Chemainus is proud to share its culture and history

From murals and sculptures to local art and theatre, cultural and historical experiences are plentiful in Chemainus

A mural
Mural 36, entitled The Hermit, was painted by Paul Ygartua in 2004. — Photo courtesy The Ladysmith Chronicle

The tiny oceanside town of Chemainus, B.C., is a living museum where local history is displayed proudly and wandering from boutique shop to cozy café is a way of life.

The world-famous mural collection that put the town on the map was developed when a forward-thinking mayor in the early '80s sought a cultural revitalization grant to save the town from economic hardship because of the closure of a local mill. Artists from all around Vancouver Island, across Canada, and as far away as Europe chronicled the tale of Chemainus’s heritage and history—from First Nations to industry—in 41 larger-than-life murals throughout the town.

The visitor centre offers booklets for a cost of $3 that provide information for self-guided mural tours. The visitor centre is the prime destination to learn about all things Chemainus—including local history, advice on where to get a great snack and current community events.

Staff will probably direct you to the Chemainus Valley Museum in Waterwheel Park, where artifacts and historical information are on display. Community events including Music in the Park and a bluegrass festival take place in the park every summer.

The Chemainus Theatre hosts some of North America’s best theatrical performers as part of its lively year-round schedule and its Theatre Festival. It is worth a stop in the Playbill Dining Room before a performance to enjoy the culinary delights and relaxing atmosphere. While at the theatre, check out the delightful selection of artwork by more than 100 B.C. artists in The Gallery Gift Shop. 

In summer, the Wednesday Market is a wholesome way to enjoy Chemainus, meet some locals and understand the town’s connected spirit. Load up on fresh vegetables and bread, take in some musical whimsy, and stay for a walk down to the ocean for an amazing sunset.

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