A Cowichan Holiday Guide
Updated: Nov 17
As the leaves turn and the weather cools, we are all spending a little more time indoors, especially considering… you know… that virus going around. Do not let that spoil this special time of year though! After all, we’re finally in the homestretch of this truly “exceptional” year. Here at Buy Local Cowichan, we’ve put together a collection of places to visit and ideas for your gift-giving this winter.
What To Buy To Make Your Holiday Island Good
We all know the importance of shopping local this holiday season, and the Island Good brand makes it easy for you to find local products. Look for the logo in stores, or visit IslandGood.ca for a list of retailers and producers near you. With the huge variety of Island Good members in Cowichan, there’s something for everyone on your gift-giving list. Mix and match products to create a locally-inspired gift basket. Our Island Good basket includes:
Enameling on Steel Orca Bookmark
Cowichan Milk Gift Card
You love where you live. Show your pride by making your holiday gift-giving Island Good. It’s good for the economy, good for jobs, good for the environment, and good for the community!
Economic Development Cowichan and Community Futures have partnered with the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance to offer local companies a free Island Good license. Cowichan-based producers, processors, distributors, and retailers may qualify for a free one-year Island Good license – available on a first-come-first-served basis until the funding is spent.
Visit IslandGood.ca to apply.
Where To Go in Cowichan To Enjoy The Holidays
1) The Duncan Farmers’ Market
The Duncan Farmers’ Market will be present in the Duncan City Square Sunday, December 13th as well as Saturday, December 12th this year, from 10am – 2pm! This presents the perfect opportunity to pick up local artisan crafts for gifts - and also to start thinking about delicious local produce for a holiday meal. For a vendor that specializes in permaculture, visit Boots n’ Roots. Owned by Kelly Grainger, Boots ‘n’ Roots farm has for four years been practicing sustainable and regenerative farming, working in harmony with the land to produce nutritious crops for the community year-round. They use farming techniques that go beyond organic requirements. Boots ‘n’ Roots sequester carbon and build up the health of the soils, creating quality compost and making the land a healthier area for native insects and wildlife. Comfrey is grown on-site to add nitrogen to the soil, and the leaves are harvested and made into a tea to be used as a soil amendment. Toxic sprays have never been used!
Over the winter, Boots n Roots will offer greens growing in the unheated greenhouses, micro-greens, and storage items such as potatoes and squash. They also raise non- GMO roasting chickens and eggs. Boots ‘n’ Roots sells their produce at the Duncan Market year-round, as well as at a farmgate stand that is open daily. They also offer a flexible Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, called ‘You Choose CSA’. The CSA program runs all year and works like a reloadable card. The current offerings are updated on the Boots n Roots Facebook page regularly, to let the community know what has been happening at the farm, and how the season is progressing. Additionally, their products are sold on Cow-Op (www.cow-op.ca) each week, which is an online farmer’s market with many other local offerings. When planning your holiday feast, explore such great local options as these first!
2) Cowichan Lake
Every year, the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Cowichan Country Grocer host a Santa Parade and a meet and greet with Santa at Saywell Park on the last Sunday of November. While a Santa Parade and meet and greet with Santa is out of the question due to COVID-19, the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce will be bringing joy to the community with a safe Christmas “event” for families, which will take place on November 29th. For this event, the Visitor Centre Staff have created a total of 100 DIY fun artsy easels and the art group Cowichan Lake Arts & Culture Society and Spirit Brush Art Studio will be donating canvases so we can put them together as packages for families in the community to take home. Lake Cowichan Country Grocer will be pre-packaging together oranges, candy canes, and cookies for each child that comes in (while supplies last) and they will have an opportunity to get a picture in front of the Whimsical Santa from a distance. We are still doing a Christmas Light Decorating Contest as well.
Chemainus is hosting an exciting holiday shopping event called Moonlight Madness Extended on November 27th and 28th. It is filled with deep in-store discounts, giveaways, spot prizes, feature menus, and so much more. With social distancing in mind, the popular event has been scheduled over two full days. Plus, kids can come and peek through our magic snow globe once the sun sets to see Santa busy working away in his shop and drop off their letters for him. Plus, we will have our Holiday Passport promotion running from November 16 – December 20. With every $10 or more spent, you will receive a stamp. Collect 5 stamps and be entered to win a $250 gift certificate. Go to visitchemainus.ca for more information.
4) Downtown Duncan
Christmas in Duncan may be different this year, but it will still be special! Although the traditional Christmas Kick-Off! celebration on November 27th is canceled due to public health and safety measures, downtown Duncan will be fully decorated to offer an exceptional shopping experience this year. From festive windows - full with lights, trees, local art displays from Vision Art Group, and a Christmas story walk with the Vancouver Island Regional Library - to a special light display in the Station Street Common and City Square starting November 27th, a particularly lively trip downtown awaits those looking to support small businesses while gift-giving this year. Start your shopping at the Judy Hill Gallery on November 27th for 40% off all sterling silver jewellery. In addition to the jewellery, this high-quality gallery sells beautiful Pacific Northwest Coast art including art printed on mugs and face masks. Alongside such classic downtown retailers as The Judy Hill Gallery, there are lots of new businesses to discover. Just next door to the Judy Hill Gallery, there is a brand-new first aid and medical supplies shop, Medix, which offers emergency supply kits, N-95 masks, and Clorox wipes, among other necessities. If you continue along Canada Avenue, you will find The Agency, a real estate and development service. Or, head over to 446 Jubilee Street for some thrifting - W.I.N.G.S has re-opened at a new location. Whether you are discovering new businesses or visiting old classics like Wishes, the Red Balloon, Cardino Shoes, or Outlooks for Men, downtown Duncan is a sure-fire spot to find gifts in a fully lit up ambiance. Come see for yourself!
Downtown Ladysmith will be offering late night shopping until 7pm starting November 20th. There will be two selfie stations displayed, one in front of Ironworks Cafe and Creperie and the other right downtown!
The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery will be warming up for the Christmas shopping season with a fundraiser for the gallery hosted in downtown Ladysmith on November 27th from 5pm - 7pm. There will be handcrafted mugs for sale with coupons for hot chocolate at Ironworks Cafe and Creperie.
Looking for ornaments for Christmas? The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery has you covered there too. All ages are welcome to join artist Joe Lyons at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery on November 28th from 1-3pm to make and paint clay ornaments in a socially distanced setting, so you can hang your own decorations on your tree this year! The class costs $35 and you will receive your ornaments after Mr. Lyons fires and glazes them on December 13th!
For more information or to sign up, call (250) 245-1252 or visit ladysmitharts.ca - and while you are on their website, look out for handmade wreaths by florist Dorothy Freeson for sale available for pick up starting November 11th.
6) Hand Of Man Museum
What destination in the Cowichan Valley is open 365 days a year – including Christmas day! - and showcases a 37 footlong giganotosaurus? The Hand of Man Museum at 6759 Considine Road in Maple Bay! Owned by Jim Shockey, the Museum of Natural History, Cultural Arts and Conservation has been open since 2018 and operates on admission on donation. “You will go from doorway to doorway, each leading to a wonderful discovery,” Shockey says of the museum and world-class library.
However you choose to celebrate the holidays this winter! We here at Buy Local Cowichan are wishing you good health and joy for you and your family.
All the best!
Buy Local Cowichan