Cowichan Bay History

Comments 4 by Rebecca Bollwitt

A young Keira
in her Cowichan sweater

The last time I was in the Cowichan Bay area, I was playing high school rugby. Since I’m spending so much time here this week I thought it would be neat to share some of the history of this area.

The Cowichan Valley is between Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. You can get here by taking a ferry, or plane to either and driving over. The resort where we’re currently also has a heli-pad in case you’d want to explore in rockstar fashion.

Aside from their prime rugby talent, Cowichan is also world-famous for their sweaters made by the Cowichan band of the Coast Salish First Nation.

The town of Duncan is pretty much the hub of the Cowichan valley. It was the last stop south on a trail from Nanaimo after which people would take a boat over to Victoria [source]. In 1886 when the railway was completed between Nanaimo and Esquilmalt, a Mr Duncan was asked to if they could put a stop on his farmland. The site of this farm and stop are now a part of downtown Duncan. [source]

Cowichan River delta – Photo credit: GerryT on Flickr

Quick facts:

  • Rugby truly is huge here and dare I say this is probably the rugby capital of Canada.
  • Cowichan is home to the second oldest grass tennis courts, the oldest aside from Wimbledon.
  • The original mission is a stone structure called “Butter Church” built in 1870. Its construction was financed by the local farm that produced butter, hence the name. There’s a neat blog about the building along with old and modern photos here.
  • There are a few museums to check out, from the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives to the really neat-looking Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre.
  • I learned last night that the historic Kinsol Trestle (below) was named after King Solomon.
  • Cowichan Bay was recently named North America’s first “Slow Food” (or “Cittaslow”) city. [source] [source]
  • White Rock, south of Surrey, has a connection to the Cowichan, “According to romantic legend, the boulder was tossed onto the beach by the son of a Salish sea-god who fell in love with a Cowichan princess.” [source]

  • Photo credit: gdbate on Flickr

    From salmon fishing, hiking, resorts and B&Bs to fertile farmlands and a strong agricultural past, this area is definitely worth exploring. I’ll be heading out to a cidery today along with a few wineries and then stopping in with a cheese maker. The whole idea of a Tourism BC trip is so that they can introduce us to people and places in the hopes that we’ll tell their stories. I’m looking forward to all that is in store.

    I recently toured the South East portion of Vancouver Island with Tourism BC. You can read all of my posts from the trip under the tag: ‘Cowichan‘.

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    4 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

    1. Keira-AnneWednesday, August 19th, 2009 — 8:26am PDT

      For those traveling the Island, I highly recommend taking the train from Victoria to Courtenay. It slowly meanders its way through the Cowichan Valley – including over trestles – and the views are stunning. Fortunately, it’s an especially beautiful trip in the Fall with turning leaves and whatnot, so take Rebecca’s word for it and see it for yourself.

    2. RoshanWednesday, August 19th, 2009 — 6:52pm PDT

      Sounds like a nice, sweet & beautiful place to visit. I like the name ‘Cowichan’ – sounds like a Christian name in Kerala (Southern India).

    3. Miss604Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 — 6:56pm PDT

      @Roshan Ir really is lovely. Cowichan is actually a First Nations name meaning “the warm land” although there are other more specific translations, which are similar

    4. Cowichan Bay Village » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittThursday, August 20th, 2009 — 6:18pm PDT

      […] I also stumbled across the maritime centre that I linked to in my history post. […]

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