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van-island Duncan - A travel report by Corey
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Duncan,  Canada - flag Canada -  British Columbia
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van-island's travel reports

Duncan, BC - Wine country on the Pacific Coast

  13 votes
My hometown in Canada. Originally a forestry and mill town, Duncan is currently in the process of reinventing itself as a west coast culinary and wine specialist.

Duncan train station, in the centre of town.  Unfortunately, the station only sees two trains per da
Duncan train station, in the centre of town. Unfortunately, the station only sees two trains per da
Duncan is the economic centre of the Cowichan Valley, located on Vancouver Island about an hour north of Victoria, BC. While in previous years much of its income derived from a nearby pulp and paper mill in Crofton, Duncan is beginning to diversify into various areas, most notably wine production. The Cowichan Valley's unique warm climate (indeed, the word Cowichan comes from a Coast Salish word meaning the warm land) means that it is well suited to wine production, and the number of active vinyards has exploded in recent years. In addition, Duncan has also recently become a hot spot for eco-tourism, with whale watching and kayaking companies taking visitors out into the beautiful Straight of Georgia. Nearby Saltspring Island is also a shopping paradise for local cheese, beer (oh! the beer...) and soap among other things.

Favourite spots:
Yours truly taking a dip in the Cowichan river.
Yours truly taking a dip in the Cowichan river.
As a kid, my favourite spot was without a doubt the Cowichan River. If you have a free day to spare in Duncan in the summer, a 5 hour inner-tube ride down the river is sure to relax. Pack a lunch, a cooler of beer, and float through forests, canyons and swimming holes with friends.

What's really great:
A map of wineries in the Cowichan Valley
A map of wineries in the Cowichan Valley
The wineries top the list of places to visit. A quick search on Google reveals over 10 wineries within a 20km radius, most of which offer tastings, winery tours, and direct sales at their vinyards. Also, Merridale Cidery in Cobble Hill just outside of Duncan has a fantastic restaurant and bakery, and is also a big participant in the Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival from September 29th - October 1st.

Totem poles dot the streets
Totem poles dot the streets
Downtown Duncan was built at the turn of the centry, and still retains much of its walkable, small town feel. Small stores line the streets, and a quick walk to the train station reveals why Duncan is called The City of Totems. Home to one of the largest native tribes in BC, totem poles line the streets, and the Native Heritage Centre (10 minute walk from downtown) has carving, dancing, and explanations of the tribe's traditional culture. Most definitely the BEST way to get to Duncan is on the E & N Railway from Victoria. While you may have to wake up early to catch the train, the view is worth it. The Dayliner, as the passenger car is called, passes through some incredibly beautiful scenery on its one-hour trip to Duncan.

Maple Bay, just outside of Duncan.
Maple Bay, just outside of Duncan.
There are numerous hotels in Duncan, the nicest of which is probably the Silver Bridge Inn. However, there are also a few nice B&B's, the best of which is the Quamichan Inn out towards Maple Bay. Although I've only been for dinner and a wedding celebration, the food is outstanding; they use local food and wines for their cooking.

Just Jakes, an excellent restaurant in downtown Duncan also recently opened the Craig Street Brew Pub. Both offer excellent food and atmosphere, and the beer at the pub is fantastic.

Published on Friday September 15th, 2006

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Sun, Sep 24 2006 - 01:57 PM rating by st.vincent

Interesting hometown report, loved the totem pole photo

Sun, Sep 24 2006 - 05:08 AM rating by marianne

A good read and good information, beautiful photos

Thu, Sep 21 2006 - 10:29 AM rating by tokyomike

Dude, this is an excellent report! As you know, I'm from Port Alberni, so I've passed though Duncan on the way to Victoria numerous times...but aside from being a good place to grab a macdonald's burger on the road, I didn't think it had much to offer. How wrong was I, eh! With this report, you've just put Duncan on the map when I go to rediscover Canada. And I'll be sure to take the E&R so I don't have to drive after the wineries and brew pub ;)

Sun, Sep 17 2006 - 09:57 AM rating by terje

Hi Corey! Thanks for telling us about a "for me" unknown wine-area

Sat, Sep 16 2006 - 10:21 AM rating by mrscanada

I love the wine here. Nice review.

Sat, Sep 16 2006 - 05:23 AM rating by davidx

vg report - a difficult thing to tell strangers about a town you know so well.
A bit surprising that you have left out 2 sections sometimes they don't come out when you copy - but they will if you edit and repeat the copy.
Very pleasing photos.

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