Cowichan Lake

Panaramic view of Cowichan Lake as seen from the boat launch across the street from Crown House

Known as “Kaatza” or “The Big Lake” by its native inhabitants, Lake Cowichan (Cowichan means The WArm Land”) is Vancouver Islands second biggest lake. At 30 kilometers in length and 4 kilometers wide at its widest and comprising of over 150 kilometers of coastline, there is plenty of water for all to enjoy without getting crowded. The pristine lake is the source of south-east running Cowichan River which includes Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon, a popular kayaking run. The lake remains largely undeveloped because of the extensive logging by timber companies surrounding the lake.

Travelling around the Lake west of YouBou and Honeymoon Bay is by gravel road. Not recommended for city cars, as the road is very rough in spots with large boulders and potholes (not shown) peppering the trail.

Several mill towns operated around the southern area of the lake, Honeymoon Bay, Lake Cowichan, YouBou (formerly Cottonwood) and Mesachie Lake. Only a few scattered minor mills still operate, the main ones long closed down (the last in 2001). The forestry industry in the area now focuses almost entirely on logging, as a result, shipping the logs out to be milled elsewhere (including overseas.) Tourism is beginning to replace the logging industry as people come from all over the world to experience the wonders of our temperate rainforest, with hiking, tubing, kayaking, boating, and sightseeing. The increasingly popular river tubing activity can easily fill an afternoon with an enjoyable leisurely float down our wide and slow Cowichan River on a full size tube, paddles are often recommended to help with control of the tube, especially if a breeze ends up pushing you back up the river. Contact The Tube Shack to arrange your river leisure time. They can provide you with river safe sunscreen, look after your car keys for you so you don’t accidentally drop them in the river, and pick you up at the designated pick up spot after your journey down the lazy river.

View of the north shore of the lake from the gravel logging road section.

According to legend, The Prince of Wales (later to be King Edward VIII and then The Duke of Windsor) made several visits to Cowichan Lake (first potentially in 1919 when he visited Duncan), the lake became known as Canada’s Fly Fishing Capital.

Night time at the lake.