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Duncan Travel Guide


Duncan is a town in rural Vancouver Island about 38 miles (60 kilometers) north of Victoria along the Trans-Canada Highway. It plays a gateway role as the supply center for the Cowichan Valley, which is home to many Cowichan Indians. The town boasts more than 20 totem poles erected along the roadside. All of these have been crafted in authentic fashion by Native Indian craftsmen. If you are interested in buying native arts and crafts or purchasing one of the famous Cowichan sweaters, keep an eye peeled while driving on the road, as they are often sold by roadside vendors.[1]

Duncan is named after William Chalmers Duncan who arrived in Victoria in 1862 from his native Sarnia, Ontario. He was part of the team of settlers brought by Governor Douglas to the Cowichan Bay area. William Duncan settled in the site that is now the town. It grew in prominence in 1886 when the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway opened and used the Duncan’s Crossing as a stopover.[2]

Duncan is known as the “City of Totems” for the many totem poles in its downtown area; many of them were erected in the late 1980s. The highlight, however, is the world’s largest Totem pole, which the First Nations artisan Simon Charlie carved out.[3]

Duncan also has the world’s largest hockey stick, which is on display at the Cowichan Community Centre. The stick was constructed for the 1986 Expo in Vancouver.[4]

Another attractive aspect of Duncan is its large First Nations community. It has been the traditional home of the Coast Salish tribe for many years. This native group makes the world famous Cowichan Sweaters, which you can purchase while you’re in town. At the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, the largest one on Vancouver island, and held at the Sun Valley Mall, you can purchase various other native crafts as well as non-native goods like produce and nursery products.[5]

Duncan has one museum, the British Columbia Forest Museum, which presents a fascinating overview of the history of forestry in British Columbia through exhibits displayed indoors and outdoors. Visitors can look through old forestry equipment, visit a reconstructed logging camp, ride a narrow-gauge steam railway, or just stroll through the nearby forest.[6]The museum encompasses a hundred acre site, where you’ll find trails, picnic areas, blacksmith shops, sawmills, and several steam locomotives.[7]

“BC Forest Discovery Centre.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_Forest_Discovery_Centre>

Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.

“Duncan, British Columbia.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duncan%2C_British_Columbia>

[1] Carroll, 73
[2] Duncan
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Carroll, 73
[7] BC

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