Category   Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC
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Native Heritage mural by Paul Ygartua celebrates the Cowichan people, the First Nation of Cowichan Valley
"The Little Town That Did" earned its nickname after Chemainus residents decided to expand their forest industry past into a vibrant tourism-driven future. Through the dreams, imagination and energy of the community, the little town of Chemainus found a new life by putting on a new face. The town transformed itself - capturing and expressing its history, its people and its future.

Artists from around the globe were invited to paint huge heritage murals on the sides of buildings, transforming a small coastal mill town into the world's largest outdoor art gallery.

Population: 4,000

Location: Chemainus is located south of Nanaimo and one hour north of Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway. Cassidy Airport is 20 minutes to the north and the town is also serviced by coach lines between Victoria and Nanaimo. A more spectacular route to travel is via the Esquimault and Nanaimo railway, which stops at Chemainus. The train passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada and provides panoramic views of the Gulf Islands.

  • In 1982, the first five murals were created - today there are 41 murals and 13 sculptures, attracting over 400,000 annual visitors to Chemainus.

  • Chemainus Theatre, Vancouver Island, BC
    Chemainus Theatre, the Playbill Dining Room and The Gallery gift shop are all under one roof! The Chemainus Theatre, a professional regional theatre company, features classics, musicals, comedies, and contemporary favourites.
  • In summer 2002 Chemainus claimed 'independence' as the Commonwealth of Chemainus, with a Festival of Independence held to celebrate the marketing occasion. The flag colours are green, blue and brown - symbolizing the forest, sea and farmland - and the official animal on the flag is the unicorn. Residents and visitors can become citizens of the new state, with passports available by donation from the Visitor Information Centre and many of the shops in downtown Chemainus.
  • A small car and passenger ferry runs from downtown Chemainus to nearby Thetis Island and Kuper Island, home of the Penelakut First Nation.

  • The ice cream parlour on Willow Street in Chemainus features Sandy Clark's mural of Billy Thomas, the first European born in the valley, who lived to be 102 years old
    One cannot truly experience Chemainus without sampling one of their legendary ice cream cones.
  • Around each corner is a dealer in antiques and collectibles. Gift shops and art galleries abound, offering some of the Island's best pottery and native and local artworks.
  • Fish or swim in Fuller Lake Park...just three minutes from downtown Chemainus.
  • Visitors can find a quiet spot in beautiful Waterwheel Park, located across from the Visitor Info Centre.
  • The Weyerhauser Mill is another unique attraction. This new high-tech mill is smaller but more efficient than its predecessor. It makes wood to order, and is able to extract the highest grade of lumber from every piece. You can watch the entire process at work.
  • If you're looking for a relaxing day on the beach, visit Clark Beach or Kin Beach.
  • The Chemainus Valley Museum provides "safe harbour" for the artifacts and archives of Chemainus history. The museum is operated by volunteers through the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, and is open year-round.
  • On the last weekend in June, take part in the annual "Festival of Murals", the celebration continues through the summer with outdoor theatre, puppetry, clowning, food booths, street music, folk dancing, arts and crafts demonstrations, and an annual giant swap meet.
  • A great way to see the murals is to board a trolley for a heritage tour through Chemainus, via horse-drawn carriage or follow the footprints for a self-guided tour to view the world's largest outdoor gallery.
  • Golf: Mount Brenton Golf Club on Henry Road in Chemainus is a challenging par-71 golf course, with tree-lined fairways and spectacular greens. Open year round. Golf Vacations on Vancouver Island.
  • For the passionate diver there are limitless opportunities for exploration around Vancouver Island. Explore Xihwu Reef the worlds only Boeing 737 artificial reef, just off Kin Beach.
  • Just to the north of Duncan, approximately 15 Km south of Chemainus on the Island Highway, is the home of the B.C. Forestry Museum. This is an extensive display covering several acres of wooded land and boasts its own working logging road. The main power for this operation is a refurbished Shay locomotive. Besides locomotives, there are many other pieces of early forestry equipment, including a Ruston steam road roller in full working order and looking "like the day it left the factory" in England.
  • Adjacent to the B.C. Forestry Museum on the Island Highway, is the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge. Somenos Lake is part of the Pacific Coast flyway, where thousands of birds cut in from Cowichan through Somenos Marsh, up the Cowichan Valley, and over to the west side of Vancouver Island. Over 200 species of birds have been identified on the Marsh, which has a boardwalk and nature viewing platform. The Great Blue Heron Festival is held at Somenos Marsh, and over 300 members are currently committed to keeping this wondrous resource as pristine as possible for future generations.

Search Premier Listings
  Best Western PLUS Chemainus Inn, Chemainus Listing Details 
The Best Western PLUS Chemainus Inn is a top choice hotel amongst Vancouver Island accommodations. Large, well-appointed suite-style hotel rooms offer premium comfort to suit all your needs during your holiday or corporate stay. Discover our tranquil seaside village with its historic murals, dedicated arts community, arts festivals, and the famous Chemainus Theatre, or enjoy secluded beaches, great golfing, hiking, kayaking, and scuba diving.
  Chemainus Garden Holiday Resort, Chemainus Listing Details 
Chemainus Garden Holiday Resort is an RV Resort with Park Model Homes set amidst Vancouver Island's natural beauty in Chemainus, offering the special experience of an unspoiled British Columbia paradise and a world-class recreational resort. The 34-acre RV resort is nestled among large fir and cedar trees, enhanced by ponds and manicured gardens. Wander through winding trials, woodland and wildlife habitat. Stay for one night, a week, a month, or as you desire for your vacation lifestyle.
  Deb Wilson RI (BC) - Sutton West Coast Realty, Duncan Listing Details 
Looking for an island home in the southern Gulf Islands or mid Vancouver Island? As an RI professional member with a strong background in real estate appraisal, development and construction, combined with local resident knowledge, my goal is to provide you with comprehensive real estate solutions combined with service that is performance based. Now is a good time to be purchasing, with lots of the waterfront island homes on the market.
  EMR Vacation Rentals, Vancouver Listing Details 
EMR is a fully licensed Travel Agency offering fully furnished vacation homes, condos, suites, and estates in Victoria, Vancouver, Tofino, Whistler, the Okanagan, and on Vancouver Island. We have a large inventory of unique properties to select from. This includes properties that feature oceanfront, beach front, breathtaking views, private hot tubs, luxurious settings and more. Toll Free: 0-800-520-0932 UK.

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Chemainus by Goody Niosi
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