Nurtured by the highest average seasonal temperatures in all of Canada, the region’s name is derived from the Coast Salish word “Khowtzun” meaning “The Warm Land”. The mild weather, beautiful surroundings and relaxed lifestyle make this area particularly appealing to retirees, artists, families and those trying to escape the trappings of the larger urban areas.
Home to only 74,000 people, the fast growing region stretches from the Malahat in the south to Ladysmith in the north encompassing the communities of Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay, Lake Cowichan, Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, Crofton, Chemainus, Saltair and of course Ladysmith. The region is actually larger than a good number of countries.
Ideally situated between Victoria and Nanaimo, the valley is itself a bedroom community to those larger cities and also offers easy access via ferries and air to Vancouver and Seattle. Victoria and Vancouver also offer International Airports. The Island Highway, which has seen dramatic improvements over the past few years, connects all the communities of the island to the Cowichan Valley and also offers some of the nicest scenic driving anywhere.
Breathtaking scenery, mild climate year round and the natural geography of the valley make this area a spectacular place for the outdoor enthusiast. Protected by the Gulf Islands, the water’s of this area are a boater’s dream come true. Ocean kayaking, sailing, power boating, fishing, scuba and windsurfing are all at your doorstep. Excellent moorage is readily available and cruise ships now frequent the area. Local ocean waters provide fisherman the opportunity to catch Salmon, Cod and a wide variety of fish species.
The Cowichan River, one of the first in Canada to be deemed a Heritage River, offers superb Steelhead and Trout fishing and has an international reputation for angling. The Cowichan Footpath, a 12 mile trail along the Cowichan River, gives access to some great scenery.
There are other notable rivers that wind through the region like the Chemainus and Koksilah rivers. Beautiful Lakes dot the area and both Shawnigan Lake and Cowichan Lake are frequented by campers and sun seekers alike and both offer access to the west coast.
The west coast is renowned for its rugged beauty, pristine beaches and temperate rain forests. With great year round weather the area is fantastic for golfers too. Arbutus Ridge, a popular retirement community is nestled amongst 18 holes of challenging golf. Duncan Lakes, Cowichan, Mt. Brenton and March Meadows golf courses also offer superb golf
Duncan, known as the “City of Totems”, is central in the Cowichan Valley and offers much of the area’s amenities. Such amenities include shopping, Community Center, Theatre, Pool, Library, Schools, Curling Rink, Museums, Community College, fine dining, pubs and hotels and more. The Island Savings Community Center boasts the world’s largest hockey stick and puck (205 feet long and weighing 31 tons) and is also home to the BCHA “Cowichan Capitals”(great hockey!).
For families there are several highly rated (provincially) schools and numerous private schools most popular of which are Brentwood College School, Shawnigan Lake Preparatory School, Queen Margaret School and Maxwell International Baha’i School. With excellent recreational and educational opportunities the Cowichan Valley is an ideal environment in which to raise children
Forestry and farming are the principal industries in the region. Several forestry companies along with their lumber mills and pulp and paper mills have provided employment for much of the local population. Forestry has been somewhat on the decline and tourism is gaining momentum as a local industry. Cut backs in forestry as well global and local economic factors have created good real estate opportunities for buyers in the Cowichan Valley.
Whether you are looking for a retirement home, a hobby farm, a quiet place to raise the kids, a luxury waterfront home or just a recreational get-a-way, the Cowichan Valley has it all.