Cowichan River

Feature Type:River - Watercourse of variable size, which has tributaries and flows into a body of water or a larger watercourse.
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Flows E into head of Cowichan Bay, just E of Duncan, Cowichan Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 48°45'12''N, 123°38'12''W at the approximate mouth of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92B/13
Related Maps: 92B/13

Origin Notes and History:

"Cowichan River (not Cowichin nor Cowitchin)" adopted in the 7th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 30 June 1908. See Cowichan Bay for additional information.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

"The name Cowichan is derived from the term shkewétsen, "basking in the sun" as explained in the story told by Abel Joe: "Before the flood came to the Cowichan Valley, there was a large frog on top of what is now called Cowichan or Tzouhalem Mountain [sic]. The people saw the frog up there, and its side was basking in the sun (shkewétsen). The people decided to take their name from this frog. This is how the name came about. Today, some people with good eyes can still see that frog's image on the side of the mountain, in the rock. The frog-rock is called pip'óom, little-swelled-up one"." (David L. Rozen, Abraham Joe and Abel D. Joe, "The Ethnogeography of the Cowichan River, British Columbia", unpublished manuscript, January 1977.)

Source: included with note

"INCREDIBLE FORESTS: Spars cut for Capt. Cook's ships in 1778; logs skidded by oxen in 1860; whistles blown on 'steam-pots' and 'locies' in 1900; countless products made by complex machines; all recall the continued use of B.C.'s forests and growth of the industry. Today, scientific forestry ensures, for centuries to come, the lustry cry 'Timber-r!' - - echoing in our forests." (Interpretive plaque, installed in 1966 in the grounds of the Cowichan Valley Forest Museum, 7 mile north of Duncan, by [BC] Department of Recreation and Conservation.) "The Indian inhabitants of the northwest coast possessed a way of life almost entirely dependent on the forest and fishing. Except for the fish he took from the sea, almost everything the Indian ate, wore, used, lived in and travelled in, came from the forest. The sailing nations of Europe were hardly less dependent on wood than the natives. In re-fitting their ships with local timber the members of Captain Cook's expedition were probably the first Europeans to make use of the materials of the British Columbia forests. The fur traders who followed Cook soon found it profitable to cut spars and stow them wherever they could find space among their cargoes of furs. These were sold in China or Europe where there was a great demand for them, the forests of those regions having been largely exhausted. Sample spars from British Columbia were tested in England in 1847 and found to be longer, straighter and stronger than the Baltic type then being used in the British navy. The first ship was then sent specially to gather spars but was seized by American Customs for cutting in U.S. territory. Unable to free his ship the captain travelled to Fort Rupert where he cut a large quantity of wood. Although of an uncommon length and straightness these spars remained where they lay and after several years of attempting to get them shipped to England the captain was informed that the Admiralty had all the spars they needed. The modern forest industry began in 1848 when the Hudson's Bay Company constructed the first sawmill in British Columbia on Millstream at the head of Esquimalt Harbour. Intended to serve the needs of Fort Victoria, the mill also shipped lumber to the mainland and San Francisco. A second mill was set up at Sooke in 1850. A few years later it became the first to be converted from water power to steam and it flourished until 1892. One of the most important of the early mills was that started by Captain Edward Stamp at Alberni in 1861, the third steam-powered mill on Vancouver Island." (125 Stops of Interest in Beautiful British Columbia, by David E. Gill; an interpretive guide to the "Stop of Interest" plaques installed by the Historic Parks and Sites Division of the Provincial Parks Branch; Frontier Publishing Company, Aldergrove, 1979.)

Source: included with note