Cowichan Bay is North America’s First Cittaslow designated community. Cittaslow’s goals include improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down its overall pace, especially in a city’s use of spaces and the flow of life and traffic through them. Cittaslow is part of a cultural trend known as the slow movement.
Cowichan Maritime Centre
Cowichan Bay is home to the Cowichan Maritime Centre – an active community-based maritime museum and the home of the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society which preserves, exhibits and demonstrates the Maritime heritage and culture of wooden boats, especially as experienced on Canada’s West Coast. The first three pier exhibits are open at each end which allows the public to walk through and view the displays. The end gallery is a two level enclosed unit which contains many of the more environmentally sensitive artifacts such as model boats, pictures and a marine library.
Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre
The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is an interpretive centre overlooking the Cowichan Estuary, a 400 hectare estuarine ecosystem and internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA) in the unceded territory of the Quw’utsun people. The Nature Centre offers interactive opportunities for all ages to learn about the estuary, its watershed, marine life, and natural and cultural history. Visitors can see and touch marine and intertidal creatures in the aquarium and touch tank; use the microscopes, telescopes and interactive displays, and enjoy wildlife and bird watching along the ocean front interpretive trail and from the viewing tower.
Cowichan Bay is in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. The Cowichan Valley is home to the warmest year round temperatures in Canada. Whether you’re coming here for the great outdoor recreation opportunities – hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, etc, or you want to check out the local food and drink produced by our local farms, bakeries, restauranteurs and vineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries – you’re sure to find lots to love.
For many thousands of years Cowichan Bay was home to First Nations people who harvested the wealth of salmon and shellfish found in its many coves, tidal flats and swiftly flowing rivers.
Cowichan Bay was the gateway for European settlement of the Cowichan and Chemainus valleys from the early 1860’s. A steamer service from Victoria was the major link for goods and people before the coming of the railway. Bypassed by the Esquimalt and Nanaimo line and later by the Island Highway, Cowichan Bay nevertheless was a thriving little community, based on sport and commercial salmon fishing, and log and lumber exports.
That former economic base is declining but being replaced with more recreational water activities, a revived interest in boatbuilding, and an appreciation for the history and ecology of the Bay.
From the early 1900’s Cowichan Bay attracted sportsmen from all over the British Empire for superb salmon fishing in the Bay and the Cowichan and Koksilah rivers. It was, for a time, the Salmon Capital of the World offering not just fishing, but fine sailing waters, an annual regatta and, next to Wimbledon, the oldest grass tennis courts in the world!