Duncan Cowichan Valley
Cowichan Valley
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Duncan Totem PolesDuncan is the Cowichan Valley's largest community, and known as the "City of Totems", with approximately 80 totem poles. Follow the yellow footprints, which start at the Cowichan Valley Museum for a self-guided tour of 41 totem poles. Free guided tours are also available.

Explore the area's aboriginal past at the Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre. The Centre offers visitors an authentic First Nations Experience - Interpretive Tours, Traditional Art Work and Native Food. Coast Salish art and genuine hand crafted Cowichan sweaters are featured, as well as native singing, dancing, drumming and a salmon BBQ from July to September. The Cowichan Valley Museum is located in the 1912 train station which has, on its roof, a 5-foot long replica of a steam locomotive. The museum details the history of the Duncan area with a collection of items, displays, turn-of-the-century furnishings, and a reconstructed general store and medical room.

The BC Forest Discovery Centre has grown to become one of Duncan's favourite attractions. Explore the 100-acre living museum featuring a train, playground and interpretive trails, an 1880s logging camp complete with two blacksmith shops and school. Visit the heritage sawmill and the antique vehicles building. The logging truck display on the Lower Grounds displays vehicles from as far back as 1890. Ride the train past the Restoration Shops and on your way back, be sure to check out the Lookout Tower and the Koksilah Ranger Station. Wander the Forester's Walks & the Somenos Trail and find the eagles' nest way up high. Enjoy a snack from the concession or picnic by the playground and stop by the gift shop for a great choice of mementos.

Every Saturday is Market day in downtown Duncan - from May 1st to October 30th in City Square. An eclectic mix of vendors, artisans, entertainers, alternative and complimentary health practitioners welcome visitors.

Attend a performance at the Cowichan Theatre, featuring entertainment ranging from dance to opera, the classics to jazz, pop to variety, to children's shows. Enjoy ongoing exhibitions of visual arts at the Gallery, programmed by the Cowichan Theatre and open to patrons for viewing during Theatre events.

Play a round of golf at one of several locations in the area, visit the first Canadian water buffalo dairy where tours are offered May through September or visit a working llama/alpaca ranch with a herd of over 200. A country store features handcrafted garments made from the luxurious fleece of the ranch herd.

Winding its way from Cowichan Lake to the salty waters of Cowichan Bay, the Cowichan River runs 47 kilometres (30 mi). This river has been the life blood of the Cowichan First Nations. In early spring carpets of wildflowers and abundant life in the river and rainforest compete for attention. Fall rains bring spawning salmon and an explosion of wild mushrooms.

The Malahat Drive

A second alternate route is to take the Malahat Drive past the scenic view points and turn off the highway to the right at the Bamberton Park Brentwood Ferry Road following the water's edge arriving in Mill Bay. The Village of Mill Bay is surrounded by beautiful parks and outdoor recreational activities. Overnight accommodations include Motels, Bed and Breakfasts, and RV Campsites. From Mill Bay drive north on Highway 1 or turn right at Kilmalu Road north of Mill Bay and follow the coastline past Arbutus Ridge through Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay, Crofton and Chemainus. Be sure if taking this alternate route to detour back to the highway at Cowichan Bay to visit the City of Totems, Duncan.

 Be sure to allow plenty of time on your Island visit in order to fully appreciate the serenity and beauty this region has to offer.

The Cowichan Valley boasts old growth parks, and The Cowichan River's fast-flowing waters challenge kayakers and white water canoeists in winter months. Summer snorkellers explore deep pools in the whispering warm waters of the lake-fed river, while tubers drift long leisurely runs and swimmers paddle the still pools or thrust themselves upstream.

From spring wildflowers to winter eagles, photographers and birding enthusiasts will find delight in the potential of their surroundings.

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