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Cowichan Alive

Your guide to beautiful Cowichan Living

Cowichan Station

Cowichan Station 1924

The Hub of the Universe is a 100 year old school which was saved by a heroic effort from the community to use as the cultural home of the area. Cowichan Station was settled by James Mearns, James Itemingo and Arthur Todd in 1862.

In 1858 Giovanni Baptiste Ordano came to Cowichan Bay just down the road. It was generally believed that he was from Genoa. When he came from California in the 1850's he settled in the Cowichan Bay area. Across from where he was there was a small bay which he named Genoa Bay, which still exists today. His first wife died there, and he had a relationship with a native woman named Sally who had a son by him named Joseph.

The first thing Ordano did was to build the Columbia Hotel. The second thing he did was renaming Snuleave, the cove across the bay, to “Genoa Bay”. Even though he built a hotel in Cowichan Bay, he lived in Genoa Bay. He built the districts first trading post across from where the railroad station was going to be built inland. He was trying to promote trade and with the railway now coming through the population increased. Donald McPherson became the railroad section foreman, so then a station was built across for the Ordano store in 1887, and given the name “McPhersons”.

When the people of McPherson's petitioned for a post office, the government balked at the name McPherson as there was already a McPherson in the Maritime's. An alternative name was found. Cowichan Station was selected presumably as being more localized than South Cowichan, as noted the McPherson Hall was named South Cowichan. The old name of McPherson's was still in use at the turn of the century.

On the 30th of September 1886 the railway opened for passenger traffic. People could board the train at McPherson's and get to Victoria or Nanaimo quickly. The station was half way between the two cities. A village sprouted up at Cowichan Station immediately. Its future looked good. It boasted a store, hotel, two ports halls, two butchers shops, a shoemaker, a blacksmith and several boarding houses.

A mile north of the station, a quarry was opened in 1887, employing 20 to 25 men and operated until 1913. The sawn sandstone produced was used in several buildings in Victoria, including part of   Robert Dunsmuir's Castle, and the old portion of the Metropolitan United Churchon Pandora Avenue.

Cowichan Station draws its name from an Island  Halkomelem word meaning warm country or land warmed by the sun The name originated because of a large rock formation on the side of Mount Tzuhalem that supposedly resembled a frog basking in the sun. Today, Cowichan Station is an active community centred around St. Andrew’s Church that is passionate about its historical roots and excited about its future.

St. Andrew's Church Committee was formed in 1905 and construction on the Church commenced soon after its formation. St. Andrew's, Cowichan Station, was consecrated on February 8, 1906 (also known as St. Andrew's, S. Cowichan). Prior to that, the first service in the South Cowichan area was held in 1887 by the rector of St. Peter's, Quamichan in the South Cowichan Public Hall. Infrequent services continued to be held there until a church was built in 1906.

Cowichan Station is beautiful stop when visiting Vancouver Island.