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Duncan

Only a whistle-stop at William Duncan's farm in the 1880's, the coastal town of Duncan (population 4, 812) has transformed itself into the City of Totems Ėhand-carved cedar poles from local First Nations artisans overlook parks and downtown streets. Itís a walkable, people-friendly community. Downtown Duncan features a number of heritage and vintage buildings and a large array of small shops and restaurants.

Arts and Culture

There any many attractions to visit, but you might want to start by viewing some of Duncanís 80-odd totems. You can take a self-guided tour downtown and/or follow a half-kilometre section of the Trans-Canada Highway. In summer, there free guided tours.

Donít miss the Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre to enjoy exhibits, traditional foods, storytelling, and Cowichan artists and elders at work. The centreís mission is to share and build the pride of First Peoples through education, art, and traditional weaving, beading, spinning.

You may also want to visit the BC Forest Discovery Centre, which teaches the history of BCís forest industry with indoor and outdoor exhibits. Board the train that rides a trestle over Somenos Lakeóa great experience for kids and the young in spirit. Also visit the Freshwater Eco-Centre, adjacent to the Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery, which has over 30 displays depicting wild fish conservation, fisheries habitat protection and management practices. 

Getting to Duncan

Duncan is located in the Cowichan Valley of southern Vancouver Island, 60km north of Victoria.

  • By Vehicle: Drive on the Island Highway and watch for the well-marked signs. 
  • By Train: VIA Rail travels between Victoria and Courtenay and stops in Duncan. 
  • By Bus: Coach lines operate between Victoria and Nanaimo and will stop in Duncan. 
Thereís a lot of extra activity in the summer, so watch out for special seasonal tours of heritage homes, gardens, and artistsí studios. On Saturdays from April to the end of October, Duncan hosts a market in their City Square where you can enjoy an eclectic mix of vendors, artisans, entertainers and alternative and complimentary health practitioners. In July, Duncan also hosts an annual summer festival with two days of live entertainment, free rides, street performers, special promotions and contests, parades and more.

Outdoor Adventure

You can try sea kayaking, hiking, fishing and much more in the area! Donít miss the Cowichan River Provincial Park, a 750-hectare park that protects significant stretches of the Cowichan River, a Provincial Heritage River, internationally renowned for its wild salmon and steelhead fishery. You can walk along the river on the parkís historic 20km-long footpath and explore the restored 66-Mile and Holt Creek Trestles on the Trans-Canada Trail. If you enjoy watching birds visit nearby Somenos Marsh, a nature sanctuary in the Pacific Flyway that provides winter habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds.

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British Columbia, Canada

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