View of VIU campus looking towards Gabriola Island on sunny day

13 unique VIU places to discover

September 13, 2022

An art gallery, high-end restaurant and fully equipped theatre are just some of the offerings

With more than 120 programs to choose from ranging from trades certificates and diplomas, to undergraduate and graduate degrees, it's safe to say there's plenty of opportunities to discover a variety of places, courses and connections at Vancouver Island University.

And whether you’re a new student looking to discover all this place has to offer, or you’re a returning student who just needed a quick reminder of what’s available to you, there's no shortage of unique spots to be found, no matter what you're searching for. Although many of these spots are located at VIU's main campus in Nanaimo, we’ve also included a few facts about our other campuses and facilities.

The high-end restaurant

The Nanaimo region offers abundance when it comes to dining options and this includes the fine-dining establishment right here at VIU, known as The Discovery Room. VIU’s full-service learning restaurant connects students with community patrons. Learning by doing, Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts students serve up a contemporary dining experience. Menus change weekly and are typically refreshed every Monday for the coming week's service.

The fully-equipped theatre

Located in Building 310, VIU’s 300-seat Malaspina Theatre serves as an instructional theatre for aspiring artists, and hosts a variety of events throughout the year, most of which are organized by students and faculty. Past performances have included plays and theatre productions, film screenings, poetry readings, burlesque shows, orchestra ensembles and musicals.

Entrance of the Malaspina Theatre

The koi pond

Located in the Tamagawa Gardens (next to Building 345), the koi pond is a favourite spot for those looking for a quiet, peaceful oasis right on campus. Surrounding the pond, the traditional Japanese garden boasts a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. Designed by Japanese garden specialist Roy Tanaka, the gardens were a gift from Tokyo's Tamagawa University and were opened in 1979. The koi in the pond were donated by CUPE Local 1858, Mr. and Mrs. R.H Sage and Joel Southward.

Koi fish in the Koi pond

The art gallery

Adjacent to the Visual Arts building is The View Gallery, conceived and led by faculty in the Department of Art and Design. The gallery mounts exhibitions of contemporary art by international, national and student artists. It also serves as a venue for annual student exhibitions and is an important part of both the Visual Art curriculum and student experience of campus life.

Outside wall of the Art Gallery

Shq’apthut – VIU’s Aboriginal Gathering Place

A home away from home for First Nations, Status, Non-Status, Métis, and Inuit students, Shq’apthut – VIU’s Aboriginal Gathering Place on the Nanaimo campus is the home of Services for Aboriginal Students (SAS). All campus community members are welcome at Shq’apthut. Elders-in-Residence are available five days a week to assist you with matters that arise at each stage of your student experience. Shq’apthut is also a place where cultural, academic, recreational and social activities are promoted and celebrated. There are numerous feasts, success workshops and other community events that all students are encouraged to participate in throughout the year.

The Gathering Place building

The dental clinic

Are you due for a dentist appointment, but unsure where to go? Why not check out VIU's cost-effective, on-campus Dental Clinic? All treatments are provided by dental students who are supervised by licensed faculty and dentists. To become a client, call the clinic at 250-740-6240.

The automotive shop

Is your vehicle making a funny sound? Finding it harder and harder to make it up Fifth Street in one smooth go? Why not bring your ride to the on-campus auto shop and let automotive students take a look? All work is inspected by an instructor, and any safety-related work (such as brakes, steering, etc.) is road tested by the student or students who worked on the vehicle, and an instructor or shop technician.

The hair salon

The Hairdressing Program on the Nanaimo campus of Vancouver Island University operates a salon as part of the program. The salon is open from Monday to Thursday for hair services and the purchase of hair products. From time to time, the salon will offer specials on products that they carry. VIU Employees and the general public are always welcome to drop by the salon during business hours to purchase salon product or to book an appointment for services.

The woodland estate

Taking a little trip "up-Island?" Why not stop in at the 70-acre woodland estate known as Milner Gardens? The estate is just a 40-minute drive from the Nanaimo campus, in the town of Qualicum Beach. The property was purchased by Ray Milner in 1937, who started establishing the garden with his first wife until her passing in 1952. Work continued on the garden after Ray married his second wife Veronica in 1954. The estate was acquired by VIU in 1996. In May of that same year, the garden was officially dedicated as "The Milner Gardens," in recognition of Ray and Veronica. VIU's goal is to maintain the garden in perpetuity for educational purposes, as well as the community's benefit.  

Photo of the main house at Milner Gardens

The esthetics salon

Located in Parksville, the VIU Spa Institute is a teaching school that features esthetics and nail services among its offerings. All services are performed by students in training under the supervision of certified licensed Esthetics and Nail Technology Instructors, using professional products only. VIU employees, friends and family and the general public are always welcome to drop by the salon during business hours to book an appointment for services. Gift certificates are available.

The LEED®-certified campus

Located about a half-hour drive south from the VIU Nanaimo campus is the VIU Cowichan campus in the town of Duncan. Designed to LEED Gold Standards, the multi-purpose educational facility provides a wide range of academic, applied, career, technical, vocational and developmental programs. Some of the LEED features include natural light that provide 90% of the entire building's lighting during daytime hours and a green roof occupying 90% of the building's roof. 

The marine research field station

Located in Bowser, BC, on the shores of Baynes Sound, the Deep Bay Marine Field Station is a key research facility for Vancouver Island University. The station conducts applied research for the shellfish aquaculture industry and provides education for the public on this important part of British Columbia's economy. It also has flexible wet and dry lab spaces with access to standard analytical systems and equipment, flow-though salt water direct from Baynes Sound collected from either 40 or 80 feet deep at slack tide, an 11 ha. marine research shellfish farm incorporating both intertidal and deep water leases, and two research marine vessels along with equipment.

The former elementary school-turned-university campus

In 1974, VIU (then Malaspina College) took responsibility for continuing education classes that were run by Powell River’s school district. At first the classes, which were offered in the evening only, took place in a small white storefront on Marine Avenue in downtown. When the college received funding to run daytime Adult Basic Education classes, a new campus opened in the Centennial Building next to the town’s museum. The new building had office space and three classrooms, although courses were also held in local elementary schools and hotels. In 1983, the campus finally moved to a space that could accommodate the growing number of students and staff – the former Gordon Park Elementary school. The school was leased from the district and originally had 14 classrooms. Five years later a covered play area was converted into more classrooms and a new entrance, complete with a staffroom, boardroom and main office was added. In 2004, the campus was purchased from the school district and air conditioning, new flooring and new lighting installed.

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