Discover the Flavour of North Cowichan

Includes: South End, Chemainus, Crofton, Maple Bay, Genoa Bay, Thetis Island, Penelakut Island, Valdes Island

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North Cowichan is a large area that encompasses the South End as well as the seaside towns of Chemainus, Crofton, Maple Bay, Genoa Bay and Westholme. Take the time to explore each area - they all have their own flavour and favourite destinations: farms, marinas, wineries, restaurants, boutiques and shops.

There are beautiful drives on any road you choose and many interesting stops - ecological reserves, parks, wineries, farms and unique places to eat and shop along the way.

Mount Prevost towers over the community of Duncan. The mountain is easily identified by the two humps sitting on the peak of the mountain. Behind Mt. Prevost sits Mt. Sicker. - both mountains are a wilderness destination for hikers, mountain bikers, hang-gliding and ATV enthusiasts. A hike to the top of the lookout at Mt. Prevost gives a spectacular view over Duncan to the south, including the gulf islands. The rough dirt roads that wind around the mountain are active logging roads and respect for logging trucks is necessary. The history of Mount Sicker mining is all but lost. For more History... visit any of the links on this page and local museums.

Chemainus

The town of Chemainus is located between Crofton and Ladysmith, on the coast in what was originally named Horseshoe Bay Harbour. Chemainus is an active arts and cultural destination and home to many including actors and artists earning the town the title for being "The Little Town that Did".

Once a thriving mill town, Chemainus was forced to consider drastic measures when the mill shut down in 1983. It was then that the town rallied around the creative vision of resident and businessman Karl Schutz and a group of volunteers to create a new vision for the town centered around the Arts. To read the complete story of the Chemainus transformation from a mill town to an art mural and theatrical town, go here...

Today, the entire town of Chemainus is like a backdrop of a stage production with large-scale murals painted on most of the downtown buildings. Tourists that come to Vancouver Island flock here to visit the many antique, gift and souvenir shops, tour the town on a horse-driven carriage, enjoy ice cream at one of the local ice cream, and take in some local music at the popular The Dancing Bean Café. The Chemainus Theatre is a thriving entertainment centre for local stage productions and has a wonderful gift shop filled with the work of local artists. Make sure to experience the Playbill Dining Room when you take in the latest production.

There is plenty more to do in Chemainus, including the very popular yearly Giant Street Market and Art in the Park at Waterwheel Park both in July. Wait until the tides go out at the sandy beach at Kin Park and walk out to the lighthouse and do a little beach-combing, or launch your boat at the boat launch. For divers - explore Xihwu Reef the world's only Boeing 737 artificial reef, just off Kin Beach. Take the family for a swim at the popular Fuller Lake just before the exit to Chemainus on Highway 1. Hike the trails at the Chemainus River Provincial Park.

Be sure to take the scenic drive along the water from Chemainus to Ladysmith through Saltair and stop for a bite at the Saltair Neighbourhood Pub, catch a ball game at Saltair Centennial Park, or hike through Stocking Creek Park.

Gulf Islands: Thetis , Penelakut and Valdes

Few people realize that the CVRD also includes the southern gulf islands of Thetis, Penelakut (formerly Kuper) and Valdes.

Thetis Island is the smallest, least populated of the gulf islands (population 350). Among the homes and seasonal cabins of Thetis Island are three Christian organizations: Capernwray Harbour Bible School, Pioneer Pacific Camp and Camp Columbia. There are also a harbour, restaurant and pub, a small convenience store and at least one bed and breakfast. Thetis Island is also home to one of the only one room schoolhouses left in Canada. Thetis Island has regular vehicle ferry service. Valdes Island is across Porlier Pass from Galiano Island, which lies to the southeast. It has an area of 23 km2, and is 1.6 km wide by 16 km in length. The island is popular with kayakers and boaters. Wakes Cove Provincial Park and the Blackberry Point Campsite are located on the island. These two campsites, as well as an abundance of wildlife and unusual sandstone geology make this island a popular destination for recreational kayaking and camping. There is currently a small community of permanent residents on Valdes Island, located at Starvation Bay. One third of the island is set aside as three Indian Reserves of the Lyackson First Nation.

Penelakut Island belongs to the Penelakut First Nation. Penelakut has a population of about 300 members of the Penelakut Band. There is a Roman Catholic Church and a longhouse, but no commercial establishments on the island. The island has an area of 8.66 kmĀ². There is frequent car and passenger ferry service to Penelakut from Chemainus.

Crofton

Crofton is located along the coast between Duncan and Chemainus. It was founded in 1902 by Henry Croft, who owned the above-mentioned copper mine on Mt. Sicker. He built a smelter on the coast, to send the refined copper away. Crofton is best known today for the pulp and paper mill that operates by the shoreline and the ferry service that crosses the water to Saltspring Island. The Seawalk is a scenic walkway along the Crofton shoreline.

Genoa Bay

Some of the most beautiful scenery the Cowichan has to offer is the drive to Genoa Bay. Be sure to stop for a bite to eat at the dockside Genoa Bay Cafe by the Genoa Bay Marina. Enjoy the fine homes in our coastal community and if you are thinking of moving here make sure to check our STAY Guide for local Real Estate agents who can help you find the home of your dreams.

Maple Bay

From the highway in Duncan, venture East down Trunk Road to the seaside community of Maple Bay. Beautiful homes reside in the communities along the way and at the bottom of the hill you will see breathtaking views of Saltspring Island. Stop and take a walk along the beach, enjoy lunch at the Brigantine Inn or carry on back up the hill and along to the The Shipyard Restaurant and Pub http://www.shipyardrestaurant.com/ at the Maple Bay Marina. Throw your canoe in the water for a paddle.

Maple Bay is most famous for the annual n New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim where locals brave their souls in the frigid waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait.

An alternative scenic drive takes you to Cowichan Bay from Trunk Road - veer off at the round-about onto Tzouhalem Road and follow the country road past Providence Farm and all the way to Cowichan Bay.