Cowichan Bay, British Columbia


Cowichan Bay, British Columbia

Cowichan Bay (Cow Bay) is a bay and community located near Duncan, in British Columbia. The mouth of the Cowichan River is near Cowichan Bay. The bay is known for its fishing and scenic value. The area's main industries are fishing and tourism.

For many thousands of years Cowichan Bay was home to First Nations people who harvested the wealth of salmon and shellfish found in its many coves, tidal flats and swiftly flowing rivers.

Cowichan Bay was the gateway for European settlement of the Cowichan and Chemainus valleys from the early 1860's. A steamer service from Victoria was the major link for goods and people before the coming of the railway.

Bypassed by the Esquimalt and Nanaimo line and later by the Island Highway, Cowichan Bay nevertheless was a thriving little community, based on sport and commercial salmon fishing, and log and lumber exports.

That former economic base is declining but being replaced with more recreational water activities, a revived interest in boatbuilding, an appreciation for the history and ecology of the Bay, and tourism.

From the early 1900's Cowichan Bay attracted sportsmen from all over the British Empire for superb salmon fishing in the Bay and the Cowichan and Koksilah rivers. It was, for a time, the Salmon Capital of the World offering not just fishing, but fine sailing waters, an annual regatta and, next to Wimbledon, the oldest grass tennis courts in the world.

Cowichan Bay services are provided by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, with fire protection provided by the Cowichan Bay Improvement District which operates Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue.

The village of Cowichan Bay is a tourist attraction in the summer because of its cozy fishing-village feel. The community began a transformation in 2004 when Jonathan Knight opened True Grain Bread, a European inspired bakery at the centre of the seaside village. His organic breads and pretzels and a focus on local and sustainable business practices quickly made a name for the bakery and the community. His success spawned other businesses to open in the bay; Radway Studios, an organic clothing store; Hilary's Cheese, a local-made cheese shop; The Udder Guys, an old-style homemade ice-cream parlour; The Masthead, an upscale restaurant that serves delicious local foods; Mudworks, a pottery shop run by a local artisan; as well as many other eateries and knick-knack shops. Cowichan Bay offers visitors a chance to see their impressive wildlife through kayak tours and rentals and whalewatching tours. Depending on the time of year it is not uncommon to see bald eagles, seals, herons or other wildlife in the area.

In July 2009, Cowichan Bay became Canada and North America's first Cittaslow community.

Notable residents

  • James Dunsmuir - Former Premier and Lieutenant-Governor of BC
  • Robert William Service - Poet
  • Jerry Joyce - Teacher, logger, story teller.
  • Arthur Vickers (artist) - Artist, story teller.

External links

Coordinates: 48°45′N 123°36′W / 48.75°N 123.6°W / 48.75; -123.6


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