on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, Chemainus has long been
a popular tourist destination, but it is also a great place to
live, play and do business. Entertaining, relaxing and tranquil,
Chemainus is a favourite destination for family fun and romantic
getaways alike. It is an artistic community that boasts a unique
mix of gift shops, antique malls, art galleries, boutiques, specialty
shops, cafes and restaurants. Big draws to the community are the
42 historical murals detailing the history of the town along with
the 274 seat Chemainus Theatre, exciting town festivals, local
attractions and a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor adventure.
the 1850s, the burgeoning logging industry on Vancouver Island
was beginning to demand more extraction and processing ability
than was currently available on the largely unsettled central
island. In response, the town of Chemainus was settled in 1858
in order to provide support for the logging industry in the area.
The sawmill, which was to operate for more than 100 years, was
completed in 1862, and Chemainus quickly became the hub of log
processing on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
ability to strip, cut, stack, and ship the boards out of one town
was unprecedented on Vancouver Island, and by 1920, over 600 people
lived in the town. As lumber exports from Canada became more popular,
the industry continued to grow. The Chemainus Mill operated at
capacity for much of the early 20th century, with reductions in
capacity occurring while many men took part in WWI and WWII. By
the time the Second World War finished, the mill was over 80 years
old, and was showing its age. More modern mills had been built
in the area, and production in Chemainus was declining. Despite
this, the sawmill continued to run, still providing the majority
of the employment in the community of now over a thousand people.
1983, after more than 120 years of operation, the mill shut down
for good, leaving the century old town without a primary industry
or employer. Houses went up for sale, and people began to leave
the town, but some quick thinking on the part of the community
and town council resulted in a one of a kind investment project.
Chemainus commissioned artists to paint the history of the town
on the walls of the buildings, the largest mural painting project
undertaken in Canada at one time. The murals, still being completed
to this day, turned the potential ghost town into a bustling tourist
attraction, and they are now known worldwide.
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Duncan is 60 km (37 mi.) north of Victoria on Highway #1.
Chemainus can be reached by car, Greyhound Bus, Ferries (Victoria
& Nanaimo), Planes (Nanaimo) and soon to be operating (2013) E
& N train.
Facilities & Activies: Hiking and biking, golf, swimming,
kayaking, fishing, boating, diving (on the only deliberately sunk
B737), picnicking, mushroom foraging, island hopping, camping,
clubs and parks.
There is professional live theatre year round at the Chemainus
Festival Theatre, galleries, a pottery shop, local artisans
Events: Professional Live Theatre, Arts and Ethnic Festival,
ArtBeat walk, art and music, Weekly open mic at the Willow St
Café, Tuesday night Music in the Parks, Wednesday Farmers Market,
Summerfest, Canada Day celebrations, Giant Street Market in July,
Bluegrass Festival, Accordion Festival, Jazz in the park, Music
at St Michael's Church, Remembrance Day celebration, Christmas
walking tour, Chemainus Festival of Trees, Chemainus Little Town
Christmas, Annual Legion Twilight 5km shuffle, Strawberry Tea
at St Michael's.
There is in town a Best Western Suite Hotel with many amenities
along with lots of lovely B & B's. Some with separate suites.
There is also a camping and RV facility. Up on the highway, 5
minutes away from town there is a motel and more RV and camping