This is another reposting of an earlier Vancouver Island blog. Again, Peggy and I still involved in our kayak trip among the Orcas. I know many of my followers enjoy murals and Chemainus has some great ones. I’ll catch up on comments when Peggy and I get back home– before we zip off to Burning Man. –Curt
“You have to visit Chemainus and see its murals,” the woman from Qualicum Beach urged. We were on the Black Ball Ferry between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia. While I hunkered down and read, Peggy made new friends. Fortunately, one of us is much more social than the other.
Qualicum Beach is next to Parksville, which was our destination. A thirty-minute conversation generated a long list of restaurants to visit and places to see. I was yanked out of my book to take notes.
Chemainus is an excellent recommendation. This thriving community is located in the Chemainus Valley on the east coast of Vancouver Island about an hour north of Victoria. In 1983 it came close to dying. The primary place of employment, a lumber mill, shut down. 700 of the town’s 4000 residents were thrown out of work.
This is the point where most communities give up. Business and political leaders spend their energy assigning blame instead of seeking solutions. Not so with Chemainus.
“Let’s cover the walls of our town with historic murals,” Karl Schultz urged. It would capture the community’s history, develop local pride, and hopefully encourage tourism. As always, there were naysayers, but Karl’s enthusiasm won out. Today Chemainus is world-famous for its murals and tens of thousands of tourists visit the town annually.
Since it was on our way and we had the time, Peggy and I decided to stop. Good decision. First, I love the story of the small community that has adopted the motto of “The Little Town that Did.” Second, I really like murals. Following are some our favorites out of the 39 (and increasing). For a complete tour visit www.chemainus.com/arts/murals/Chemainus–murals.htm.