Built by the Hudsons Bay Company in 1853 to protect their mining interests around Nanaimo, The Bastion is one of the oldest buildings in BC.
Built by the Hudsons Bay Company in 1853 to protect their mining interests around Nanaimo, The Bastion is one of the oldest buildings in BC. The building is octagonal in plan with 3 floors, the top one being jettied out over the lower two. The building is located close to Nanaimo Harbour and bristles with gun ports. It is made from hewn logs of cedar and fir fitted to columns at the corners with a tongue and groove joint. This style of construction known as “piece sur piece” is one of its primary character defining elements and is common in Hudsons Bay Company buildings across Canada.
The building had suffered some decay of the log ends (most importantly the base of the posts) and was now leaning toward the harbour by approximately 6”. The City of Nanaimo engaged Reed Jones Christoffersen as Consultants to specify and tender the work. In the summer of 2010, M&L were awarded the contract for restoration of The Bastion, with Knappett Projects as General Contractor.
The first task was to safely remove the lead paint coating, followed by the painstaking task of dismantling the log walls to allow repairs to be carried out. Every timber was tagged and its location recorded on drawings to ensure correct placement when reassembled. The entire structure was surveyed to establish its current position and geometry; this information was used to determine what actions would be required to correct the lean that was present. Logs and columns needing repairs were transported back to M&Ls shop facility. Here a sawmill and bandsaw could be used to make tidy, accurate cuts to remove decayed wood and patch in new wood to re-form log ends and faces.
The scope of work expanded when the City asked M&L to carry out repairs to the floor beams of the 2nd and 3rd floors. These had required strengthening and an earlier program of work had added steel beams to the sides which were now considered unsightly. M&L achieved a successful result by sawing the beams in half lengthways and bonding the halves back together with the steel beams hidden inside. To achieve this additional work, it was necessary to completely dismantle the building: the entire roof was taken off and placed on the adjacent plaza to allow access to the floor beams. After a few months of detailed repair work both on and off site, the pieces were reassembled. After reassembly the Bastion received a new coat of paint with special caulking between the logs. A rain screen covering will be used during the winter months to protect the sides of the structure from the coastal weather.
The Bastion is an icon for the City of Nanaimo. While working there we received lots of attention and positive feedback from the people of Nanaimo who are rightly proud of this special heritage building. M&L are very pleased to have played a role in it’s preservation for future generations to enjoy and connect with the past of this place.
M&L are particularly pleased with the creative repair solutions employed to preserve as much as possible of the original timbers. We always strive for an appropriate balance of subtle improvements, while retaining and preserving important historic aspects of the building.