Cowichan Station is a small community in the Cowichan Valley, near Whippletree Junction, established in 1885 as a stop-off for the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. Cowichan Station was built to service settlers living in the area as well as the logging and copper mine operations located on Mount Sicker and Mount Prevost.
In 1881 Donald McPherson purchased the area that was to later become the heart of Cowichan Station. A train station was built and named after him, and in 1885 a trading post was established for the employees of the railroad contractors. In 1887 the Central Hotel, Cowichan Hotel, post office, blacksmith shop, Community Hall, and quarry were all built. The name of the community conflicted when Canada Post was later set up, and so Cowichan Station came into being in 1896.
During the boom years of 1909 to 1913 there also were 2 general stores, 2 real estate offices, 2 Chinese laundries, a smithy, shoemaker, doctor, 2 boarding houses, a hardware store, butcher shop, livery, and 2 churches (Anglican and Methodist). A fire in 1911 destroyed most of the town, and another fire destroyed the two hotels in 1924. The depression also took its toll, with the closure of many of the businesses.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that Cowichan Station lost its post office and general store, now home to South Island Tile Works. The Southern Railway of Vancouver Island train, formerly known as the E & N Train, still stops at Cowichan Station, with the railway station on Koksilah Road maintained by the local community.
Cowichan Station draws its name from an Island Halkomelem word meaning warm country or land warmed by the sun The name originated because of a large rock formation on the side of Mount Tzuhalem that supposedly resembled a frog basking in the sun. Cowichan Lake was originally known as Kaatza, the Cowichan word for big lake.
Today, Cowichan Station is an active community centred around St. Andrew’s Church that is passionate about its historical roots and excited about its future.
Location: Cowichan Station in the Cowichan Valley is located on Koksilah Road west of the Island Highway (Hwy 19), near Whippletree Junction, south of Duncan and north of Mill Bay. The Cowichan Valley is a 30-minute scenic drive from both Victoria in the south and Nanaimo in the north.