Chemainus Travel Guide: Things to Do in Chemainus, British Columbia

Chemainus is a small community located on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is known for its rich history, beautiful scenery, and vibrant arts scene.

One of the most unique features of Chemainus is its collection of more than 40 large outdoor murals, which tell the story of the town’s history and cultural heritage. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the murals, learning about the town’s past and admiring the beautiful artwork.

In addition to the murals, Chemainus is also home to a thriving arts community, with a number of galleries, studios, and theaters showcasing the talents of local artists and performers. The Chemainus Theatre Festival is a highlight of the town’s cultural calendar and features a variety of live performances and shows.

Beyond its arts scene, Chemainus offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, with hiking and biking trails, kayaking and paddleboarding, and fishing and swimming in the nearby ocean and rivers. The town is also close to several beautiful parks and natural areas, including Mount Prevost and the Cowichan Valley.

Overall, Chemainus is a charming and welcoming town that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring the arts scene, getting active in the outdoors, or simply soaking up the town’s friendly and relaxed atmosphere, Chemainus is definitely worth a visit.

Chemainus Travel Guide: Things to do in Chemainus, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada including visiting the town sign

Chemanius Travel Guide: A Brief History Of Chemanius, BC

The town of Chemainus has a rich and fascinating history, with roots that stretch back thousands of years to the indigenous Coast Salish people who first inhabited the area. For centuries, these First Nations peoples lived off the land, fishing and hunting along the coast and in the surrounding forests.

The town’s name, “Chemainus,” is derived from the indigenous word “Tsa-meeun-is,” which means “broken chest”.

In the late 1800s, the area around Chemainus saw an influx of European settlers who were drawn to the region’s natural resources, including timber and minerals. In the early 1900s, the town became a hub of the logging industry, with several sawmills and other related businesses operating in the area.

However, by the 1980s, the town’s fortunes had begun to decline as the logging industry struggled and many of the mills were forced to close. In response to this economic downturn, the town’s residents came up with a unique idea to revitalize the community: they would commission a series of large outdoor murals depicting the town’s history and culture.

The Chemainus Mural Project, as it came to be known, was launched in 1982 and quickly became a huge success. The murals, painted on the sides of buildings throughout the town, depicted scenes from the town’s indigenous history, its early European settlement, and its more recent industrial past. Today, the Chemainus Murals are recognized as one of the town’s main attractions and draw visitors from all over the world.

In addition to the mural project, the town has also become known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, studios, and theaters showcasing the work of local artists and performers. Today, Chemainus is a thriving and vibrant community, with a rich cultural heritage and a strong sense of pride in its past and present.

Chemainus mural of the First Nations people

Chemainus Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in British Columbia

Situated on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, the charming town of Chemainus boasts a rich history, vibrant arts scene, and stunning natural beauty.

Visitors to this picturesque community can explore the town’s most famous attraction, the Chemainus Murals, which showcase large outdoor paintings depicting the town’s fascinating history and culture.

The town also hosts an annual theatre festival, which brings a variety of live performances and shows to the beautifully restored theatre.

For those seeking a peaceful retreat, Waterwheel Park offers a serene setting complete with a working waterwheel, playground, and picnic areas.

Saltair Beach, located just south of Chemainus, provides a beautiful sandy beach where visitors can bask in the sun, swim in the ocean, and enjoy stunning views of the nearby mountains.

Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the scenic Mount Brenton Golf Course, which is known for its challenging layout, well-maintained greens, and breathtaking views.

Visitors can also explore the Chemainus Valley Museum, which features a collection of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the town’s history.

For those looking to indulge in the region’s culinary delights, the Cowichan Valley offers a variety of award-winning wineries and vineyards, making it a popular destination for wine lovers.

With its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Chemainus is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Vancouver Island.

Chemainus memories of a Chinese boy mural found outside of a parking lot

Top 10 Things To Do in Chemainus, Canada For Visitors

here are the top 10 things to do in Chemainus:

  1. Take a Walking Tour of the Chemainus Murals: Explore the town’s famous outdoor murals, which tell the story of Chemainus’s fascinating history and culture.
  2. Attend the Chemainus Theatre Festival: Enjoy live performances and shows at the beautifully restored theatre.
  3. Visit Waterwheel Park: Relax in the peaceful surroundings of this picturesque park, complete with a working waterwheel, playground, and picnic areas.
  4. Explore Saltair Beach: Swim, sunbathe, and picnic at this stunning sandy beach with views of the ocean and nearby mountains.
  5. Play Golf at Mount Brenton Golf Course: Enjoy a round of golf at this scenic 18-hole golf course with breathtaking views.
  6. Learn about the town’s history at the Chemainus Valley Museum: Discover the town’s history through a collection of artifacts and exhibits.
  7. Take a Cowichan Valley Wine Tour: Sample award-winning wines at several wineries and vineyards in the picturesque Cowichan Valley.
  8. Hike the Chemainus River Trail: Enjoy a leisurely hike along the picturesque Chemainus River, surrounded by lush forest and wildlife.
  9. Visit the St. Michael’s and All Angels Anglican Church: Marvel at the stunning stained glass windows and Gothic architecture of this historic church.
  10. Take a day trip to nearby attractions: Explore nearby destinations such as the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, the Duncan Farmers’ Market, or the historic Kinsol Trestle.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor activities, or just taking in the scenic beauty of the region, Chemainus offers plenty of options for visitors to enjoy.

Chemainus mural of hardworking construction on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tours For Visitors To Chemainus, Vancouver Island

There are several tours available for visitors to Chemainus, each offering a unique way to experience the town and surrounding region. Here are some of the most popular tours:

  1. Chemainus Murals Walking Tour: This tour is a must-do for visitors to Chemainus, as it provides an in-depth look at the town’s famous outdoor murals. A knowledgeable guide will lead you through the town’s streets, sharing stories and information about each mural’s history and significance.
  2. Cowichan Valley Wine Tour: This tour takes visitors on a scenic journey through the beautiful Cowichan Valley, known for its award-winning wineries and vineyards. Guests can sample a variety of wines and learn about the wine-making process from local experts.
  3. Kayak Tours: Explore the waters surrounding Chemainus on a guided kayak tour, which offers stunning views of the coast and nearby islands. Tours are available for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.
  4. Wildlife Tours: Discover the region’s diverse wildlife on a guided wildlife tour, which may include sightings of eagles, whales, sea lions, and other marine animals. Expert guides will provide information about the region’s ecology and natural history.
  5. Hiking Tours: The Chemainus River Valley offers several scenic hiking trails, and guided tours are available for visitors who want to explore the area’s natural beauty while learning about its history and ecology.
  6. Photography Tours: Chemainus and the surrounding region offer many opportunities for stunning photographs, and photography tours are available for visitors who want to capture the area’s unique beauty.

With so many tours available, visitors to Chemainus are sure to find one that fits their interests and schedule. Whether you want to learn about the town’s history, explore its natural beauty, or taste its delicious wines, there is a tour for you.

Scenic Vancouver Island views of forests overlooking the water

Day Trips From Chemainus, Canada

While Chemainus itself is a charming and interesting destination, there are also several nearby attractions that are worth exploring. Here are some popular day trips from Chemainus:

  1. Duncan: The small city of Duncan is just a short drive from Chemainus and is known for its charming downtown area, local shops, and the famous Duncan Farmers’ Market. The market takes place every Saturday and features local produce, handmade crafts, and live entertainment.
  2. Cowichan Bay: This picturesque fishing village is just a 20-minute drive from Chemainus and offers visitors a chance to see working boats, shop in local boutiques and galleries, and dine in waterfront restaurants.
  3. Shawnigan Lake: This beautiful lake is located just a short drive from Chemainus and offers visitors the opportunity to swim, paddleboard, and kayak. There are also several hiking trails in the area, including the Kinsol Trestle, a historic railway trestle that is now part of a scenic hiking trail.
  4. Ladysmith: This small town is known for its heritage buildings, charming downtown area, and beautiful waterfront park. Visitors can explore the town’s history at the Ladysmith Museum or enjoy a scenic walk along the waterfront.
  5. Nanaimo: This bustling city is located just a 30-minute drive from Chemainus and offers a wide range of attractions, including the famous Nanaimo Bar Trail, a scenic waterfront walkway, and the Nanaimo Museum.

With so many nearby destinations to explore, visitors to Chemainus can easily spend a day or more exploring the surrounding region. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty of Vancouver Island, there is something for everyone.

Visit Victoria to have afternoon tea at the Butchart Gardens after spending time in Chemainus

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Chemainus?

After your trip to Chemainus, there are several other destinations on Vancouver Island that are worth visiting. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Victoria: The capital city of British Columbia is just a 90-minute drive from Chemainus and is known for its beautiful gardens, historic architecture, and vibrant arts scene. Must-see attractions include the famous Butchart Gardens, the Royal BC Museum, and the Inner Harbour.
  2. Tofino: This popular destination on the west coast of Vancouver Island is known for its stunning beaches, rugged coastline, and world-class surfing. Visitors can explore the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, take a whale watching tour, or relax in the town’s hot springs.
  3. Parksville-Qualicum Beach: These neighbouring communities on the east coast of Vancouver Island offer miles of sandy beaches, charming downtown areas, and plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and golfing.
  4. Port Alberni: This picturesque town is located in the heart of Vancouver Island and offers visitors a chance to explore the region’s logging history at the Alberni Valley Museum or take a scenic train ride through the mountains on the Alberni Pacific Railway.
  5. Campbell River: This coastal city is known for its world-class salmon fishing, as well as its stunning natural beauty. Visitors can explore the Discovery Passage Aquarium, take a wildlife tour to see bears and eagles, or hike to the Elk Falls Provincial Park.
  6. Comox Valley: This scenic region on the east coast of Vancouver Island is known for its beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and vibrant arts scene. Visitors can explore the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, take a tour of the local wineries, or go skiing at Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
  7. Gold River: This remote town on the west coast of Vancouver Island is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, including fishing, kayaking, and hiking. Visitors can also explore the nearby Strathcona Provincial Park, which offers stunning mountain vistas and alpine lakes.
  8. Tahsis: This small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island is known for its excellent fishing and abundant wildlife, including bears and eagles. Visitors can take a guided tour of the area or explore the nearby Nootka Island, which is home to historic First Nations sites and a lighthouse.
  9. Port Alice: This small community on the north end of Vancouver Island is known for its stunning coastal scenery and abundance of wildlife, including whales, dolphins, and sea lions. Visitors can explore the nearby Marble River Provincial Park, which offers hiking trails and beautiful waterfalls.
  10. Port Hardy: This coastal town on the northern tip of Vancouver Island is known for its stunning scenery, including the nearby Cape Scott Provincial Park and the Broughton Archipelago. Visitors can take a wildlife tour to see whales, bears, and eagles, or explore the town’s history at the Port Hardy Museum.

With so many destinations to explore, a trip to Chemainus can be just the beginning of a memorable adventure on Vancouver Island. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, cultural attractions, or simply enjoying the stunning scenery, there is something for everyone.

Fascinating mural found in Chemainus, BC, Canada

Chemainus Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Chemainus is a charming and unique destination on Vancouver Island that offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the region’s rich cultural history. From the famous murals that adorn the town’s buildings to the world-class live theatre productions, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Chemainus.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the town’s art galleries, enjoying a relaxing day at the beach, or taking a scenic drive through the surrounding countryside, Chemainus is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. And with so many other attractions and destinations to explore on Vancouver Island, a trip to Chemainus can be just the beginning of a memorable adventure in this stunning part of the world.

So if you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience, consider adding Chemainus to your itinerary. With its friendly locals, beautiful scenery, and rich cultural heritage, it’s sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.

source: Camping with clammi on YouTube

In Chemainus town, There’s magic all around, Mural after mural, An art lover’s playground.

The history comes alive, In the live theatre they thrive, A charming little gem, With surprises to derive.

A stroll down the street, A melody to greet, A place that will entice, With every single beat.

The beach, the forest, The murals and the rest, A journey to the past, A trip that will be blessed.

So come and visit soon, You won’t regret this boon, Chemainus awaits you, With its charm like a boon.

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