Discover Cowichan Bay, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Tourism
Overview of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
Cowichan Bay is a picturesque community nestled on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island, near Duncan, in British Columbia, Canada. The bay, known for its fishing and scenic value, is located near the mouth of the Cowichan River. To the north, Mount Tzouhalem stands tall, offering hiking trails and an ecological reserve. The area's main industries are fishing and tourism, with the nearby Island Highway and Island Rail Corridor providing easy access.
First Nation History of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
For thousands of years, Cowichan Bay was home to First Nations people who thrived on the abundance of salmon and shellfish found in its coves, tidal flats, and swiftly flowing rivers. A rare steatite anthropomorphic bowl, discovered in the late nineteenth century and believed to originate from the Marpole Culture (400 BC-400 AD), was found here. This artifact, one of only about 50 known, is now part of the British Museum's collection.
European Settlement in Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
From the early 1860s, Cowichan Bay served as the gateway for European settlement of the Cowichan and Chemainus valleys. A steamer service from Victoria was the primary link for goods and people before the advent of the railway. Despite being bypassed by the Esquimalt and Nanaimo line and later by the Island Highway, Cowichan Bay flourished as a community, with its economy rooted in sport and commercial salmon fishing, and log and lumber exports. In the early 1900s, the bay attracted sportsmen from across the British Empire for its superb salmon fishing and fine sailing waters. It was even known as the Salmon Capital of the World for a time.
Tourism in Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
The village of Cowichan Bay transforms into a bustling tourist attraction during the summer, thanks to its charming fishing-village ambiance. The community's transformation began in 2004 when Jonathan Knight opened True Grain Bread, a European-inspired bakery. His organic breads, pretzels, and sustainable business practices quickly put both the bakery and the community on the map. This success led to the opening of other businesses, including Radway Studios, Hilary's Cheese, The Udder Guys, The Masthead, and The Mud Room Clayworks. Visitors to Cowichan Bay can enjoy a variety of activities, from kayak tours and whale watching to exploring local eateries and shops. Depending on the season, it's not uncommon to spot bald eagles, seals, herons, and other wildlife in the area.
South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club in Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
The South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1887, is one of the oldest lawn tennis clubs in the world and the oldest in Canada. This historic club adds to the rich tapestry of Cowichan Bay's history, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and tennis enthusiasts alike.