Wellington, British Columbia

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Wellington, British Columbia is located in Vancouver Island
Wellington, British Columbia
Location of Wellington within the Nanaimo District on Vancouver Island
Coordinates: 49°12′28″N 124°00′55″W / 49.20778°N 124.01528°W / 49.20778; -124.01528Coordinates: 49°12′28″N 124°00′55″W / 49.20778°N 124.01528°W / 49.20778; -124.01528
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Region Vancouver Island
Regional district Nanaimo Regional District
Elevation 115 m (377 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Total 3,935 (Diver Lake)
 • Density 988.1/km2 (2,559/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
Website http://www.wellingtonbc.ca

Wellington is the name of a north Nanaimo, British Columbia neighbourhood, which was once the town of Wellington. The community was named for Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.[1]

Since amalgamation with Nanaimo, Wellington District is often referred to as "North Nanaimo" with the former townsites collectively keeping the neighbourhood name of "Wellington".


Wellington is located in a shared portion of the traditional territories of the Sneneymuxw and Nanoose First Nations. Both nations are Coast Salish and use the Halkomelem language. WIth their heavy seaworthy canoes, both groups were highly mobile traders and many would have used Chinook Jargon as a trading language.

Early photographs of Europeans standing for photo-ops in the distinctive Salish canoes on Long Lake show that the first nations and the Europeans coexisted in the Wellington area.

Prior to 1869 a small number of settlers had established farms around Diver Lake, Long Lake and Brannen Lake. The neighbourhood had a saloon and was connected to Nanaimo by a trail. With extensive marshes and lakes, the area was frequented by Nanaimo residents for fishing and hunting.

In 1869 Robert Dunsmuir discovered a thin surface seam coal on the roots of a fallen tree while visiting Diver Lake. Dunsmuir was a coal miner with a keen interest in operating his own mine and immediately investigated the coal seam. By 1871 Dunsmuir had discovered the Wellington coal seam which underlaid his initial discovery. Once Dunsmuir determined the Coal was of good quality and significant quantity, he established a company so that he could get a land grant for the area. This first grant covered most of what is today known as the Wellington Land District. Initially the town grew up along the crest of land which is now Jingle Pot Road.

By 1871 Dunsmuir had the new mine producing coal, and a company village had sprung up to provide labour for the Wellington mine. Wellington grew fast and by 1874 the School in Wellington had 90 pupils. The Wellington mine grew quickly and was soon outproducing the more established Vancouver Coal Company of Nanaimo. By the 1890s the town, with 5,000 residents, was the second largest city on Vancouver Island (after Victoria, the capital).

To move the coal a railway was built in Wellington and also at the Wellington docks in Departure Bay. Money from the Wellington coal and the railway experience from the Wellington Colliery railway enabled Robert Dunsmuir to become the successful bidder for the contract to build the railway on Vancouver Island, a railway which was promised as part of British Columbia's terms for joining confederation. Ten months after the E & N Railway was completed, Wellington became the northern terminus. On completion of the railway, Wellington's town centre moved to the ridge running parallel to the railway and overlooking Long Lake. This road is on the West side of the railway tracks and is still called Wellington Road.

In 1896, James Dunsmuir agreed to relinquish company control of some of his lands, and an official Wellington townsite was surveyed and established between the east side of the railway and Long Lake. The streets of the town were named after important figures or places in the Duke of Wellington's career.

The Dunsmuirs were industrialists and they mined the seam as fast as they could, controlling insomuch as was possible every aspect of their business, including the sale of the coal through a San Francisco office. By 1898 due either to family feuds, economics, or easier prospects, the mine was scheduled to be closed. As a mining town the closure of the mine was devastating. To add to the town's misery, James Dunsmuir ordered the company buildings to be dismantled and moved to Ladysmith by cart or rail. To keep from abandoning the town which had made them rich and powerful, the Dunsmuir's had the E and N Railway move its works yard from Victoria to Wellington. The following year, in 1899, many of the town's key building burned in a great fire. The opera house and many other buildings were destroyed.

After the fire, the town continued on as a rural town until WWII, at which time Nanaimo started to grow so that Wellington became a bedroom community for many Nanaimo residents.

In the 1960s, the Wellington Improvement District amalgamated with the City of Nanaimo. Since amalgamation with Nanaimo, Wellington District is often referred to as "North Nanaimo" with only the former town site areas keeping the neighbourhood name of "Wellington".

In July 1968, almost 100 years after Wellington coal was discovered, the last Wellington neighbourhood mine ceased operations with the closure of the Carruthers slopes of Wellington #9 mine were worked the tailings off Jinglepot Rd and what is now Landmark Cres. This was from 1949 until July 28 1968 when Bob-the last surviving active coal miner on Vancouver Island -closed the mine for good and retired. Carruthers used 2 Shetland ponies to bring up the coal cars to the surface until both died. Another mine the Loudon #6 mine also known as the Loudon-Wakelem Slopes closed when Willam Wakelem retired in 1964.

Modern day[edit]

Today's Wellington neighbourhood is often referred to as Diver Lake, Long Lake, Wellington, Rutherford or North Nanaimo. Its lakes provide fishing and recreation, while its heritage as an old town has resulted in a very diverse neighbourhood which includes residential, commercial and industrial land. It is flanked by Nanaimo North Town Centre (formally Rutherford Mall), Long Lake, and Country Club Mall to the north, Beban Community Center Complex to the south-east, farms to the west, and the Mostar/Boban industrial area to the northwest.

Wellington has two schools, Mount Benson Elementary and Wellington Secondary.


Canada 2006 Census[2]
Wellington Nanaimo British Columbia
Median age 37.1 years 43.3 years 40.8 years
Under 15 years old 21.1% 16% 17%
Over 65 years old 13% 17% 15%

The Wellington neighbourhood population and demographics can be approximated by using the figures for the Diver Lake Census Tract which covers the largest portion of the Wellington neighbourhood. The actual population of the Wellington neighbourhood would be slightly higher if the portions of the neighbourhood not included in the Census Tract were included. Population growth from the 2001 to 2006 was 8.1% vs 7.8% and 5.3% for the City of Nanaimo and Province of British Columbia.

See also[edit]

List of coal mines and landmarks in the Nanaimo area


  1. ^ "Wellington". BC Geographical Names. 
  2. ^ Statistics Canada (July 25, 2006). "Wellington-Diver Lake Census Tract". 2006 Census. Canada. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 

External links[edit]

Robert Carruthers fonds Level of description Fonds Repository Nanaimo Community Archives Reference code CA NCAI