Chemainus, on Vancouver Island’s east shore, is a little town snuggled in between a mountain range and the ocean, isolated with a river cutting it off from the south and a major highway to the north. Chemainus is located between Nanaimo and Victoria, in the Cowichan Valley. Other picturesque towns located nearby are Duncan, Ladysmith and Lake Cowichan. Chemainus is a town that was born of the hands of labourers, with its only industry failing, Chemainus showed the world its true spirit and determination, and was to achieve fame through the hands of artists.
Such is the condensed recent history of “The Little Town that Did.” Mining, fishing and forestry were the original industries that gave work to many Chinese who worked in “bull gangs” struggling to move huge lumber planks to the ships in the late 1800’s, and who arrived to work on the trans Canada Railroad later. Japanese, and later, east Indians blended their cultures with Scots and Germans looking for riches in the mines and staying to work in the forests and on fishing boats. And the beautiful Cowichan Valley has been the home of The Original First Nations peoples and their ancestors for countless generations, whose history and lives have been interwoven since those first white settlers came to the area.
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