his young life I made that my mission.  Part of that mission was to find the extraordinary in the ordinary just as I had done with my dad.  I wanted him to have a romantic notion of the world and to seek out the unique and beautiful all around him just as my dad had done for me.

So here I am living in this gorgeous city and I’m making my own life extraordinary through urban exploration. 

This incredible city has such a rich history, some of it is sad, but most of it is beautiful.  I have been spending a lot of time lately learning about the Indigenous people that inhabited this area prior to colonization and their stories are so unique and interesting.  Their stories become sad in more recent history but that is not something for us to overlook because if we do we miss the learning.  Part of urban exploration is a deep need to learn and understand the world directly around us.

It’s a great time of year to really begin to explore, inspire the minds of your children, make memories with your loved ones and find the uniqueness of this place.

One thing I understand really well is how to have fun doing almost anything.  Time with loved ones does not have to be elaborate or expensive.  

Here are some of my suggestions on how to become an Urban Explorer right here in Downtown Nanaimo.

  • Go to www.downtownnanaimo.comand check out the event listings as well as the business directory to get some ideas about places to go and things to see and do.
  • Check out learn about the various museums offering insights into Nanaimo of the past.
  • Explore the Snuneymuxw history and teachings to truly understand how special this area is.  I recommend taking time to learn the true names of each area in our city.  This used to be a community of 23 villages!
  • Go to the library and take out a book about local history and walk around the streets and try to find the locations mentioned in the book.  Here is a tip:  NYLA has a gallery of historical pictures on the wall of the store, to get you started.
  • Remember the Sears Christmas catalog well. When I was a kid I used to circle all the toys I wanted as soon as it arrived, (I’m sure we all did).  Let’s start a new tradition to support the locals.  Go to local shops downtown Nanaimo and make your Christmas lists in person.
  • Grab your Pumpkin Spiced latte or Peppermint hot chocolate downtown and check out the Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Library, and the Nanaimo museum.

I am so glad to be a part of this community and I love to explore and find the uniqueness around me and I truly encourage you to do the same.  The memories you will make are priceless.

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Big Love

Shauna Arnott

Downtown Business Association 

Community Engagement Coordinator