One of the things I love about the idea of road trips is that they give you an opportunity to visit random towns that you probably otherwise would never visit. Chemainus was one of those places. I’d never heard of it but apparently it’s famous “world-wide” for its murals. And that’s why it was decided Chemainus was worth a look.
There are over 40 huge murals scattered around town. They give Chemainus an “artsy” feel and it’s an amusing way to wander the streets – there isn’t much else to do here so why not find as many of the murals as you can! The murals depict Chemainus’ history, including First Nations, early pioneers, and even the town’s Japanese connection. The visitor’s centre provides a map but you can also follow the yellow footsteps painted on the sidewalks. The footprints, unfortunately, aren’t a linear trail but if you see them heading in a certain direction, then you know a mural is close by.
The mural walk takes an hour or two, depending how fast you walk – they are pretty spread out. Some of the murals are really lovely. Others….not so much. It’s quite a mix bag but I was entertained looking for as many as I could (though it could just be me being easy to entertain). What I liked the most about the murals was that they were in all sorts of artistic styles so good painting or not, they are all different. I just wonder if there is a municipal law (sentence of death) against graffiti as not one of the murals were defaced, surprisingly enough. Either that or Chemainus is the town on which the movie Hot Fuzz was based….
Once you’ve had your fill of murals, make sure you have an appetite for food. Go for a Japanese meal – I recommend that you have some here as is part of the town’s history. For dessert, have some ice cream. Chemainus has a reputation for excellent ice cream and it was good. Then wander around the town as it has some interesting looking shops and galleries, a farmers’ market, pretty colourful architecture, a fantastic place for afternoon tea (Twisted Sisters Tearoom), and a miniscule ‘beach’ (it’s seriously tiny). So while Chemainus isn’t the most hopping place on Vancouver Island, it is worth an afternoon of sedate yet pleasant wandering.