Places We Go – Chemainus, British Columbia

July 9, 2010

We anchored in about the same place in Telegraph Harbor each time we were there. It began to feel like home!  Once again, as in Blind Bay, I wanted to meet my shore-side neighbors – to no avail.   We couldn’t make water there, or anywhere in the Gulf Islands, due to some sort of algae in the water. Making water in these conditions clogs the water filters quickly. We used Chemainus as our water/provision port. Chemainus allows a boat to dock two hours for $10. That’s enough time to fill the water tanks, pick up groceries at the top of the dock, and get a latte! Perfect. However, the first time we asked to come in they only had room at the dock if we were willing to stay the night. We stayed the night! The outside dock can hold three big boats. There is more room inside the marina for boats under 45 feet.   We had a great time and it was worth the overnight. We got the boat washed, too.

We have been to Chemainus several times. As I mentioned in the last post, we usually anchor in Telegraph Harbor, dinghy over to the public dock, walk to the ferry landing, and catch the ferry to Chemainus. We have never been to the Chemainus Marina. Guide books painted an animated and uncomfortable picture, with the ferry coming and going. In fact, it was not too bad. The harbormaster, Harman, takes an active role in securing the boats to his dock, which makes it fairly safe for the boats and the dock.

First rule of going to a dock is secure the boat, get rid of garbage, and fill up with water. I headed up to the grocery store to do provisioning while Bruce filled the water tank. He was going to join up and help bring the groceries back to the boat once the water tank was filled. There are two grocery stores within walking distance of the ferry landing and marina. Both carry a good choice. The IGA that is further inland has a larger selection if you really need something and can’t find it at the 49th Parallel Grocery. I have had good success with both. By the time we got the groceries back aboard and stowed, we were both hungry, which meant it was past latte time. Bummer! We stopped in the coffee shop and I browsed their used books, but we really needed to be getting on to lunch. We told the lady behind the counter we would be back in the morning. She smiled and said okay – but I got the impression she thought we were just being polite.

The people of Chemainus are very friendly and helpful. We did a quick tour of the town, on a mission to find a hair salon. I really needed a haircut. We found a salon, but I didn’t make an appointment since I thought we had to leave early the next morning. I found out later that we could stay until noon, so I got an appointment for the next day.

Chemainus used to be a very bustling logging community. In addition to the logging there was a strong commercial fishing presence in the town, too. Most of that has all ended. The town needed a way to stay vibrant and alive. I don’t know how they came upon the idea, but they decided to have murals done on the exterior walls of the downtown businesses depicting the history of the area. Each completed mural is the culmination of an artistic competition and process. Artists, from around the world, create and submit paintings for consideration, and hopefully, be chosen and have the privilege of creating a mural. I have posted some of the murals in previous posts. Some of the ones in this blog may be duplicates.  (Use the Search at the top of the blog and find other posts of Chemainus and more murals. )

I was excited to see that they are doing a series on the art of Emily Carr. She is a Canadian artist and writer, who was inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. I found the first mural.  It was done by an artist from Germany. The city guide suggested that there was another mural, that I couldn’t find. I inquired at the museum and found that this is the next proposed location. The fellow docent at the museum told me that the town is running out of “good walls” to create murals. Apparently, the newer walls are not wood, block, or cement, but synthetic materials that paint will not adhere to. In fact, the Emily Carr murals, on the theater, had to be created on canvas and then adhered to the building! The mural is a combination of three paintings, the center one being quite large. I couldn’t get a decent photo of the entire wall, as it was very large and there was too much shadow. These two paintings are the “wings” of the full mural.   The city is moving to statues and carvings in the advent of limited walls.   They will continue to add art in one form or another to their collection.

The town provides a self-guided walking tour of the murals. Basically, follow the yellow footsteps around town, and eventually you will see them all!  In fact, the murals have become so popular people are coming in tour buses, to such an extent the city built a tour bus parking center!  It was a brilliant idea to create the murals, and it’s wonderful that people come to see the murals and support the community of Chemainus.

These murals are one of the reasons Chemainus is one of our favorite Places We Go!

7 thoughts on “Places We Go – Chemainus, British Columbia

  1. Love seeing the Emily Carr murals! I will pick up a book or two of her paintings while still in British Columbia, to add to “The Forest Lover” fictionalized biography you gave me before we left. Thanks again!

    Don’t you think that she captures the spirit of the trees, their movement and personality? Love it!! Great post (and the continuation of Chemainus post today!). Hugs. Katherine

  2. Hi, Angie
    We love Chemainus too. Have you been to the local theater. Last year saw a great rendition of Oklahoma, and this year saw Guys and Dolls.

    • Thank you SO much! What makes the murals even more incredible as they are huge! I am not sure it translates in the pictures. Stephanie, you and Larry have been a wonderful support to the blog! Incredible that we met in Mexico and haven’t seen each other since. We have to get together again sometime!

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