Welcome to the Cowichan!
Discover the Flavours of the Cowichan Region
Cowichan world-famous for:
- Cowichan Sweaters
- Cowichan Valley Trail - our piece of the Trans Canada Trail
- World's largest hockey stick in the Guinness Book of World Records
- Chemainus Murals and Theatre Festival
- Cowichan River: World Heritage / Canadian Heritage River
- Kinsol Trestle Restoration Project
What Cowichan has to Offer
- More Artists per capita than anywhere else in Canada!!
- Foodies Paradise: rich farmland and the perfect weather for fresh produce and wines
- Warmest mean average annual temperatures in Canada, extended growing season
- One of 3 recognized wine regions in BC, includes a brewery and local cidery
- Forward-thinking communities working towards Biodiversity and making GREENER choices
- Multitude of alternative healthy lifestyle choices
- Variety of fun Festivals and family entertainment throughout the year
The Cowichan Region is located on land that is part of the traditional territory of the Coast Salish Nation. Spectacular in beauty and diverse in terrain, Cowichan showcases the best of the west coast: mountains and valleys, fresh-water lakes and rivers, ocean beaches, farm fields and rich forests of cedar and Douglas Fir. It is no surprise that what was once mostly a forest and mining community is now evolving towards a strong focus on tourism, agriculture and the Arts.
The Cowichan Region is a unique shopping experience in every sense of the word. For the nature enthusiast there are nature trails (including the Trans Canada Trail), fresh-water and ocean adventure sports; for Foodies there are amazing places to eat, coffee and tea shops to meet in, tastings at local wineries, and markets to buy locally-grown farm fresh produce; for shoppers and visitors, there are unique shops in every nook and cranny, museums to explore, art and theatre to revel and inspire in, and access to a multitude of services for everything under the area's 'warmland' sun.
The total land area is 373,000 hectares (3730 km2). The current population estimate for the CVRD is 81,689.
Mediterranean or Provence? Cowichan is anything but ordinary...
One of the great compliments of the Cowichan is its reference as "Canada's Provence", while the climate is often referred to as very "Maritime Mediterranean".
Locals claim that the warm, dry summers and mild, moist winters provide ideal growing conditions for many grape varieties.
Those who live and work here are seeing something more unique - the Cowichan quite definitely has a flavour of its own. While the soil is fertile and perfect for grapes and other produce, the people are welcoming to the advantages that lie ahead as the region gears up for more local, more GREEN and definitely more flavourful, with a diversity that matches its terrain.
A little history...
The origin of the name Cowichan is generally believed to be an anglicized form of the First Nations tribal name Quw'utsun pronounced "Khowutzun". This word in turn may be derived from Hul'qumi'num, meaning "the warm land".
The Cowichan Region is rich with a history of both Native and European settlers. Duncan is the traditional home of the Coast Salish Indians. Archaeological evidence dates the existence of natives peoples as far back as 4,500 years. The Cowichan, makers of the world famous Cowichan Sweaters, are the largest native band.
The first European settlers arrived in the Mill Bay area in 1848. Ten years later Giovanni Ordano became the first storekeeper when he opened a store and hotel in Cowichan Bay. This establishment exists today as the Masthead Restaurant. In 1862 one hundred settlers arrived in Cowichan Bay aboard the HMS Hecate in the company of Governor James Douglas. Another boatload of brace settlers arrived two years later and a community began stretching out from the Bay to Cobble Hill, Mill Bay and Cowichan Station. To read more about the rich and interesting history of the Cowichan Region, visit the many Museums around the area.
For more History... visit any of the links on this page and local museums.