It was just in August that the Cowichan Valley Regional District added nine new sites to its Community Heritage Register, but the CVRD board was at it again Wednesday night adding another five to the growing list, established in 2009.
“The Heritage Register can be added to at anytime,” explained CVRD Vice Chair Lori Iannidinardo.
The board voted unanimously that the Shawnigan Lake Museum, the McLay House at 5241 Koksilah Rd., Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, The Masthead, and Cowichan Lake Research Station join the region’s other 17 heritage sites, bringing the list to 22 in total.
Located in Shawnigan’s core, the Shawnigan Lake Museum was built as a fire hall in 1950 and functioned in that role until 1983. Since then it’s housed the history of the area through a variety of artifacts and through the distinctive character of the building itself.
The McLay House at 5241 Koksilah Rd. is believed to have been built in the early 20th century and the building’s integrity is what landed it on the register.
“The character of this building speaks to the Arts and Crafts movement that swept through the Cowichan Valley during this time period,” said a statement of significance. “Heritage value can be found in the well-preserved character and design.”
The home retains its original floorplan, Douglas fir flooring and exterior materials including river rock masonry, half log siding and wood window frames.
The Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre was constructed around the 1930s as a Chevron Oil warehouse but was abandoned by the company in the 1970s. It was converted to the Maritime Centre in the 1990s and was added to the list on its educational merits, its position in the original location and exterior weathered character and design of the original warehouse.
Built in 1868 as the Columbia Hotel, The Masthead is one of the oldest buildings in Cowichan Bay.
“This building provides a clear representation of the early character and design of Cowichan Bay,” said the statement of significance. “The historic integrity of the original materials, such as the glass window panes, [means] the building character is of great heritage value.”
The Cowichan Lake Research Station is described as “a large government forestry research facility of several bunkhouses, offices, and other amenities.”
Built in 1929 and added to in the 1950s, “The station represents significant development in the Cowichan Lake communities,” said the statement of significance. “The relief programs operated at the station aided the economic development of the local area and an increase in funding also benefited local infrastructure, with the development of road networks.”
Surrounded by old growth trees, the various buildings from multiple points in history give a glimpse of how growth progressed in the area over time. The site is valuable for its educational programs as well.
Despite the addition of these five, the Register is far from complete. More than 80 sites throughout the regional district are listed as “under consideration.”
Community and regional planning staff plan to continue identifying and documenting the Cowichan Valley’s significant heritage sites as a long-term project.
Visit www.cvrd.bc.ca/heritage to view the full register, to nominate a site, or to learn about the Cowichan Valley’s heritage.