Duncan: Population 5,000
Roughly halfway between Nanaimo and Victoria, (50km each way) the ‘City of Totems’ is also the country’s smallest city, geographically. At two square kilometers, it is home to 80 totem poles around the community, thus the slogan.
The giant hockey stick adorning Duncan’s arena and community center isn’t the small Island community’s only claim to fame, but it’s likely the best known. The over-sized homage to Canada’s national pastime was commissioned by the federal government for the Canada Pavilion at Vancouver’s Expo ’86, and has been in Duncan since 1988, after it beat nearly three dozen other communities for the right to display it. It took two decades of lobbying, but the stick—all 63 meters and 33 tonnes of it—was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008.
Located close to the center of the Cowichan Valley, Duncan is bordered on the north by a much larger but lesser-known municipality—the sprawling District of North Cowichan, which includes the unincorporated neighbouring communities Chemainus, Crofton and Maple Bay, as well as many of the popular recreation facilities and playing fields.
A visit here often includes a stop at the Duncan Garage, a 1912 structure dedicated as a heritage building in 2002, now home to a popular coffee shop and bookstore.
Housing remains reasonable, covering a full range from high-density urban housing to newer, large-lot single-family homes and picturesque heritage homes, and always with easy access to recreation facilities and shopping necessities.