vancouver island day six: mill bay, duncan, chemainus

After breakfast, we packed up and said a reluctant goodbye to this cozy spot -- mostly the deck with the view -- and headed north on the Trans-Canada Highway, towards Nanaimo. Allan and I drove on the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland, so we've been on the easternmost and westernmost points. To a lover of road-trips, that sounds like a challenge...

On the way north, we stopped at a scenic lookout with a totem and some interesting information about it. In the town of Mill Bay, we popped into small library branch tucked away in a shopping plaza. It's about the size of one of our small branches in Mississauga; the Vancouver Island Regional Library considers it a medium branch, meaning six permanent staff. (There are some very tiny branches on the north island.) I was very taken with this lovely library in Mill Bay. I can totally see myself working there.

Further down the road, we found the town of Duncan. It was Saturday, a busy market day. We hunted down a vegetarian restaurant Allan found in the guidebook, which turned out to be housed in a converted garage, along with a bookstore and some other shops. There was a huge lineup to order organic, vegetarian food -- and it was worth it.

Duncan is a totem city: there are 80 totems scattered throughout the little downtown, often in groups of three, with information about the carvers and the totem's meaning. Painted yellow footprints lead you on a self-guided walking tour of them all. This was a nice way to see more of the town.

There was also an outdoor market with all home/handmade local goods -- wine, honey, mushrooms, woodworking, weaving, jewelry, and so on, and a historic train station that's been converted into a regional historical museum.

Slightly outside of the old, walkable part of town, you're back on the Trans-Canada, with all the big-box stores you could need. We stopped in to see the world's biggest hockey stick (currently with a memorial for the hockey team that died in the bus crash). I thought that might have been our first "Canada's World Largest..." site, but we've stopped at the big apple in Colborne several times, on our way to Vermont -- not for the apple, but to pick up a pie to bring to relatives. I believe in September we'll see the Sudbury Nickel. (By the way, I have no real interest in purposely trying to see any of these things. More UNESCO world heritage sites, please.)

The hockey stick, however, is attached to the Cowichan Valley Community Centre, which is beautiful, and includes a library.

I am kind of in love with Duncan. I recently learned that a friend's mother lived there for many years. Upon hearing we were there, my friend practically swooned: "Oh, Duncan! I love Duncan..."

A bit further down the road, we found the town of Chemainus, where we are staying. This road-trip has our full range of accommodations: cutesy B&B, cozy lakeside cottage, AirBnb house, and chain hotel. In Chemainus we headed straight to the Best Western Plus. At the entrance, there was a water bowl for dogs, dog treats, and pick-up bags! Swoon!

Our $140/night rooms turned out to be suites. The rooms were across the hall from each other, each with sitting areas and full kitchens. We found this absolutely hilarious and wonderful.

Although this area is (supposedly) known for restaurants, wineries, and cheesemaking, we didn't find many good choices for dinner. (This is not the first time I've written that in this short travel diary.) We went to a brewpub with lots of local beers and a few local wines. I think everyone in Chemainus was there.

After dinner -- you guessed it -- we drank wine and talked in M&M's suite, mostly figuring out what to do next. I looked up librarian salaries in collective agreements.


James Redekop said...

What, you aren't planning to make a trip to Glendon, Alberta to see the World's Biggest Perogy On A Fork? :)

Amy said...

Can you give a sense of how far these places are from each other? I guess I should pull up Google Maps. I am getting the impression that Vancouver Island is much bigger than I imagined.

Amy said...

OK, I looked at a map so I have a better sense now of distances. If you move out there and haven't yet been to Orcas Island, it's a beautiful little island with almost nothing there but the ferry, one tiny little village, and lots and lots of trees and water and hiking trails. We had considered going from Orcas to Victoria or from Vancouver to Victoria, but the ferry schedule made it too time-consuming for our limited trip.

James Redekop said...

For reference, Vancouver Island is almost as big as Taiwan, and has about 3% the population.

laura k said...

I am very interested in seeing some of the gulf islands, which are in the strait between VI and mainland BC. That was something we didn't have time for on thus trip.

laura k said...