Like most typical towns on the Island, Chemainus got its start by being home to the Nation of the Coast Salish people. Later, the Europeans showed up and got the industrial side of things going— Chemainus’s sawmill, in the mid-1800s. An iron mine was installed soon after in the early 1900s and by then it seemed like a natural progression to put up a hospital and library.
The town carried on from there and expanded quite happily until the 1980s. The major local lumber mill packed it in and the town was facing a very uncertain future. But, a plan to save the town was put into place: the great idea of creating full-scale art murals featuring the local history that built the foundation of the area. The Coast Salish people’s images were captured in paint, and now broad railway scenes, visual interpretations of the fur trade, and other industries all make up over 40 murals.
There’s Lots to See and Do in Chemainus
You can take a self-guided tour by following the yellow footprints on the sidewalk, or catch one of the tours down at the Waterwheel Park. There, you have some options. One is to go on a trolley car or take a horsedrawn buggy, or do a walkabout with a guide. All three start at the Visitor’s Center near the entrance to the Park.
There is another interesting way to see this quaint little town; if you happen to have a boat, then you can moor at the newly refurbished marina for a short two hour stay or overnight. Once you are there, it’s a very short and pretty walk to the centre of town where you can find an abundance of nice shops and services, done up with attention to character style. I have been here several times and keep discovering new and unique things to admire or buy.
Perched on the edge of the Salish Sea, Chemainus beckons boaters and marine lovers of all kinds. Kin Park is the place you want to be for scuba diving, see Giant Octopus and Wolf Eels slide and shimmy around, and have the opportunity to explore a sunken Boeing 737, which is now serving as an artificial reef.
Visiting Chemainus Theatre is a Must
There are many highlights to the town, but one of the most popular is the Chemainus Theatre. The producers launch live theatre shows regularly, appealing to a wide varity of audiences. There is a consistant balance of comedy, drama, musicals, and now a season called Kidzplay for younger audiences aged 4 to 18.
Dracula will be playing from Oct. 11 to Nov. 9 and it is a great way to get in the mood for the eerie and wonderful season of Halloween, even after the official date is gone. For getting into the festive season, the classic story It’s A Wonderful Life will be showing from Nov. 22 to Dec. 23. The next Kidzplay exhibition is The 13 Clocks from the story by James Thurber, on Dec. 27.
Kick-starting the 2014 season for the Theatre will be the feel-good jukebox musical Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, which is being shown Feb. 11 to March 8. The powerful and critically-acclaimed musical Les Misérables will be the grand opening of the theatre’s summer season; its show times will be from June 20 to Sept. 7. For Kidzplay, Robert Munsch’s stories will be making a comeback in Munsch-ercise, running from July 19 to Aug. 16. These are just a few of the performances next year’s season has to offer.
If you are coming from out of town, the Theatre has combined a Dinner and Hotel package for a buffet-style meal, including salad and dessert. The theatre often pairs a themed play and food idea for the ultimate creativity, like Chekov and Chocolate earlier in March. There is a Brunch buffet for the matinee performances, too.
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