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Nanaimo, British Columbia (Canada)

Nanaimo Regional District

Last modified: 2020-06-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: nanaimo | british columbia | st george cross | ship |
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[Nanaimo BC flag] 1:1 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

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Nanaimo is a city on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is known as "The Harbour City". Nanaimo is also the headquarters of the Nanaimo Regional District.

Current Flag

Text and image(s) from Canadian City Flags, Raven 18 (2011), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) by permission of Eugene Ipavec.


The flag of the City of Nanaimo has a white field bearing a red cross whose bars’ widths are one-eighth the height of the flag and whose ends extend to its edges. In the upper left quarter is a three-masted square-rigged ship with a brown hull, black masts, white sails, and two red pennants, sailing to the left atop the upper of two wavy blue stripes. In the lower right quarter is a pattern of full and partial black diamonds, arrayed 1-2-1-2-1 (the top and bottom diamonds are truncated); their width nearly matches that of the cross’s bars.
Jim Croft, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011


The cross of St. George of red on white derives from the coat of arms of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which founded Nanaimo in 1849 as a trading post and fort. The ship, a barque, is a representation of the Princess Royal, which brought the first settlers from England to Nanaimo to develop the nearby coal mines. The black diamonds (known as “lozenges” in heraldry) represent coal. In 1849, the Snuneymuxw Chief Ki-et-sa-kun told the Hudson’s Bay Company of the presence of coal in the area. The coal mining industry developed soon after, becoming the primary economic activity in Nanaimo up to 1960. The flag is a banner of the city’s arms.
Jim Croft, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011


Unknown (arms granted 1951).
Jim Croft, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011


Unknown. The arms were designed by heralds of the College of Arms in London, England, and granted 28 September 1951.
Jim Croft, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Blazon of Coat of Arms

[Nanaimo BC flag] image by Antonio Martins

Argent a cross Gules in the first quarter on two bars wavy Azure a barque in full sail proper pennons flying Gules and the fourth quarter semé of lozenges Sable;

The Nanaimo Bastion proper;

Source: Canadian Heraldic Authority

Rectangular version

[Nanaimo BC flag] photograph by Peter Ansoff, 15 September 2006

The picture "in the cloth" shows colour to the ship in the first quarter.
Dean McGee, 15 September 2006

Logo Flag

[Nanaimo BC flag] 1:1 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

Nanaimo has replaced its banner of arms with a letterhead on a white sheet. The logo can be found on the city's website and spells out "City of Nanaimo" in large capitals, and "The Harbour City" in smaller letters underneath. The flag is 1:2, and there are definitely two shades of blue in the logo.
Dean McGee, 25 August 2009

I don't think the flag has been officially replaced; the "city emblems" page at still shows the banner of arms under "city flag." The logo flag would appear to be an informal - or parallel-use - addition. The emblems page also shows a large version of the logo (which comes in two slightly different versions, labeled "City Logo" and "Community Logo", of which this is the former. The logo may echo the two blue waves in the shield.
Eugene Ipavec
, 25 August 2009

A photo published in "Nanaimo Daily News", 8 March 2012, shows the square version of the flag (with the hoist on the right side of the photo), confirming that the flag is still in official use. The flag shown on the photo was flown on Camp Nathan Smith of the Canadian Forces in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, during the Operation Hometown.

The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, whose explanation is given on the municipal website, as follows:

In 1950, it was decided by Mayor Earle C. Westwood and his Council, that an application should be made to the College of Arms in England for the official registration of arms for Nanaimo to coincide with Nanaimo's celebration of 100 years of development and of 75 years as an incorporated City. A proposed design and blazon were submitted to the College of Arms for tentative approval. The suggestions made by the Sumerset Herald of Arms to alter the direction of the pattern of the fourth quarter and to conventionalize the representation of the sea in the first quarter were adopted. A formal application was then made. The fee for registration at that time was approximately $325.00. The official authorization of the arms was made on 23 September 1951 and the documents were completed and dated on 28 September 1951.
The principal colour of the arms of Nanaimo is red taken from the red cross on a silver field on the arms of the Hudson's Bay Company. On the first quarter of the shield is a representation of a barque to commemorate the arrival of Nanaimo's early settlers from England after a sea voyage of five months in this type of vessel. On the fourth quarter is a pattern of "black diamonds" representing Nanaimo coal mining industry, now discontinued but the original reason for Nanaimo's existence. The open second and third quarters indicate the unfulfilled future.
Ivan Sache, 9 March 2012