Duncan, BC, Has It’s Totems… Chemainus Has Murals

And so they should.  The small town of Duncan, BC, lures tourists to its downtown shops and restaurants via the gambit of erecting Totems throughout the downtown area and creating a big to-do about it.  Well it worked for Duncan, so the village of Chemainus had to come up with something to bring tourism to town because their sawmill, one of the largest covered sawmills in the North America had closed (1982).  They came up with this idea… glorify the history of Chemainus and its founding fathers, mothers and children by painting large murals around town.

Well… they created a Chemainus Festival of Murals Society, and did just that. Today, there are over 3 dozen murals painted on the downtown business walls. The paintings are images of real people, and life in the early years.  They are supposedly “world famous” much like “Sea Lion Caves” and “Trees of Mystery” on the Oregon Coast and Phillipe’s double dip pork sandwiches in L.A.  In the theory of “If you build it they will come”… they built it and thousands come each year.  We couldn’t resist…

What we found:

Enough of the murals already… Sit down so I have a warm lap to sit on

Yes they have murals and yes they are pretty kewl. So, did all the hard work pay off? During the summer for the most part it seems to. When we were there, many others were also wandering about town goggling at the murals and spending money in the shops and restaurants. There were however more than a few shop spaces that had “for lease” signs on them. Not a good indicator of success. I imagine with the current state of affairs and the temporary termination of tourism due to Covid-19… there will be more…

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