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Page last updated August 30, 2011

© Michael Kluckner

Painted/written in 2002: An interesting block of cottages arranged beneath some magnificent mature trees, the  Evergreen Auto Court is part of an area of old, working-class homes in Nanaimo's Southend Neighbourhood Area. It was originally known as Robins' Gardens. It is an area for . . . uh, the downwardly mobile, with evidence of all sorts of social problems on the streets and in the yards, and little (so far) of the individual home-restorers who move in and begin to fix up the old places. The sketch above is from Milton Street--the Esplanade and the railyards are to the right, Fry Street up the gentle hill to the left.

Information from the brochure of the Nanaimo Heritage Commission: This is one of Nanaimo's most historic blocks. Before 1900, this area was the upscale part of town and included many of Nanaimo's most elegant homes. Robins' Gardens are named after Samuel Robins, the Vancouver Coal Company Mine Superintendent from 1884 to 1903. Robins revitalized the Vancouver Coal Company after years of decline and developed good relationships with labour [something lacking from the days of the Dunsmuir family's Number 1 Mine, nearby, which was the area's original raison d'etre] Robins was an avid gardener who collected plant specimens from around the world. His 18-room home and grounds, complete with gazebo, fishpond and rose garden, have long since disappeared. By 1930, the Western Fuel Corporation owned the entire block and no buildings remained. In the WWII era, at least 6 auto courts were built in Nanaimo in response to the rising popularity of automobile vacations--this being one.

Update from Blondie of Sunshine Roofing, 2011: All that's left of the old Evergreen Auto Court are some of the trees. A developer came in a few years back and knocked everything down...all the little cabins, everything... Then left it to grow wild. Very sad.
The saddest part is that even though it was listed in Nanaimo's most historic places, City Council did nothing to prevent this from happening. No-one did. One day it was there, the next day gone. Not even a mention in the local paper. :'(

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Artwork and text ©Michael Kluckner, 2001, 2002