Continued from main page:
Chemainus, has things like imagination and foresight and a will to survive after it was announced in 1982 that the major employer in this one industry town, the mill was going to close in 1983. View Chemainus Silent add or read tripadvisor. More Tourism links and Tourism Chemainus how to get here.
The coastal community of Chemainus, located in the originally named Horseshoe Bay a natural harbour, has a rich and varied history. Beginning thousands of years ago with the Coast Salish Native people, that history has flourished through a century and a half of industry and labour. With a mild climate and a great abundance of natural resources, the surrounding area became home to many hardworking settlers. Side by side, these people hewed a town of substance from the majestic forests.
These same forests have provided the lifeblood of the entire valley for more than a century, but to Chemainus, this has sometimes been a painful reality.
Without waiting to hear if the mill would reopen, residents rallied to hold on to the roots they had established here. They beautified the central core. But more was to come. With the remarkable energy and creative vision of resident and businessman Karl Schutz a group of volunteers, and the committed support of the then mayor Graham Bruce and the municipal council, the Festival of Murals Society was born. The downtown was revitalized and introduced to outdoor art gallery of murals. The first town to do this and indeed Chemainus became an example to the world as to how grow tourism via the art of murals. From just five wall murals and lots of spirit in the summer of 1981, Chemainus has struggled, grown and succeeded in literally putting itself on the map.
In 1983, it won the prestigious New York Downtown Revitalization Award for its redevelopment of the town core. It has since gained world-wide acclaim for the integrity and superb artistry of its huge depictions of the town's history with 41 outdoor murals plus carvings and statues.
Settled in the 1850s by European farmers, Chemainus quickly became a major timber-milling and -shipment point, due to the town's Horseshoe Bay, the oldest deepwater port on the Canadian west coast.
Prosperity saw the building of handsome homes and a solid commercial district. By the mid-20th century, the sawmills here were among the largest in the world, fed by the seemingly unending supply of wood from Vancouver Island's vast old-growth forests.
When the mills started to talk about clsoing in 1980 - 83, the town was about to slid into decline. Economic prospects for Chemainus seemed dim around 1980 - 84 until Karl Schutz had the bright idea of hiring an artist to paint a mural depicting the town's history. Tourists took notice, and soon mural painting became the raison d'être of this town of only slightly more than 3,500 residents.
Chemainus, is now Canada's largest permanent outdoor art gallery. Much of downtown is covered with murals, most dealing with area history and now "Emily Carr" (read our story on Emily).
Stop by the Chemainus Visitor Info Centre, for a walking-tour map of the murals, or go to www.muraltown.com for an online map. Across the street from the visitor center in Heritage Park you can join a horse-drawn wagon tour of the murals or simply follow the yellow shoe-prints painted on the sidewalks.
Much of the town is quiet and pedestrian-oriented, making it a pleasant place for a stroll and a good spot for lunch, and stay overnight and take in a live professional theatre show or play a round of golf. Make Chemainus your central Vancouver island destination for Island exploring.
Old Town Chemainus, along Willow and Maple streets, is filled with Victorian cottages converted into shops and cafes.
The Chemainus Theatre is a late-19th-century opera style house that now serves as a popular dinner theatre.