The City of Duncan is located off the Trans Canada Highway and is about half way between Victoria and Nanaimo. It is situated at the south central area of Vancouver Island. This region is described as having a Mediterranean climate as it boasts the warmest mean temperature in Canada. The word "Cowichan" or "Khowutsun" comes from the traditional native language and translates to "the land warmed by the sun".


Originally a whistle stop for the E&N Railway, the City of Duncan began to expand when a train station (today, a national heritage site) was built in 1887, attracting new business and settlement to the area.

Prior to the European settlers populating the Duncan - Cowichan area in the late 1800's, this Vancouver Island region was inhabited by the Coast Salish First Nations people. Today, the Coast Salish First Nations people invite visitors to learn more about their culture at the Quw'utsun Cultural Centre where you will find displays, dancing, carvings, knitting demonstrations and traditional salmon BBQs.


Duncan is the heart of the Cowichan Region and features a number of heritage and vintage buildings. This Vancouver Island City is the commercial centre of the Cowichan region and a hub of First Nations art and culture. There are more than 40 preserved totems which are proudly displayed in downtown Duncan -- "The City of Totems". To experience something unique, visit the 1800's museum which is housed in a heritage designated train station.

The City of Duncan has two world's largest attractions. The first largest attraction being a hockey stick, at 205 feet in length and weighing 31 tons; which adorns the Vancouver Island community centre and attracts world-wide attention. The second largest attraction is an 800 year old log carved into the 6 foot wide "Cedar Man Holding Talking Stick" totem pole that was carved by internationally acclaimed artist Richard Hunt.

The Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre is among the region's most impressive attractions and offers insight into the culture of the area's First Nations. The BC Forest Discovery Centre is another attraction, offering a 40-hectare park with hiking trails, forestry displays and a steam train. Pacific Northwest Raptors Educational Centre is dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey and features interesting displays and demonstrations. The Somenos Marsh and Wildlife Refuge is a birdwatchers paradise, as it is home to more than 200 species.

The Vancouver Island City of Duncan hosts a Saturday Farmers Market which is known to be among the best of its kind in British Columbia. A strong arts community showcases their work at many galleries and exhibits and there are many arts and music festivals and events throughout the year.


Aerial shot of Duncan, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BCThe City of Duncan is surrounded by charming Vancouver Island seaside communities, mountains, rushing rivers and beautiful vistas. Genoa Bay Marina is a short scenic drive away and is a rustic hideaway full of old wooden sailboats. It is a sheltered marina community of float homes, yachts and working vessels.

Cowichan Bay is a historic seaside village surrounding Duncan, is located in one of the premier sailing and cruising areas in the world on Vancouver Island. A large portion of the village is built over water on stilts. This Vancouver Island village is a working harbour and ships lumber worldwide. Cowichan Bay is home to an active fishing fleet that brings salmon, tuna, crab and prawns to her docks.

Maple Bay is yet another Vancouver Island seaside community located in a narrow inlet and surrounded by pebbled beaches. Maple Bay is one of the finest natural harbours on the West Coast and is busy with marine activity all year round.

Shopping & Dining

The City of Duncan has a diversity of stores, boutiques, galleries and restaurants providing visitors and local with many hours of delightful shopping, browsing or sampling this Vancouver Island region's best cuisine.

Arts, Culture and Festivals

Home to the Cowichan Theatre (a performance centre for touring professional artists and community arts groups), the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives, over 80 totem poles and the world's largest hockey stick, Duncan is a creative and productive city. Festivals include the delightful Cowichan Culinary and Wine Festival, the midsummer Islands Folk Festival, the Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival and the Spirit of Cowichan Celebrations. Other sites of interest include the Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre, the BC Forest Discovery Centre and the free tours at the Freshwater EcoCentre.


Duncan is located midway between Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It is an hour's drive north of Victoria on Highway 1, or an hour's drive south from Nanaimo. BC Ferries offers daily service from the Mainland of BC to Victoria or Nanaimo. Nanaimo Airport, just a 30-minute drive from Duncan, provides airline service by Island Express Air, Air Canada and WestJet. Intercity buses travel several times a day between Duncan, other Island communities and the BC Mainland. Local bus service is offered in Duncan and to outlying communities.

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