Duncan, BC is located in the southeastern corner of Vancouver Island. Considered the unofficial capital of the Cowichan Valley, Duncan is well-known for having rich farmland, lush vineyards, and breathtaking scenic back roads.
Referred to sometimes as the “City of Totems”, Duncan boasts more than 80 First Nations carvings and sculptures throughout the city. There are many locations, museums, and sights that honour the ancient Aboriginal roots of the Coast Salish. Beyond the town’s cultural prowess, Duncan also boasts great local shops, restaurants, and more.
Duncan is the traditional home of the Cowichan Tribes, who are the largest band among the Coast Salish people. While the City of Duncan has a population of less than 5,000, it serves all 80,000 people who reside in the Cowichan Valley.
How to Get to Duncan
Located just off the Trans-Canada Highway and roughly halfway between Victoria and Nanaimo, getting to Duncan is an easy and scenic experience. Victoria and Nanaimo are both approximately 50km (33 miles) to the south and north of Duncan and are just a 30-minute scenic drive away. Travel options include car, ferry, public transit, trains, and flights.
The several different ferry options coming and going from Duncan will give you the chance to tour some of the Gulf Islands, with services from Chemainus to Thetis Island, and from Crofton to Salt Spring Island.
If you are looking to arrive in Duncan by plane, the Cassidy Airport is just a 10-minute drive north of Ladysmith. There are numerous daily 15-minute flights from Vancouver to Cassidy, and the Victoria International Airport is a 60-minute drive to Duncan.
Best Things to Do When Visiting
Duncan’s totem poles are perhaps the top attraction in the town, but there are numerous other things to do that are sure to make your trip memorable. Top things to do there include the following:
- BC Forest Discovery Centre
- Judy Hill Gallery
- Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre
- Chemainus River Provincial Park
- Cowichan-Chemainus Historic Scenic Route
- Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre
- Cowichan Native Village
- Saturday Farmer’s Market
- Aboriginal experiences
- Historic old-town quarter
Duncan, BC offers visitors a great combination of culture, adventure, and beauty. Whether you are a history buff or someone just looking to experience an authentic Canadian town in the middle of the stunning Cowichan Valley, you won’t be disappointed with a visit here.
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