Chemainus is a city in central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It's notable for the dozens of murals that transform the compact city centre into an open-air art gallery. It also has a thriving theatre festival, and various other creative arts. It's a pleasant place to visit and stroll through.

Get in

By car

The easiest way to get to Chemainus is to drive. Chemainus is located 80 km north of Victoria and 35 km south of Nanaimo along Highway 1. It is located just off the highway, and the turnoff is well marked.

By bus

Greyhound Canada operates several daily direct service to Chemainus from Nanaimo and Victoria. The fare from Nanaimo is around $10 and the fare from Victoria is around $30.

By air

The nearest planes land is now in Maple Bay harbour where Salt Spring Air flies to three times a day from Vancouver harbour and airport as well as the Gulf Islands. The land airport is in Nanaimo, BC with direct service to Vancouver and several other points in the region. It is also possible to charter a seaplane to fly into Chemainus harbour.

By rail

VIA rail operates daily morning service from Victoria to Chemainus, with a returning trip in the evening.


Chemainus is most commonly known for its murals (gargantuan paintings on the sides of the buildings). Times for the horse-drawn-buggy-tours or walking tours can be found either on Willow Street from the guides or within the Information Office near the main grocery store, Chemainus foods. Though the town is small enough to explore by foot in a single day and visit the murals by yourself, you won't get the history behind them without a tour guide.

Another activity would be to catch a late night play at the Chemainus Theatre where you can enjoy many famous and original plays preformed by experienced and up-coming actors alike. The shows can be hit or miss depending on the current talent and script selection though, so always ask the locals if the current viewings are worth it. Most tour guides and information clerks feel more or less obligated to give a positive review however, so check in with the younger service workers for an honest opinion. Regardless of the performances, the show-and-dine combination is always an interesting experience.

If you visit near the beginning or end of summer you may be able to witness one of the market days where nearly the entire town is lined with tents and stalls selling pretty much anything from quality home-made crafts to imported decorative swords and knives. It really is an interesting experience though, so plan for it if you manage to find out the dates it occurs on.



Go next

Routes through Chemainus

Vancouver Ladysmith  N  S  Duncan → Langford Victoria

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