Marina at Cowichan Bay
(Andrea Johnson photo)



Duncan is in the heart of the Cowichan Valley.

This fertile land on the southeastern midriff of Vancouver Island was carved 10,000 years ago by glacial action and the rush of two major rivers. The valley also includes the neighboring towns of Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay, and Genoa Bay, as well as the rural hamlet of Glenora just west of town and Lake Cowichan to the northwest.

The Olympic mountain range of northwest Washington state and Vancouver Island's own central mountain chain shelter the region from the blustery weather systems that blow in off the open Pacific. The Chemainus and Cowichan rivers flow out of Cowichan Lake in the interior. The latter has been designed as a Canadian Heritage River based on its natural, cultural, and recreational value.

Forests & Fauna

While Duncan itself is an urban centre, the surrounding land is a mix of farmland, forest, and rocky hillside terrain. Douglas fir, western red cedar and hemlock stands are the most common trees. The Nature Conservancy of Canada's precious Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve in Maple Bay is widely recognized as one of the last remaining examples of an ecosystem that was commonplace a century ago.

The region is home to black-tailed deer, black bears, Roosevelt elk (who roam the slopes of Mount Prevost), otters, beavers, and more than 200 species of birds.

Climate and Weather

The Coast Salish First Nations who originally inhabited this region named the valley after a word in their language meaning "land warmed by the sun."

Sure enough, the region has the highest mean average annual temperature in Canada at 11°C/52°F. Summer days here are shirt-sleeve warm, while winter temperatures rarely fall below the freezing mark.

This Maritime Mediterranean climatic zone gets its share of rain over the winter (117cm/46inches) but that's a drop in the bucket compared to other areas of the Canadian west coast that lack the mountainous protection enjoyed here.