Painting by Russell Treloar
Used with permission

Welcome to the Shawnigan Lake Museum

Our Mission:  To connect community and visitors with the Shawnigan Lake Experience.

Our Vision:   To share the passion for Shawnigan Lake — past, present and future.
Visit us in
Shawnigan Lake Village

• Friendly guides
• Interactive displays
• Historical slide shows
• EJ Hughes Gallery
• Kinsol Trestle models

Admission by donation

Hours of Operation

The Shawnigan Lake Museum is currently closed until January 31st for admin and maintenance.
Office staff are available for help with questions and Membership renewals. Contact us by email
or leave us a message at 250-743-8675 and we will respond.

Why Museums Matter

By Paige Henry
Shawnigan Lake Museum Summer Student & Volunteer

It can be difficult to think of the past as a time that really existed. This is especially true in today’s world, where everything is in a constant state of evolution. We’ve hardly made one development or started a new trend before we move on to something else. It’s hard to think that, in some other time, everything we now consider “dated” was modern. At some point, the past was someone else’s “now.”

Museums seek to bridge the gap between ourselves and the past. They present history in its purest form and let it speak for itself. They understand that history doesn’t always need adaptation- the best way to understand it is to experience it firsthand. And stepping into a museum is one of the most authentic experiences you can get.

Museums are places to create connections, both with the past and with each other. Every country, every community, every family has their own unique story, but stories themselves don’t belong to any particular place or culture. We have told stories since the beginning of human society, and it’s crucial that we continue to do so. Stories help us discover bonds we did not know existed, forge connections between people who might otherwise have nothing in common, and make our sprawling, complicated world feel a little smaller.

Even if you’re not so interested in education, it’s hard not to respect the effort museums put into preserving objects that would otherwise be lost. In a time where many things are disposable and mass-produced, it’s strange that something as simple as a medicine bottle or cocoa can was once worth keeping. It’s largely thanks to the resourcefulness and foresight of our ancestors that we have so many artifacts left- everything was made to last, to have another use beyond its original purpose. I look at the rows of beautiful glass bottles in our museum’s mock general store and feel wistful for a time when even mundane objects were made with such care.

Despite the vital role they play, museums- especially those in small communities- don’t always get the attention they deserve. The reality is, many people don’t think of a place like Shawnigan Lake- or Canada itself, for that matter- as having a rich and complex history.

I wonder if, one hundred years from now, our descendants will preserve what we left behind. Will they create museums in honour of us? Will they go to great lengths to spread our stories?

We’d best leave them lots of stories to tell.



E.J. Hughes lived at Shawnigan Lake for over twenty years until he found it too busy and noisy (circa 1970) and moved to Cobble Hill. Hughes’s last studio, in a modest house in Duncan, was a spare bedroom, with a table and easel set close to a single north window. He painted there, in the afternoon, six days a week. Sunday was his day off.  

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Your source of information for the Kinsol Trestle at Shawnigan Lake.  Stop by the Museum on your way to/from the Kinsol Trestle. We have two scale models: one 3 foot and one 10 foot!  There are also historical and a time lapse restoration video of the Trestle for your enjoyment.

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The Last Spike was  ceremoniously placed by Sir John A.Macdonald in 1886, at Cliffside, Sir John used a silver hammer and pounded a gold spike. In 1883, the British Columbia Government appealed to Robert Dunsmuir to build a railway. The 72 miles of track, which was laid starting from Esquimalt and Nanaimo met at Mile 25 (Cliffside, Shawnigan Lake).

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Site Pages

Contact The Museum 
A program of the Shawnigan Lake Historical Society

Shawnigan Lake Museum
Box 331, 1775 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Rd , Shawnigan Lake, BC V0R 2W0
Phone: 250-743-8675
We acknowledge the financial support of the Prov of BC