250-244-1821
Photo by: Rick McCharles

Chemainus

The tenacious community of Chemainus re-imagined their forest industr’s past into a fresh tourism-driven future. Chemainus, through the creativity, energy, and determination of its residents, found a new life by putting a new face on its murals.

In Chemainus you can find a dealer of antiques and collectibles at every corners. Renowned artists from all around the globe are invited to paint murals on the sides of buildings. Art galleries, gift shops are numerous, offering some of the best pottery from the island.

Fast Facts

The population
is made of
4000 citizens.

South of Nanaimo, and one hour north Victoria on Trans-Canada Highway you can find Chemainus. The Cassidy Airport can be found 20 minutes to the north. Mesmerizing views can be found when traveling by Esquimault or Nanaimo railway.

Local Attractions

A great place to fish or swim is in the Fuller Lake Park, which can be found just three minutes from downtown Chemainus.

Located across the Visitor Centre lies Waterwheel Park, visitors often come here to relax, as they find it quiet and beautiful.

Weyerhauser Mill, a new high-tech mill is another unique attraction for tourists. There you can see how residents mill wood to order. You can watch the whole process at work.

Clark Beach or Kin Beach are good places to visit when you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach.

For a tour of Cheimainus history visit the Cheimainus Valley Museum. Here you can view many artifacts and archives of Cheimanus. Voluteers from Cheimainus Valley Historical Society help operate the museum.

The Cheimainus Theatre is a professional regional theatre company; it features comedies, musicals, classics and contemporary favorites. Moreover, under the same roof, you can also find the Playbill Dining Room and The Gallery gift shop.

The Festival of Independence is held annually to symbolize the summer of 2002, when Chemainus claimed independence as the Commonwealth of Chemainus. The flag colors are green, blue and brown—they symbolize forest, sea and farmland. The official animal on the flag is the unicorn.

To fully experience Chemainus, try one of their legendary ice cream cones!

Outdoor Activities

 A challenging par-71 golf course, with tree-lined fairways and astonishing greens, can be found on Mount Brenton Golf Club on Henry Road. It is open all year round.

Plenty of exploration opportunities are available for the passionate driver. One attraction for tourists is Xihwu Reef, an artificial reef just off Kin Beach. In 2006, January 13th, a Boeing 737 aircraft was sunk off the coast in order to create the reef structure. The event was documented in an episode of Discovery Channel Series called Mega Builder. The episode is called ‘Sinking Wings’.

Fun Things To Do:

Year-round schedule of comedies, musicals and dramas are held at Chemainus Theatre Festival. Playbill Dining Room offers some amazing authentic meals.  

Music makes Downtown Chemainus alive during the summer. The ArtBeat series on four Friday nights hosts street performers, artists, and food vendors. Waterwheel Park’s bandshell is a home base for jazz festivals. 

Chemainus Dollars is the town’s own colorful and highly collective currency. You can use them to shop at quaint downtown boutiques or just keep this collectible as a souvenir.  

Local food, produce, art and crafts are featured at Chemainus Wednesday Market that takes place early June to late September.

In the mid-July, annually, the town hosts a huge street market. There are more than 120 vendors, selling everything from collectables, clothing and art to tasty food, handmade crafts and special deals for local businesses.

Museum and Wildlife Refuge

Museum

The B.C Forestry Museum spans several acres of forested land and has a working logging road. Shay locomotive is the main power for this operation.
Here you will find other pieces of antique forestry equipment, such as Ruston steam road roller in great shape. The forestry museum lies just north of Duncan, approximately 15 km south of Chemainus on the Island Highway.

Birds

Next to the B.C Forestry Museum, on Island Highway, lies the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Refuge. Somenos Lake is part of the Pacific Coast flyway. Here, thousands of birds cut in from Cowichan through Somenos Marsh, up to Cowichan Valley, and then over the west side of Vancouver Island. More than 200 species of birds have been identified on the Marsh. A great festival that is held at Somenos Marsh is Great Blue Heron Festival. Keeping this wonderful place as pristine as possible is a mission for more than 300 members.

Murals

1982 marks the year when the first five murals of Cheimainus were created, making way for now 41 murals and 13 sculptures that decorate the town.  These are an attraction for tourists as there are more than 400,000 visitors each ear.
Festival of Murals takes place during the last weekend of June. In the festivities are included a variety of activities: puppetry, clowning, outdoor theatre, food booths, street music, arts and crafts demonstrations, folk dancing, and of course, the annual giant swap meet.
World’s largest outdoor gallery is available through heritage tours. There are basically three options: Take a self-guided tour and follow the footprints, take a trolly, or ride stylish on a horse-drawn carriage.

Ferry to Thetis & Penelakut


BC Ferry:

Downtown from Chemainus to Thetis and Penelakut Island runs a small car and passenger ferry. Both Penelakut and Thetis relish a Mediterranean climate and small populations.

History

The native shaman and prophet “Tsa-meeun-is” (Broken Chest) is the inspiration for Chemainu’s name. Legend says that in order to become a powerful chief, the shaman survived a massive wound in this chest. As a sign of respect, his people named their community after him, the Stz’uminus First Nation.
The railroad was first developed in 1880s, this causing a growth spurt of population, in 1920s the town population rising to 600 people. Statistics Canada designated Chemainus a census populated area. Cheimainus population, by 2011, had 3035 residents.