Duncan BC – City of Totems

Located in the regional district of the Cowichan Valley (population around 80,000), Duncan is a thriving city with multiple real estate districts on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Midway along the Trans-Canada Highway 1 between Nanaimo to the north and Victoria to the south, the city itself boasts a population of 4,944 according to the 2016 census. As the areas urban heart, Duncan combines a vibrant residential community with a stable commercial economic development. The BC ferry terminals at Duke Point, Departure Bay and Swartz Bay all provide the information to folks looking for real estate in Duncan.

William C. Duncan, an early settler to the region, gave the place its current name. Born in Ontario, he arrived in the area after his gold rush days, married and worked his farm, and named it Alderlea. This was the original name given to the nearby settlement that came to be called Duncan. It was 1912 when the city of Duncan was first incorporated. Kenneth, William’s son, became the town’s first mayor. A couple of streets still bear their names.

Both John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, and Robert Dunsmuir both made a stop in Alderlea / Duncan’s Crossing, during the first run of the 1886 summer opening of the railways on Vancouver Island – the Nanaimo and the Esquimalt stations. Many land titles on Vancouver island still have a 100 year old charge for a railway right of way, though it is extremely unlikely that they will be bulldozing any houses in Duncan for a new railway.

From the early part of the 20th century until being demolished in 1969, a number of the buildings in southwest Duncan housed the city’s first Chinatown and the many merchants delivering a variety of goods and services to the folks who earned their living working in the cannery, the mills, and copper mines, as well as in the logging and early agricultural industries. The current day law courts now stand here in the southwest corner of town.

The Cowichan First Nation community is large in Duncan. Part of the Coast Salish, these artistic peoples contributed the 80 plus totem poles in the 1980s that give the city its tourism slogan, City of Totems. The copyright of the areas totem images was secured and the images must have city approval if used for commercial purposes. The globally famed Cowichan sweaters industry takes its name from the nearby river, lake and Indigenous peoples in the region.

Another once prominent industry in Duncan was lumber. The dispute between the United States and Canada over softwood lumber has muted this formerly thriving enterprise but the B C Forest Discovery Center still finds its home in Duncan.

The climate in this part of the world bears a similarity to that of the Mediterranean – warm summers, cooler winters, rain to support an abundant lush green vegetation. The Duncan Farmers Market is among the largest on the island. The Cowichan river is the main waterway. It flows from the lake bearing the same name, to the east of Duncan’s urban centre.

Home to the biggest hockey stick the world has ever seen, Duncan’s July 14, 2008 record made it into the prestigious Guiness book of World Records. The colossus can be seen on the side of the Island Savings Centre. Originally made for Expo 86, Duncan bought the stick after that event.

Now a heritage building, the Duncan Garage set a record as the longest running business still in the same location. Dating from 1912, it was touted by the Canadian Motorist Magazine as the best on the island. The Malahat highway contributed to increasing traffic through Duncan and it was Norman Corfield who is credited with operating the first car to drive through in 1911. The Cowichan Valley Museum in Duncan and Archives, with support from the Cowichan Historical Society maintains the fascinating exhibits and history of this part of the world. It is well worth a visit to 130 Canada Avenue in Duncan.!

Both Education and Sports are important to the Duncan community. School District 79 Cowichan Valley includes Duncan which has a number of public elementary and middle schools as well as its public secondary school. Private, independent and a few denominational schools and pre schools in Duncan can also be found .

The Island Saving Centre is home to the Cowichan Valley Capitals hockey team, part of the BC Hockey League. The Cowichan Sportsplex hosts many league games and practices, teams and clubs alike..

The City of Duncan governing Council is always busy working on projects that enhance the safety of its residents and tourists by improving infrastructure such as water and roadworks as well as contributing to social, cultural and environmental stewardship considerations. Information about council meeting times and issues under consideration, like budgets, business improvement, garbage collection, animal control, bylaw amendments and emergency preparedness, are posted on the city’s website. Located at 200 Craig Street, City Hall is a lively place !

The business community relies on the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce for information regarding bylaws, permits and licenses. Managing, marketing and enhancing business strategies in the city benefited by the establishment of the Duncan Business Improvement Area in 1985. This sunny city continues to grow and prosper.

Contact Vancouver Island Realtor Jurgan Turner if you are looking for homes for sale in Duncan.


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  2. The best form of advertising is putting your house in your local MLS. From there it gets propagated to the feeder sites like Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow and many others, including all agent sites that incorporate MLS feeds into their site by IDX. The best part is that all of that is done automatically. The price of admission is either a negotiated commission with an agent or a flat-fee from a flat-fee listing agent. Your best marketing efforts will be done on the local or community area. You don’t have to know past clients to call them. Ask the agent for a list of houses they’ve sold, then pick a sample of houses that either took a long time to sell or had a large price reduction and then pick a few others that fall in the average. Ask the agent for their contact info and call them. People don’t mind. For recommended price and improvements, consensus rules. If the building you own is in another city, nothing changes. Everything is available on the Internet. You will have to plan a weekend trip to meet the agents and you’ll definitely want to have them walk the property with you to see their reaction and get their ideas. Study them while they are studying your building. The rest can be done from afar. It just takes a little longer. Best of luck and take your time. You’re making an important decision.

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