No matter the season, something beautiful is found around every corner at Bowen Park in Nanaimo. Whether you are looking for natural spaces or city-run amenities, this 36-hectare park in the heart of the city offers much to its visitors.
Location: 500 Bowen Road
- Waterfall and Fish Ladder
- Duck Pond
- Interpretative Trails
- Rhododendron Grove
- Rose Garden
- Outdoor swimming pool (seasonal)
- Covered picnic shelters (2)
- Sports fields
- Disc Golf
- Tennis Courts (6)
- Sand Volleyball Courts (4)
- Lacrosse Box
- Curling Club and Arena
- Lawn Bowling
- Playgrounds (2)
- Outdoor Amphitheatre
A Bit of History
Bowen Park is named after George and James Bowen, brothers and owners of Western Fuel Company based in San Fransico. With the condition that the land is used for park purposes only, the brothers donated the parkland to the City of Nanaimo in 1918. However, the official land title registration didn’t take place until 1931.
Park development, expansion and improvements started in 1953, when the Rotary Club of Nanaimo established the Bowen Park Development Association. And in 1958, Harry Wipper, the new manager for the Civic Properties and Recreation Commission board, created a ten-year master plan for the park.
During that 10-year span, the recreation complex, outdoor pool, tennis courts and lawn bowling green were established.
In 1963, the Billy Lewis Centenary Memorial Rose Garden was erected and dedicated to Mr. Lewis’ 100th birthday. And in 1975, the Hailey Rhododendron Grove was established, thanks to the 350 rhododendron hybrids donated by Mrs. Ellen Hailey. These unique variations were from her own personal collection, and unknowingly she created what experts say may be one of a kind still to this day.
Bowen Park has the only outdoor volleyball sand courts in Nanaimo and is home to a championship disc golf course. Discs can be borrowed from the registration centre during business hours for those who’d like to try this sport. There’s both an active and thriving lawn bowling and curling club, especially amongst Nanaimo seniors. And the park’s sports fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pitches and lacrosse box are usually hopping with activity.
Children and youth love the two playgrounds and skate park.
And let’s not forget about all the beautiful natural areas the park features.
The Millstone River is a slow-moving, shallow body of water that provides a wonderful spot to dip your feet in when the weather is hot. This area of the park, found off Wall Street, is also where you’ll find the picnic shelters, one playground, and the Rhododendron Grove. The rhododendrons are typically in bloom from late February until July, with the best viewing opportunities in May.
Following the river path into the park will take you to a beautiful waterfall and eventually the much-loved duck pond. Continuing on this 2.5 km loop trail also brings you to a few brightly coloured totem poles lying on the ground. Signage explains the history of the carvings and their significance to the Snuneymuxw peoples.
To further your walk, many offshoot trails are available that connect you to various aspects of the park.
Millstream Parkway is a single-lane road covered by a beautiful canopy of trees that winds its way through the park. Whether driving or walking, this road gives you access to all the park has to offer, including the many free parking areas. Directional signs within the park make it easy to find the area or activity you are seeking.
If in doubt, here is a Map of Bowen Park, curtesy of the City of Nanaimo.
While You Are There
There are a few other great places to explore while you are in the general area, including the following.
Have you been to Bowen Park? What are your favourite activities to do here? Let us know in the comment section below.
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