Cowichan Valley Regional District

Although the City of Duncan has a population of just under 5000, it serves the Cowichan Valley which has a population of approximately 80,000, many of whom live in North Cowichan. This gives Duncan a much larger population than that contained within the city limits. People in areas of North Cowichan bordering on Duncan usually use “Duncan” as their mailing address.

Communities in this area include Duncan, Lake Cowichan, Cowichan Bay, Cowichan Station, Maple Bay, Crofton, Chemainus, Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay, and Ladysmith.


The region is home to many highly talented painters, potters, sculptors, weavers, jewellers, glass blowers, knitters and carvers whose works can be seen in home studios and galleries all along the Cowichan Valley corridor. There are also many musicians and music festivals throughout the year, with musical styles to suit just about any taste.

The Cowichan or Quw’utsun’ First Nations art and culture are prominent and seen in local totem poles, carvings as well as in the designs of the world famous Cowichan sweaters. More recently, settlers were active in mining, logging and farming – and you’ll find a number of museums and points of interest that reflect this rich industrial past, as well as the stunning scenery of this area.

Visitor Attractions

The Cowichan Valley is the home of a growing number of vineyards and wineries.  The warm, dry summers and mild, moist winters make this area part of Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climate, providing good growing conditions for many grape varietals.

BC Forest Discovery Centre: At the BC Forest Discovery Centre, a stroll around the grounds will quickly transform one into an exciting, educational experience. With many exhibits for the whole family, there is always something new to explore. Let one of our historic trains take you on a tour around our 100-acre wooded site!

Chemainus Murals: From just five murals and lots of spirit in the summer of 1982, Chemainus has struggled, grown and succeeded in literally putting itself on the map. Over 40 larger-than-life historic paintings in this open air gallery and many statues now greet the gaze of hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Chemainus Theatre: Chemainus Theatre Society is a professional regional company that entertains, and touches the heart. Your theatre experience can begin with live musical entertainment in the elegant Playbill Dining Room where our Executive Chef has prepared an impressive hot and cold buffet.

Cowichan Bay Village: This scenic coastal village is bustling with activities of all sorts. Cowichan Bay is home to some unique and attractive shops and accommodations.

Kinsol Trestle: The Kinsol Trestle is one of the tallest free-standing and most spectacular timber rail trestles in the world. It is one of the few accessible and visible reminders of the early mining and logging industries on Vancouver Island, as well as offering spectacular views of the Koksilah River and trails for hiking, running, cycling and riding. Thirty years after the last train crossed the Kinsol Trestle, a fundraising campaign was launched to rehabilitate the trestle to its former glory and close the last link in the Cowichan Valley portion of the Trans Canada Trail.

The Raptor Centre: Join us and marvel at the power and agility of Eagles, Hawks, Falcons & Owls as they fly to the falconer’s glove during our daily flying demonstrations. Learn about their fabulous survival strategies on our guided tours and hawk walks.

Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre: The Centre offers all guests an authentic First Nations Experience – Interpretive Tours, Traditional Art Work and Native Food. See and learn traditions still practiced by the local First Nations people today. Duncan area.

Totem Tours:
Current statistics show that Downtown Duncan’s biggest draw to visiting tourists is its totem poles. It is for this reason that there are free guided walking tours of the totems in the downtown area.

Ladysmith Maritime Society: The Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina is located in the protected Ladysmith Harbour, minutes away from downtown Ladysmith. The Marina is a gathering place for locals and visitors on our picnic dock beside the floating Maritime History Museum. We offer Harbour tours, host the Ladysmith Maritime festival and sailing programs for the disabled.

Whippletree Junction: Historic Whippletree Junction is a thriving shopping centre and attraction that appeals to visitors and locals alike. You will find a diverse selection of goods, outstanding customer service and interesting history. 30 years ago it started as a collection of buildings that were rescued from demolition, now it is an exciting shopping and historic experience. Open year round.

Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre: Experience the natural and human history of the Cowichan Watershed. Displays, activities, and programs for children and adults connect visitors to the plants, birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates who live where the Cowichan River meets the sea.

Local Schools

Vancouver Island University has a regional campus in Duncan that offers a Bachelor of Education degree as well as programs and courses in university transfer, access, trades and applied technology, health and human services, and career and academic preparation. The campus also has a Continuing Education department that offers certificate programs, personal and professional development courses, and online courses.