There’s something so magical about Cowichan in the fall! With the warmer temperatures, the deep crimsons and golden yellows seem to hang on a little longer here. Deeper in the valley, the endless hiking and biking trails come alive with lush year-round greenery. Now is the perfect time to discover the locally-grown gems in your own backyard and enjoy some travel around this vast and unique region. 

Experience Locally Living History

Totems Tour in Duncan.

The legacy of the Cowichan, or Quw’utsun’, First Nations makes up a significant amount of the cultural tapestry here. This is evidenced in totem poles, carvings, and in the designs of the world famous Cowichan sweaters. Truth be told, we are all guests here, as the Cowichan region comprises the traditional territories of the Coast Salish People. Indigenous art and history can be found throughout the region, like the famous Duncan Totem Tour, a visitor favourite. Immerse yourself in Cowichan’s history with a self-guided tour of over 40 locally-designed and carved totems made by Indigenous artists depicting the oral history of their community. Each totem is carved from Western Red Cedar. 

The Totems Tour will take you through the thriving downtown Duncan area, and along the bustling Craig St. Here you’ll find countless shops, cafes, and boutiques featuring locally-made and locally-sourced products. Stop into Judy Hill Gallery for Indigenous-crafted souvenirs like bentwood boxes or a traditional Cowichan sweater. Visit Resthouse Sleep Solutions for their beautiful selection of sustainable bedding. Spend the day exploring the many side streets and stop for lunch at The Ainslie where chef and owner Ian Blom and his family serve up local flavours from nearby farms. Starting in November, locals will be delighted to know that Hudson’s on First will be having their grand reopening! This family-run establishment is renowned for their impeccable menu and ambiance, so be sure to book in advance.

Nurture Nature

Westholme Tea Farm in Cowichan is Canada's only working tea farm.

Just outside Duncan’s downtown core, you’ll find Westholme Tea Farm  and Rocky Creek Winery, two more family-run businesses specializing in the finest of local ingredients.

Rocky Creek Winery is one of Cowichan’s many family-run wineries and their vast selection of award-winning wines make it easy to find your new favourite. We’re partial to their gold-medal-winning Pinot Gris ourselves, so we definitely recommend that one. 😉 

Westholme Tea Farm has been a must-visit destination for travellers for years. Right now, their tearoom is closed for the year, but locals can still visit the shop and gallery to browse their incredible selection of teas grown right on the property, and the beautiful handcrafted pottery made by local Margit Nelleman. 

Just south of Duncan, in Cowichan Bay, you’ll find a plethora of artisan producers focused on the tenets of Cowichan: locally grown and locally made. One of the most unique spots is Wild Coast Perfumery. Here, you’ll find one-of-a-kind scents made from essential oils and tinctures from needles, leaves, flowers, lichen, fungi, and moss harvested from our own local forests! Did you know, you can also create your own custom scent? Plant based perfumes already adapt to your body chemistry, and now you can choose to mix and match from the unique Wild Coast Perfumery fragrances to make one of your own. These bespoke fragrances are available by appointment only, so give them a call to start creating yours. 

On the Water

The Cowichan River has some of the best fly fishing in Canada.

On the western edge of Cowichan is the Cowichan River, a local favourite in the summer. In the fall and winter seasons, as the water rises, you’ll find some of the best fly fishing in BC. October to December is the best time of year to fish for trout in the rushing waters. While some may be hesitant to try it as first-timers, it really is enjoyable at all levels, and quite the workout to boot! Local, family-run, eco-venture company Vancouver Island Fly Fishing offers guided tours and training for anglers of all levels, so even the most novice guests will be casting like a pro by the end of the full or half-day trip. 

The Cowichan River is also an important historical and ecological spot for Cowichan and is a Canadian and BC Heritage River: a recognition given to areas that support natural, human heritage, and recreational values. 

On the south-eastern coast of Cowichan lies Mill Bay Marina. During the month of November, “Stay Local” with a package featuring a 2 night stay on your own private luxury yacht docked at the Marina, care of NW Explorations. The package includes dinner and a bottle of Prosecco delivered to the yacht from nearby Bridgemans Bistro, an additional gift certificate for the bistro, and complimentary use of the marina’s kayaks and paddle boards to explore picturesque Mill Bay! Look out for the annual winter swans, seals, bald eagles. Wake up to the sounds of the gentle waves with this truly unique local getaway you won’t soon forget! Ideal for 2 couples or a family of 4.  Visit them at mbmg.ca/adventure for info.

There’s so much to see and do, and so many new adventures to have in your own backyard this year! Come Experience our locally-grown and locally-made community.

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