Settled in the 1850s by European farmers, Chemainus quickly became a major timber-milling and -shipment point, due to the town's Horseshoe Bay, the oldest deepwater port on the Canadian west coast.
Prosperity saw the building of handsome homes and a solid commercial district. By the mid-20th century, the sawmills here were among the largest in the world, fed by the seemingly unending supply of wood from Vancouver Island's vast old-growth forests.
When the mills started to talk about clsoing in 1980 - 83, the town was about to slid into decline. Economic prospects for Chemainus seemed dim around 1980 - 84 until Karl Schutz had the bright idea of hiring an artist to paint a mural depicting the town's history. Tourists took notice, and soon mural painting became the raison d'être of this town of only slightly more than 3,500 residents. It really drew me in to explore and shoot pictures.
Chemainus, is now Canada's largest permanent outdoor art gallery. Much of downtown is covered with m