Admire The Murals In Chemainus On Vancouver Island

Murals In Chemainus On Vancouver Island BC.jpg

So Many Great Murals In Chemainus On Vancouver Island 

We made a wonderful discovery when we found murals in Chemainus on Vancouver Island.

When we travelled south on Vancouver Island towards Victoria, we pulled into the small town of Chemainus for lunch.  When we saw the sign for “World Famous Murals” we knew we were in for a treat.  At the time we visited there were apparently over 60 murals.   But we did not see them all.

Town Sign.jpg

How To See The Murals

Chemainus was a coastal town that relied on the local mill.  When it was shut down, the town looked for ways to revitalize and beautify the town core.  In 1981 the Festival of Murals was established and the first five wall murals were displayed.  This project gave this small town the name “The Little Town that Could”.

This stop on our travel day was not planned.  We later learned that there were information brochures and self guided mural walking tour.  There was even an interpretive tour with a guide that would have provided us with more information about the murals and their history.

We found a parking spot and just wandered around and enjoyed this outdoor art gallery.  There were yellow footsteps painted on the sidewalks to follow from mural to mural.  

But we saw more than enough beautiful art that one day we will plan a longer return visit.

A Colourful Stop For Murals In Chemainus On Vancouver Island

We started our walk In Heritage Square.  There we  found the “Spirit of the Earth” marble sculpture created by Daniel Cline in 1999 with the help of Ted Speirs and Marcus Carter.  The First Nations princess wore a robe adorned with wildlife from around Vancouver Island.  In that same square we found our first two murals.  

Heritage Square Spirit of the Earth.jpg
Heritage Square.jpg

The murals we found around town covered so many different topics.  And showed us some of the history of this town.

History Art.jpg
History Art.jpg
History Art.jpg
History Art.jpg

While many of the murals showed the town people at work, we also found very traditional British Columbia art that showed the local wildlife.

Wildlife Art.jpg
Wildlife Art.jpg
Wildlife Art.jpg

The murals in Chemainus on Vancouver Island took us on a journey through time.

Exploring Waterwheel Park

We stopped at Waterwheel Park and explored the colourful area.  We found the Chemainus Valley Museum with displays all about this history of the Chemainus Valley. The Fall colours were in full bloom and they coloured every scene.  

Waterwheel Park.jpg
Waterwheel Park - Chamainus Valley Museum.jpg
Waterwheel Park.jpg

We stopped at the waterwheel display.  It recognized the history of this town as a mill town with a replica of the town’s first water wheel.

Waterwheel Park.jpg
Waterwheel Park.jpg

There was a small area that showed the art of Emily Carr.   She was a Canadian artist inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Waterwheel Park - Emily Carr.jpg
Waterwheel Park - Emily Carr.jpg
Waterwheel Park - Emily Carr.jpg

We loved just wandering in Chemainus looking at its history through art.

Statues As Outdoor Art

While most of the outdoor art we found in Chemainus was murals, we also found a few outdoor sculptures that drew us in.  On our travels we visited some great outdoor sculpture gardens.  So we loved to see the variety in the statue art we found.  The statue of the two men by the pond was located in Heritage Park.

Heritage Square Statue Art.jpg

The second statue we found made David and me smile.  The statue showed a cute older couple settled onto a bench just enjoying the scenery.  It could be us some day!

Old Couple Statue Art.jpg

We were sure there were other statues around town that we missed.  And would be excited to explore more one day.

Business Have Embraced Outdoor Art

We loved all the interesting murals we found  as we walked around Chemainus.  We were delighted when we found that many businesses had embraced the artistic spirit and decorated the walls of their businesses with art too.

Business Art.jpg
Business Art.jpg
Business Art.jpg

Everyone had a stake in and shared responsibility for sharing the murals in Chemainus on Vancouver Island.

A Great Stop To Admire The Murals In Chemainus On Vancouver Island 

As we travelled south on Vancouver Island, we were entranced on our stop at Chemainus.  This small town deserved much more than a quick road trip stop.  

From Chemainus we continued south and enjoyed the drive down the Malahat on Saanich Inlet on Vancouver Island.

Have you admired the murals in Chemainus on Vancouver Island?  Did you have a favourite mural?

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  1. If I ever get to Canada this would be very high on my itinerary. I love street art and murals so this post was a delight to read. The town reminded me so much of Sheffield in Tasmania where a sleepy town has been re-invented with murals on most buildings.

  2. This is such a lovely find! I’ve never heard of Chemainus but it’s so interesting it has all these murals. The history behind them is interesting and I like that some of the art also pays tribute to the indigenous people of the land. I’m glad to discover a new place!

  3. I really like that the business have adopted a local look and decided to decorate their shops in the same artistic way. It somehow reminds me of Salzburg, where all the shops have to have the same style logos – including McDonalds. The difference is that in Austria they are obliged to do it by law. I would like to visit Chemainus and see all these murals. They are all so interesting, and I like that the art varies, from street art to statues. The autumn foliage definitely made Waterwheel Park and Emily Carr’s art to stand out.

  4. Interesting how the town’s economy was revitalized by the creation of the murals, which depict scenes from the town’s history and culture. I found the art of Emily Carr interesting – more so coz it gives a very fairytale kind of feel. And yes, those statues of outdoor art are super cute. They made me smile too. Loved the pictures that you have shared.

  5. What an interesting post! That first image of murals is totally amazing. I have admired murals all around the world more recently as I used to think of them as graffiti in my younger days. These artists are very talented as they have to draw and paint images in giant sizes and keeping the proportions right must be so challenging. The same applies to building statues. I will definitely visit Chemainus when we go to Vancouver next. 🙂

  6. Wow these murals are amazing! Love that the businesses have got involved too! I have never heard of Chemainus but will definitely add to my itinerary if I ever head that way!

  7. Wow that’s so random but also…I love that the town decided to invest in so much art! It really does beautify it, both for visitors and residents! I’d love to swing by next time I’m on Vancouver Island!

  8. Going on a mural hunt sounds like a lot of fun. Although I have been to Vancouver , it was a really long time ago and I did not come across Chemainus. What a lovely way to spend the day and autumn looks like a lovely time to visit too. I found the statues of the older couple on the bench very sweet!

    • There are some great gems if you head out to Vancouver Island when you are in Vancouver. Little towns like Chemainus have so much to offer. We loved all the art we found.

  9. As a person who admires art, Chemainus is definitely added on to my travel list. The way this murals in Chemainus depicts the history through its mural artwork is so very fascinating. Even just looking at the pictures of this murals makes me feel like I’m right there standing before the murals. The use of colors, catchy murals and stories hidden inside those murals makes me want to see more and more.

    • There was indeed a lot of lovely street art in Chemainus. The variety was intriguing and we learned a lot about this part of Vancouver Island through the art.

  10. I visited Chemainus with my grandma years ago to see some theatre and I remember how beautiful the murals are. You’ve really showcased them well! Love the little history details you’ve included too

  11. It’s the first time I hear about Chemainus, but I absolutely love that they started this whole thing already in 1981. All those murals look really nice, I particularly like the one on the Subway restaurant! Great post, once I make it to Canada I’ll definitely make sure to go to Chemainus 🙂

  12. I enjoyed reading you post. Sometimes it is like this – you find some of the best spots by accident. I also would have stopped for the murals in Chemainus – they are so colorful. A few years ago, I went to Crans-Montana, a small place in Switzerland. They also have a mural festival and now the beautiful artworks cover the town. I think this is a great concept. And I love the statues of ordinary people too!

  13. This is like having your own self guided outdoor tour of an art museum! Street art fascinates me. I love how each one is so different and tells a story.

  14. Your visit to the Chemainus in Vancouver island is extremely inspiring featuring murals painted by artists to restore the beauty of the town as “the little town that could.” And it’s also inspiring that some of the businesses embraced the artistic spirit by painting murals. The art displaying the local people at work and the wild life reflecting traditional British Columbia art is equally inspiring. The outdoor sculptures like the old couple, two men by the pond and spirit of earth look so life like and the indigenous people inspired art work by Emily Carr is mesmerizing! The fall colors at the Waterwheel park is beautiful and so is the town’s first waterwheel replica.

  15. This is very close to where we live, but for some reason I have never been. I used to know a woman who ran a festival in Cowichan but I have lost touch with her. Perhaps a road trip this summer…

  16. I love street art. I am impressed by these murals and their integration into the environment.

  17. Wow I had no idea there were so many murals on Vancouver Island. It’s nice to see how different they all are from one another – makes for some great photos and stories!

  18. Wow – those murals are truly amazing. You know that I’m very much into street art and do see a lot of murals – but these are really outstanding. I haven’t been to Canada yet but once I visit, I’ll definitely make sure to see these wonderful murals in person – hope they last till then 😉

  19. I love murals in Chemainus on Vancouver Island. I was there last August and was surprised by this beauty. My favorite one is the “Spirit of the Earth.” Before the trip, I had no idea this tiny town had so many detailed murals. Strolling its streets was a great pleasure.

    • We too were very glad we found Chemainus as we road tripped on Vancouver Island. Hard to pick a favourite mural and I am sure they are changed over time. So a good reason to re-visit.

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