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Introducing Nanaimo

Maligned for years as Vancouver Island's grubby second city, Nanaimo will never have the allure of tourist-magnet Victoria. But the 'Harbour City' has undergone its own quiet renaissance since the 1990s, with the downtown emergence of some good shops and eateries and a slick new museum. With its own ferry service from the mainland, the city is also a handy hub for exploring up-island.