Shawnigan Lake BC Real Estate & Attractions



About Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia

Shawnigan Lake has been inhabited by Aboriginal Peoples for thousands of years. Its aboriginal name in the Hunquminumis language is Shaanii’us. Prior to 1883 the area was mostly a vast wilderness with supplies only being received once a week to Cowichan Bay by steamship. The remoteness of Shawnigan Lake changed drastically with the completion of a railway from Esquimalt to Nanaimo in 1886. Shortly thereafter a mill was built and regular supplies, visitors, and new settlers began arriving in earnest.
By 1990 tourism became the area’s newest thriving industry. With two new hotels, visitors would regularly make the trip from Victoria by train. After Shawnigan Lake’s mill burned down (for the 3rd time) the forest industry finally closed in the mid twentieth century. One can still see parts of the old mill in Shawnigan’s Old Mill Park. Via Rail Canada operated the passenger line twice daily until is ceased operations in 2011.

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Real Estate in Shawnigan Lake, BC

The Shawnigan Lake real estate market is a sound investment in today’s economy. With its close proximity to Victoria buyers are attracted to the affordability of a home that includes property with enough space for growing families. It is still possible to acquire a single family home for around the $400,000 mark.

There are several reasons why potential buyers are drawn to this area including:

  • Well respected schools
  • Opportunities for higher education
  • Amenities
  • Wide variety of sports and other recreational activities

Another factor that contributes to both families and retirees looking to settle in the area include amenities like its family practice medical clinic and retail outlets that are close by such as a Wal-Mart, Superstore and Costco.

All these factors combined result in being able to enjoy a quality of life in a pristine natural setting while being able to access all the amenities and recreational opportunities of larger urban areas that families are looking for.


Shawnigan Lake Attractions and Resources

The lake itself is approximately 8 km long and surrounded by forested hills with summer cottages and permanent homes along much of the lakeshore. The Town of Shawnigan Lake enjoys a thriving tourist industry as it has for more than a century.  With the wide range of recreational activities, visitors make their way to the area by floatplane, boat, and car. Some of the many activities that both tourists and residents can enjoy include:

  • Swimming in the warm summer waters
  • Fishing in the well stocked lake
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Cycling & mountain biking
  • Bird & wildlife watching

Shawnigan Lake is served by School District 79 with classes from kindergarten to grade 12. There is also a well respected private school as well as a College which is just a few minutes drive from town.

Policing is Shawnigan Lake is the responsibility of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and garbage collection/recycling run by the CVRD (Cowichan Valley Regional District).

Whether it’s a leisurely walk along the beach, indoor sporting activities, or outdoor adventures, Shawnigan Lake offers a multitude of things to do for all age groups. With 14 parks in the area offering almost limitless activities and community events, it’s little wonder that the population of Shawnigan Lake almost doubles in the summer months.

For more detailed information about attractions, resources and things to do in Shawnigan Lake BC, click on the PLUS sign beside “Shawnigan Lake Attractions” below.

Local Resources and Information


Shawnigan Lake Attractions

Koksilah River Provincial Park

Located just west of Shawnigan Lake on southern Vancouver Island, Koksilah River Provincial Park is 210 hectares of pristine parkland. The park is part of the Vancouver Island Forest Reserve and showcases the rugged beauty that exists throughout Vancouver Island.  The terrain is varied and is perfect for leisurely walks and picnics along the river or more challenging hikes along well worn paths.

The park is frequented by residents of the area who hike along the trails and never get tired of taking in some magnificent views that span the riverside. Canoeing, cycling and kayaking are also popular and ideal outdoor activities in this provincial park.

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Memory Island Provincial Park

Memory Island Provincial Park is a gem of an island located on Shawnigan Lake on southern Vancouver Island. It is a sanctuary for local breeding birds and a habitat for a variety of small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and plants.

Access to the island is by water only and has a day-use picnic area along with some well traveled paths for exploring. It is a tranquil spot for taking in the beauty of the area and observing wildlife in their natural habitat.

There are a number of towns in the area such as Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay, and others that are worth exploring for their own unique outdoor adventures.

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Shawnigan Lake Museum

Shawnigan Lake Museum is located in the mostly rural town of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, about 45 km north of Victoria. This Museum holds the key to the history of this picturesque town and how it has developed over the years. Admission to both the Museum and presents is by donation.

They host a ‘Summer Series’ of presentations such as the geology of the area and island in general as well as a great presentation about the Strathcona Lodge School for Girls run by Minna Gildea. On display are area artifacts and interactive displays that are appropriate for all ages. With beaches, day-use parks, and even fresh sushi, it’s easy to spend a day or two exploring the beauty and history of Shawnigan Lake.

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West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park

West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park is a day-use park as well as a sanctuary for Douglas fir forest. With beach access, waters stocked with trout, paddling, and picnicking, it’s little wonder that the park is a popular spot to spend the day with family and friends.

This Vancouver Island Park is located north of Victoria and close to a number of communities like Cowichan, Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, and others, all of which offer a host of things to do and see. Some of the activities available at this provincial park include waterskiing, canoeing, and windsurfing. Dogs are also welcome at the park as long as they are kept on a leash.

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