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Chemainus

Chemainus, a small coastal town of 550, is located on Vancouver Island's east shore between a mountain range and the ocean. With a failing resource-based economy in the early 1980’s, the town decided to create giant outdoor murals to revitalize the town and increase tourism in the area. The strategy worked and Chemainus earned the nickname, “the little town that did.”

Arts and Culture

In 1982, the first five outdoor murals were painted and today there are over 35 murals and 11 sculptures. Interesting ways to see the murals include by trolley and horse-drawn carriage! During the last weekend in June, the annual summer-long Festival of Murals begins—enjoy outdoor theatre, puppetry, clowning, food booths, street music, folk dancing and arts and crafts demonstrations. 

At the Chemainus Theatre, the professional regional theatre company performs classics, musicals, comedies and contemporary favourites. The Chemainus Valley Museum is open year-round and is an interesting place to visit.

If you enjoy leisurely shopping, go hunting for antiques and collectibles. There are also plenty of gift shops and art galleries that display pottery, crafts and First Nations art. 

Getting to Chemainus

Chemainus is located south of Nanaimo and a one-hour drive north of Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway. 

  • By Vehicle: Drive on Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada Highway) and watch for the well-marked signs.
  • By Train: VIA Rail travels between Victoria and Courtenay.
  • By Bus: Coach lines operate between Victoria and Nanaimo.
Outdoor Adventure

Some of the many outdoor adventures in Chemainus include: fishing and swimming in Fuller Lake Park, picnicking in beautiful Waterwheel Park and relaxing at Clark Beach or Kin Beach. 

You may also want to visit the nearby Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the Pacific Coast flyway. Stroll along the boardwalk and pause at the viewing platform to see if you can spot some of the over 200 species of birds that have been identified at the marsh.

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British Columbia, Canada

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