The Cowichan Maritime Centre is an active community-based maritime museum and the home of the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society which preserves, exhibits and demonstrates the Maritime heritage and culture of wooden boats, especially as experienced on Canada’s West Coast. The Society was originally conceived in the 1970s as a wooden boat-building centre but has expanded its role to become a maritime centre, a museum and a wooden boat workshop.
The Society was started in 1987 by four men: Rob Fox, Keith Sandilands, Paul Mitchell and Bob Down. On March 12, 1988 an agreement was signed with the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing which gave the Society a 30 year lease on the former Chevron fuel dock - $1 for the entire 30 years - we thought we had to pay another dollar the second year so sent one in only to have it returned. The pier was built and officially opened on June 2, 1989 by Graham Bruce, MLA and Tom Siddon, Minister of Fisheries.
The first three pier exhibits are open at each end which allows the public to walk through and view the displays. The end gallery is a two level enclosed unit which contains many of the more environmentally sensitive artifacts such as model boats, pictures and a marine library.
In addition to the exhibits and museum the Centre holds wooden boat building classes in its superbly equipped workshop.
The Society also operates an historic marine ways for the hauling and cleaning of boats and maintains a small fleet of traditional small craft.
We are home to the Cowichan Valley Dragon Divas, a group of cancer survivors who train and race their Dragon Boats right in Cowichan Bay.
Over 10,000 visitors tour our facility annually from all over the world. We have over 250 members.
All of our activities are economic generators for the community. This area was traditionally fishing and logging environment. Due to economic changes, the need for a tourism venue to attract both locals and tourists is essential to the future of the businesses in Cowichan Bay.