Some interesting tidbits from early Chemainus:
Land for sale, 1 £per acre; no takers. That was the end result of advertisements for available land in the Chemainus valley in 1857. In November of 1858 one J. A. Grahame, a clerk for the Hudson Bay company in Fort Vancouver bought 75 acres (35 hectares) on River Road. Known as ‘Grahames’ Prairie’ or ‘Rainbow Ranch’ it is considered the first homestead in the Chemainus Country. There is no indication that he ever lived there or ever developed the property.
In 1859 the first ‘wave’ of settlers, six families of 212 applicants, settled in ‘Chemainus Prairie.’ By 1880, Chemainus Prairie’s name was known as Hall’s Crossing, named after the first owner of the Quist Farm. By 1886 the railway was put through and Captain C. E. Barkley became post-master (by general consensus). The little post office was called Westholme after the name of Captain Barkley’s house, and the name stayed. The 1861 census by the Land Office’s List of settlers names: William Robertson, George Watson, Robert Watson, James Mars, Thomas Cunningham and William Alexander Scott.
In 1863, David Wishart Mainguy bought pre-empted land along the river and mouth of the Chemainus River, as well as Mainguy and Round Island. He developed the land with barns and gardens, chicken run and pig sty. From his first shack, to his house on Mainguy Island to the house he built across the river from All Saints Church, Westholme, he can be considered one of the original settlers.
The logging industry in the Chemainus Valley had begun to bustle in 1850 and Chemainus had been a thriving native community by 1858 (considered its founding year). It was the sawmill built on Horseshoe Bay in 1862 that drew in the people. The sawmill offered as many as 500 jobs and the town was born.
Step into the past by visiting the Chemainus Valley Museum and check out the logging display. It’s located next door to the Waterwheel Park, 9799 Waterwheel Cres.