Cowichan Bay is located on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It’s a wonderful little bay with a very pleasant village running along the shore. There are great places to dine, wonderful shops to browse, and one of the most incredible maritime museums you will ever see, its build on an old wharf and is just jammed full of so much of the local history that you will find yourself spending hours exploring it.
The Bay was first settled by the Hudson’s Bay Company who built a trading post and fort here in the 1850s. The Bay was the first community settlement north of Victoria, life was tough in the early days, and it was adventurous individuals who moved here to homestead, log, and fish.
By the late 1890s, a store and hotel were up and running, and by 1900 the Bay was a tourist mecca with boats full of city folks arriving weekly. The place was booming, the bay was always full of boats.
Originally both Cowichan Lake and the bayside village were known as Kaatza, in the Cowichan language, it is the word for big lake. The Cowichan Bay area is the traditional land of the Cowichan First Nation.
Today, the village of Cowichan Bay and the surrounding area is home to historic buildings, artists, friendly shops, and farmer’s markets. The bay is still a mecca for tourists who mostly arrive by boat.
Cowichan Bay, with its bed and breakfast lodgings that are built right out over the water on stilts, its wonderful shops and restaurants, its float house community, and historic wharf/ museum is something everyone should see.