Cowichan Bay

Cowichan Bay Village is a picture-perfect community located on the water with stunning views and sunsets. Cottages, shops and restaurants are built on stilts over the water's edge. Bird watchers come to explore the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre where Great Blue Herons nest in trees and over 220 species of bird can be found. There is a Maritime Centre with historic artifacts, boat festival and regatta during the summer, and while there you must try the local bread and cheese.

The village of Cowichan Bay is a tourist attraction in the summer because of its cozy fishing-village feel. The community began a transformation in 2004 when Jonathan Knight opened True Grain Bread, a European inspired bakery at the centre of the seaside village. His organic breads and pretzels and a focus on local and sustainable business practices quickly made a name for the bakery and the community. His success spawned other businesses to open in the bay; Radway Studios, an organic clothing store; Hilary's Cheese, a local-made cheese shop; The Udder Guys, an old-style homemade ice-cream parlour; The Masthead, an upscale restaurant that serves delicious local foods; Mudworks, a pottery shop run by a local artisan; as well as many other eateries and knick-knack shops. Cowichan Bay offers visitors a chance to see their impressive wildlife through kayak tours and rentals and whalewatching tours. Depending on the time of year it is not uncommon to see bald eagles, seals, herons or other wildlife in the area.

Cowichan Bay was the gateway for European settlement of the Cowichan and Chemainus valleys from the early 1860s. 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.

From the early 1900s 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.

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