Printer-friendly version   
Original News Release





Nov. 5, 2005

Parks Canada

Ministry of Environment

Cowichan Tribes




·         The Cowichan River on Vancouver Island flows 47 km from mountain-ringed Cowichan Lake through forests and fields to a large ocean estuary at Cowichan Bay.

·         Cowichan, derived from the Coast Salish word ‘Khowutzun’ means “land warmed by the sun” and ice formation on the river is rare.

·         The estuary is a wintering area for thousands of waterfowl, and salmon and trout spawn up the river and its tributaries. This provided a rich food source, and the river was a central location in the history of the Salish Aboriginal people.

·         Nominated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, the Cowichan has long played an important role with local First Nations. The area has a rich and diverse cultural history for the Cowichan Tribes and contains archaeological sites and important areas for traditional sustenance and spiritual use.

·         Today, the river valley is a homeland to the Cowichan First Nation and a recreational treasure at the doorstep of nearby communities. A footpath along its entire length and a park along 20 km of the river allow access to fishing, swimming, tubing and canoeing.

·         The Cowichan River Provincial Park protects Douglas fir and western hemlock forests and rare wild flowers. A Garry oak stand in the park may be the most westerly in Canada.

·         Wildflowers such as the endangered cup-clover have been recorded near Skutz Falls.

·         River-oriented recreation activities include wild salmon and steelhead fishing, swimming, kayaking, tubing and picnicking. Trail-based recreation activities include hiking, horseback riding, biking, wildlife viewing and nature appreciation.

·         The historic 20-kilometre Cowichan River Trail and the recently completed Trans Canada Trail (with refurbished trestles), provides access for hikers, bikers and equestrians.

·         During the early 1900s, the river also served as a transportation corridor to Lake Cowichan for local logging operations. Today, old spring board stumps, remnants of camps and rail lines testify to the area’s important logging history.

·         The natural and cultural treasures protected within this area have earned it both BC Heritage River and Canadian Heritage River status.





Brigitte Caron

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of the Environment

819 997-1441


Don McDonald

Communications Director

Ministry of Environment

250 387-9973



Steve Langdon

Field Unit Superintendent

Parks Canada, Coastal British Columbia

250 363-3511


Brennan Gohn

Communications Manager

Khowutzun Development Corporation

250 746-8350


Visit the Province's website at for online information and services.