Discover Duncan, British Columbia: A City Rich in History and Culture

Duncan, British Columbia, a city on southern Vancouver Island, is the smallest city by area in Canada. Despite its size, Duncan serves as a hub for the Cowichan Valley, which boasts a population of approximately 84,000. This article explores the history, demographics, and attractions of Duncan, British Columbia.

Location of Duncan, British Columbia

Duncan is situated about 45 kilometres from both Victoria to the south and Nanaimo to the north. Although the city itself has a population of just over 5,000, it serves the Cowichan Valley, which has a much larger population. Many residents of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes use "Duncan" as their mailing address. The city has one seat on the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board. The name Cowichan is an Anglicization of Halkomelem Quw̓utsun̓, which means "the warm land".

Transportation in Duncan, British Columbia

Duncan is served by the Trans-Canada Highway, which connects the city to points north and south. British Columbia Highway 18 connects Duncan to the town of Lake Cowichan to the west. The Island Rail Corridor railway line still passes through Duncan, although trains have long since stopped running on it. Public transit is provided in conjunction between BC Transit and the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System, offering connections to surrounding communities and regular commuter bus service to Victoria. The Nanaimo Regional Transit System provides daily bus service between Duncan and Nanaimo, including a stop at the Nanaimo Airport.

The History of Duncan, British Columbia

Duncan is named after William Chalmers Duncan, who settled close to the present city. His son Kenneth became the first Mayor of Duncan. The city was incorporated on March 4, 1912, after a vote was held to make Duncan a distinct city. In the early 1900s, Duncan's Chinatown was the social centre for the Cowichan Valley's Chinese population. The city was also noted in coverage related to the 1985 bombings at Narita Airport in Japan and aboard Air India Flight 182.

Demographics of Duncan, British Columbia

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Duncan had a population of 5,047 living in 2,454 of its 2,620 total private dwellings, a change of 2.1% from its 2016 population of 4,944.

Attractions in Duncan, British Columbia

Duncan is known for one of the largest totem pole collections and was officially named "City of Totems" in 1985. The Cowichan Historical Society provides free totem tours in the summer months. Duncan has a large Indigenous community and is the traditional home of the Cowichan Tribes, who are the largest band among the Coast Salish people. The Cowichan Community Centre, located in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of North Cowichan, serves all citizens in the Cowichan Valley Regional District and houses the world's largest hockey stick.

Climate of Duncan, British Columbia

According to the Köppen climate classification, Duncan has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate.