The themes of “In Tune With Nature,” painted on the inner and outer surfaces of a purpose-built enclosure, are nature and music. The exterior features a lush forest scene with some of its interested denizens keeping watch, with the music of the forest wending its way through the surroundings. The musical score is from What a Wonderful World popularized by Louis Armstrong.
In 1958, a towering 250-foot Douglas fir began an arduous trek down Copper Canyon on two logging trucks, in what was the start of an 8,829-mile journey from Chemainus to the River Thames in London.
In 2011, the Silver Mine on Chemainus commissioned local artist Terry Chapman to construct a 3-D mural. The mural depicts a scene from Lenora Mines, nearest the base of Mt. Sicker; the local miner emerging from the mine’s black tunnel.
The mural is a two part ‘story’ of a typical outdoor Chemainus community gathering, with Mount Brenton in the background, set in the late 1800s.
Former Chemainus Mayor Graham Bruce and former BC Premier The Honourable Bill Vander Zalm are shown cutting the ribbon to officially open the Chemainus Downtown Revitalization Project on April 23, 1982.
The climate of Vancouver Island has changed over time. Locals can remember when winters brought snow and on occasion Fuller Lake, south of town, froze over.
This highly symbolic mural features two Second World War veterans passing the torch to the younger generation. Passing the torch is from the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by John McCrae in 1915.
This mural depicts the Star Novelty Works bicycle shop at the corner of Oak and Maple Streets at the end of the 19th century.
Charlie Abbott arrived in Chemainus sometime in the 1970s (nobody knows exactly when or why), and wandered into the deep, green forest surrounding this small community where he spent the rest of his life. Old and bent with age, Charlie lived alone in the woods. He came to appreciate and love the forest, its wild inhabitants, and the changing seasons. For the few people that knew of his existence, he was simply called “The Hermit”.
First Chemainus Sawmill 1862 was Verity Dewar’s third mural, one she thought of as a delightful challenge. While she was aware it is very unlikely that the old sawmill was ever as brightly painted as she depicted it, the positioning of the mural wall amongst the lovely dark trees and the shaded pathway within the park led her to be a bit whimsical in the treatment of her subject.
“This was a commission I was thrilled to win, for several reasons. First, the subject was very close to my heart – I have read many books on the First World War and spent hours in London’s Imperial War Museum imagining the horror of it, as well as listening to my grandfather’s memories of his years in the trenches. Secondly, I had wanted to do a Chemainus mural ever since I discovered the town when I arrived from England – and here was one I could really get my teeth into!”
Many newcomers from China worked in the mines at Mt. Sicker. Among them was Shong Hai Chang, who opened a general store before the turn of the 20th century. He called it “Sam Yick Kee” (“three benefits”). The mural portrays the store operated by his son, Ning Chang, (the first Chinese child born in Chemainus, 1913). The street scene illustrates this popular meeting place and focal point for Chinese immigrants supplying commodities and foods imported directly from China. The Changs also operated a piggery and sold meat to local markets.
The telephone appeared in Chemainus in 1908. The first telephone company offices were located in a private house on Maple Street but moved seven years later to larger premises. The Victorian residence pictured here served as the telephone exchange for 30 telephones in the community, and was home to Daisy Bonde, pictured on the left. Daisy ran the exchange as a supervisor. Standing at her side is Sophia Horton (Syme), the first paid operator to work at the exchange.
The deep blues and purples of the sea and mountains on the left flank the solemn portrait of Mill Manager John Humbird, who in 1924 oversaw the building of the fourth Chemainus mill, one of the largest of its kind in the world.
A huge, foreshortened iron horse steams and belches dark smoke as it leaps out of its frame and almost off the wall of Dan Sawatzky’s former home and studio. The subject, a working engine operating in the Chemainus area early in the 20th century, is of particular interest to the artist, who has always been fascinated by trains.
Hints of the pristine coastline, heavily treed and dripping green, peep out from behind a glimmering impressionistic image of the brigantine Spirit of Chemainus. The suggestion of activity on the deck, with five faceless figures, symbolizes an earlier time when such vessels were commonly seen in Chemainus Bay, and indeed all along the coast of BC.
Patriotic feelings ran high as many men from Chemainus and area scrambled to join up soon after war was declared. By the end of September 1914, the mill had closed due to the war’s impact on shipping, convincing many more volunteers to enlist.
This sawmill was the second to be built on the same site. Constructed in 1879 by T.G. Askew, it was converted to steam power by Croft & Severne in 1883. The mural is based on a photograph in 1886.
In a panoramic view of Chemainus Harbour, this mural captures the colourful memories of the old logging community. Lumber is stacked up along the far hill, waiting to be loaded onto the tall ships and steamers at anchor in the harbour. Chemainus Hospital appears on the left.
This painting is a montage of historic buildings and events in the area between 1883 and 1939.
The first building on the left of old Mill Street was used as a Post Office until 1927. That year, streetlights made their first appearance in Chemainus, with power provided by the V L & M Co. Ltd.
Julia Askew was the first of seven children born in Chemainus to Thomas George and Isabel Julia Askew. An older brother was born in Victoria two years earlier, but Julia was the first child actually born in the young community of Chemainus. She was delivered on February 22, 1871 at Horseshoe Bay, with a Native midwife in attendance.
In 1883, the first public school in Chemainus was built next to the route of the E&N Railway. The mural is based on an 1885 photograph.
Many Chinese people had been enticed to the west coast of Canada as labourers in the late 1800s. A number settled in Chemainus with the promise of steady work in the lumber industry.