Duncan, British Columbia, Canada

History | Geography : Location | Attractions | Sport | Transport

🇨🇦 Duncan is a city on southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is the smallest city by area (2.07 square kilometres, 0.8 square miles) in Canada. It was incorporated in 1912.


History The community is named after William Chalmers Duncan (born 1836 in Sarnia, Ontario). He arrived in Victoria in May 1862, then in August of that year he was one of the party of a 78 settlers which Governor Douglas took to Cowichan Bay. After going off on several gold rushes, Duncan settled close to the present City of Duncan. He married in 1876, and his son Kenneth became the first Mayor of Duncan. There is a Kenneth Street, as well as a Duncan Street, in the City.

Duncan's farm was named Alderlea, and this was the first name of the adjacent settlement. In August 1886, the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway was opened. No stop had been scheduled at Alderlea for the inaugural train bearing Sir John A. Macdonald and Robert Dunsmuir. However, at Duncan's Crossing, the level crossing nearest Alderlea, a crowd of 2,000 had assembled around a decorated arch and the train came to an unplanned halt. According to this legend, a train station was established at the settlement and the city built around it. Initially part of the District of North Cowichan, Duncan felt its needs as an urban settlement in the largely rural municipality were not being met, in particular the need to have proper roadways. After a particularly wet winter in 1911–1912, a vote was held to make Duncan a distinct city, and it was incorporated on March 4, 1912. With the enlargement of North Cowichan in the ensuing decades, there was an effort to re-unite the two municipalities, though a referndum on the matter in June 1978 was soundly defeated.

In the early 1900s, Duncan's Chinatown was the social centre for the Cowichan Valley's Chinese population. Chinatown was concentrated in a single block in the south-western corner of Duncan. At its largest point, Duncan's Chinatown included six Chinese families and 30 merchants who supplied goods and services to the loggers, millworkers, cannery and mine workers in the area. The city tore the buildings down in 1969 to build a new law courts complex. Some materials from the original buildings were used at Whippletree Junction.

In the 1980s, the city was noted in coverage related to the 1985 bombings at Narita Airport in Japan and aboard Air India Flight 182, Canada's largest murder case. Resident Inderjit Singh Reyat purchased bomb parts and a radio at Duncan stores, and used the radio to conceal the bomb. Less than two weeks prior to the bombings, Reyat and suspected Air India mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar were observed testing explosives in the woods outside of Duncan by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).


Geography: Location The city is about 45 km from both Victoria to the south and Nanaimo to the north.

Although the City of Duncan has a population of just over 5,000, it serves the Cowichan Valley which has a population of approximately 84,000, many of whom live in North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes. This gives Duncan a much larger perceived "greater" population than that contained within the city limits. People in areas of North Cowichan and bordering on Duncan usually use "Duncan" as their mailing address.

Duncan has one seat on the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board. The name Cowichan is an Anglicization of Halkomelem Quw̓utsun̓, which means "the warm land".


Attractions The City of Duncan was incorporated in 1912 and is known for one of the largest totem pole collections. The City was officially named "City of Totems" in 1985. The City had 44 totem poles in the collection, however one was destroyed in an auto accident, one was gifted to Kaikohe, New Zealand and one returned to earth. In 2007, the City of Duncan deemed copyright privileges of the totem poles. The use of the totems' images for commercial purposes requires the City of Duncan's approval. The Cowichan Historical Society (Museum) provides free totem tours in the summer months.

Duncan has a large Indigenous community and is the traditional home of the Cowichan Tribes, who are the largest band among the Coast Salish people. The Coast Salish men and women of the Cowichan Tribes are makers of the world-famous Cowichan Sweaters.

Before the Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute, Duncan and the whole Cowichan Valley were a thriving lumber centre in British Columbia.

Cowichan Community Centre is located in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of North Cowichan, and serves purpose for all citizens in the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), including swimming and skating facilities. The centre has the world's largest hockey stick which was made specifically for Expo 86 in Vancouver, and purchased by CVRD at the end of the event.

In 1911, Norman Corfield drove the first car over the Malahat Highway, opening up vehicle traffic to Duncan. Construction of the Duncan Garage Heritage Building started in 1912 and appeared in Canadian Motorist Magazine (May 1913 issue) as "The most complete and up-to-date fireproof garage on Vancouver Island". The Duncan Garage set a provincial record for the longest operating business in one location (65 years). It was designated a heritage building in 2002.


Sport The Cowichan Community Sportsplex is located on the border of Duncan, but in the Municipality of North Cowichan and is the home of the British Columbia Hockey League's Cowichan Valley Capitals, who play in the Cowichan Community Sportsplex. It is home to a number of other sports and athletics organizations including the Cowichan Valley Athletic Club's (CVAC) Jaguars one of the many clubs and teams that practice & compete out of the extensive Cowichan Sportsplex. G.T. Corfield the father of Norman Corfield (of Duncan Garage and Corfield Motors of Courtenay, Nanaimo and Pt. Alberni in the day) was one of three families ( A. Pimbury and F. Maitland-Dougall) that founded the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club in 1887. Designated a Heritage site in 1991. It still exists today. South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club


Transport The city is served by Trans-Canada Highway which connects the city to points north/south. Highway 1 through Duncan is a four-lane street with two signalized intersections (within the city limits) and a speed limit of 50 km/hr. British Columbia Highway 18 connects Duncan (via North Cowichan) to the town of Lake Cowichan to the west.

The Island Rail Corridor railway line passes through Duncan along the coast of Vancouver Island.

Public transit is provided in conjunction between BC Transit and the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System. The service provides connections from Duncan to the surrounding communities as well as regular commuter bus service to Victoria.

The Nanaimo Regional Transit System provides daily (except Sunday) bus service between Duncan and Nanaimo including a stop at the Nanaimo Airport.

Image: Adobe Stock surangaw #291070679

Duncan has a population of over 5,047 people. Duncan also forms the centre of the wider Cowichan Valley District which has a population of over 89,013 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for Duncan see: https://www.ubilabnetwork.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/UBILabNetwork

Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Duncan is: 56.3,-48.767

Locations Near: Duncan -123.7,48.7667

🇨🇦 Nanaimo -123.978,49.163 d: 48.5  

🇨🇦 Victoria -123.35,48.417 d: 46.7  

🇨🇦 Richmond -123.16,49.152 d: 58.3  

🇨🇦 Sechelt -123.75,49.467 d: 77.9  

🇨🇦 Delta -123.065,49.09 d: 58.7  

🇺🇸 Port Angeles -123.433,48.1 d: 76.7  

🇨🇦 Vancouver -123.1,49.25 d: 69.3  

🇨🇦 North Vancouver -123.075,49.321 d: 76.7  

🇨🇦 Burnaby -122.973,49.245 d: 75.1  

🇨🇦 New Westminster -122.9,49.2 d: 75.7  

Antipodal to: Duncan 56.3,-48.767

🇫🇷 Saint-Pierre 55.478,-21.342 d: 16964.7  

🇫🇷 Le Tampon 55.515,-21.278 d: 16957.7  

🇫🇷 Réunion 55.532,-21.133 d: 16941.6  

🇫🇷 Saint-Benoît 55.713,-21.034 d: 16930.9  

🇫🇷 Saint-Paul 55.27,-21.01 d: 16927.3  

🇫🇷 Saint-Paul 55.279,-21 d: 16926.2  

🇫🇷 Saint-Denis 55.457,-20.867 d: 16911.9  

🇲🇺 Mahébourg 57.7,-20.407 d: 16859.2  

🇲🇺 Curepipe 57.517,-20.317 d: 16849.7  

🇲🇺 Vacoas-Phoenix 57.493,-20.3 d: 16848  

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