Here’s how the world famous Nanaimo bathtub races came to be (WITH VIDEO)


In this episode of BC Was Awesome I travel to Nanaimo to get the story of how their world famous bathtub races came to be.

It all started with the guy who is arguably their most popular mayor ever: Frank Ney.

To say he was an eccentric character would be an understatement. The dude walked around town dressed as an actual pirate, complete with a sword.

His legacy (beyond coming up with ridiculous street names like Tiggly Wiggly Road) was the bathtub races.

Launched by Ney and his cohorts in 1967 the idea was… well… simple: attach outboard motors onto actual bathtubs, converting them into boats, then race them all the way across the Strait of Georgia and into Vancouver.

The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society was formed, and over the years many tubs were sunk, and countless hours of fun and entertainment were brought to the citizens of Vancouver Island.

One of Ney’s pirate costumes is on permanent display at the Nanaimo Museum, just a few steps from a converted bathtub you can check out.

A statue of Ney stands proudly on the waterfront, sword held high.

That’s awesome.

BC Was Awesome is a British Columbia history TV show co-produced by Vancouver Is Awesome and Artaban Productions. A book of the same name is set to be published in time for the province’s centennial celebrations in 2021. Watch all of the episodes for free on OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

Frank Ney, the pirate mayor of Nanaimo. Screengrab