SEA­SIDE TOWN Cowichan Bay

Suncruiser West Coast - - Contents - WORDS BY PERRY MACK

Of­ten re­ferred to as ‘eclec­tic’, the town is home to artists and ar­ti­sans, crafts­men and women, who em­brace the slower pace of is­land life. Dock your boat at the pop­u­lar Fish­er­man’s Wharf, which is also home to a flotilla of salmon, crab, prawn and tuna boats. It’s a short stroll off the dock to Cowichan Bay Road, which has ev­ery­thing you’ll need to en­joy the area. You can book a room at the Ocean­front Grand Re­sort and Ma­rina or set­tle in at the Dream Weaver Bed and Break­fast.

Once your bags are bed­ded down you’ll not doubt be hun­gry and ready to ex­plore. Walk­ing down the road you can grab a ca­sual bite at the Cow Bay Marine Pub or the Rock Cod Café. You’ll pass a va­ri­ety of marine stores and be tempted by sea­side ad­ven­tures like kayak rentals and whale-watch­ing tours.

The Cowichan Bay Mar­itime Cen­tre

is op­er­ated by the Cowichan Bay Wooden Boat So­ci­ety and of­fers hands-on ex­hibits, ar­ti­facts and pho­tographs de­pict­ing the Bay’s colour­ful his­tory. Watch while clas­sic and mod­ern wooden boats are be­ing built or re­stored.

The Cowichan Es­tu­ary Na­ture Cen­tre is just a short walk fur­ther, so hope­fully you’ve brought your cam­era and binoc­u­lars. The cen­tre over­looks the Cowichan Es­tu­ary, a 400-hectare area, which pro­vides habi­tat for res­i­dent and mi­gra­tory birds, Pa­cific salmon, shell­fish and a di­ver­sity of in­ter-tidal life. See and touch marine and in­ter­tidal crea­tures in the aquar­ium and touch tank; and en­joy wildlife and bird watch­ing along the ocean front in­ter­pre­tive trail and from the view­ing tower. If your legs haven’t given out, or if you’ve rented a bike and have more kilo­me­tres in you, con­tinue on Cowichan Bay Road into the es­tu­ary to Robert Ser­vice Me­mo­rial Park. A mon­u­ment stands in hon­our of “the Bard of the Yukon”. He is best known for his po­ems “The Shoot­ing of Dan Mc­grew” and “The Cre­ma­tion of Sam Mcgee”. The poet moved to Cowichan in 1896 and was dis­cov­ered by an ed­i­tor while work­ing as a store clerk. The rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Ea­gles and trum­peter swans are two of the 220 species that live or pass by here on this mi­gra­tory rest stop on the Pa­cific Fly­way. Spring and fall are the peak times to ex­pe­ri­ence this won­drous nat­u­ral re­lo­ca­tion.

For more ‘civ­i­lized’ pur­suits, play golf at nearby Cowichan Golf & Coun­try Club, ten­nis at one of the old­est lawn ten­nis courts in the world, or hitch a ride to Rocky Creek Win­ery for a sam­ple of their black­berry wine.

Na­ture, his­tory, sun, sand and sea make Cowichan Bay an ex­cel­lent port of call on your next mar­itime ex­cur­sion.

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