North Cowichan, BC, incorporated as a district municipality in 1873, population 28 807 (2011c), 27 557 (2006c). The Municipality of North Cowichan is located on the east coast of VANCOUVER ISLAND about halfway between Nanaimo and Victoria. Cowichan is an Island Halkomelem word that means "warm country" or "land warmed by the sun." Within North Cowichan's boundaries are the communities of Chemainus, Maple Bay and Crofton. DUNCAN was formerly part of the district but seceded early in 1912.
The first settlers to the area were loggers who were attracted by the high quality of the timber. Many worked in lumber mills, such as the mill in Chemainus built in 1862. There was a copper smelter at Crofton from 1902 to 1908. Lumbering continues to be the district's major economic activity, with 3 of every 4 workers employed either directly or indirectly in the forest industry. In 1946 North Cowichan established its own forest reserve. The reserve provides a major source of both employment and revenue for the district, and also has recreational opportunities and a number of ecological reserves.
Faced with the imminent closure of its mill, in 1982 Chemainus began a revitalization program to encourage tourism. Chemainus now has 32 (33 were originally done) murals painted on the community's buildings depicting the early history of the area. Maple Bay is known for its natural harbour.