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Why live in Duncan?

Duncan has a population of nearly 5,000 residents, which makes it one of the smallest cities in Canada. Despite its size, this Vancouver Island community has so much going for it. It’s extremely walkable (in fact, it’s constantly striving to make itself as walkable as possible) and has a reputation for being a social, friendly community that is welcoming to everyone. Plus, given its west coast location, you can look forward to a mild climate and plenty of natural beauty, with Lake Cowichan, Cowichan River Provincial Park, Chemainus River Provincial Park, and Salt Spring Island all being a short distance away.

Quality and diversity of education in Duncan

Cowichan Valley School District or School District No. 79 is responsible for operating public schools in the region. This includes a total of 16 elementary schools and four secondary schools, one of which is Cowichan Secondary School in Duncan. There are also several private and religious schools in Duncan, like Duncan Christian School and Queen Margaret’s School. When it comes to post-secondary options, Vancouver Island University has a Cowichan Campus that is nearby. However, residents can also take advantage of the universities and colleges offered in both Nanaimo and Victoria, since Duncan is situated roughly halfway between the two cities. Institutions in Victoria include the University of Victoria, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, Vancouver Island School of Art, and Pearson College UWC.

Most populous cities in Duncan

Due to Duncan’s small size, the city does not consist of too many distinct neighbourhoods. Rather, it is split up into quadrants - north, south, east, and west. That said, the Cowichan Valley, of which Duncan is a part, is made up of several neighbourhoods like Youbou, Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay, Crofton, Cobble Hill, Ladysmith, Chemainus, and Lake Cowichan.

Quality of infrastructure for Duncan

Duncan is served by BC Transit, which operates several bus routes in the area. There are also two main coach bus services that travel through Duncan and can take passengers to Nanaimo, Parksville, Tofino, and beyond. They are the Island Link Bus and the Vancouver Island Connector. Although Duncan does not have its own ferry terminal, it is less than 45 minutes from the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal, which connects residents with Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay Terminal. Meanwhile, you will only need to travel an hour south to be at Victoria International Airport. Cowichan Valley’s main hospital, Cowichan District Hospital, is located in Duncan. However, Victoria’s many hospitals, like the Royal Jubilee Hospital and Victoria General Hospital, as well as the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital are located nearby.

Safety and security for Duncan

The North Cowichan/Duncan detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) upholds the safety of Duncan. That said, Duncan boasts below-average crime rates across the board, making it a safe place to call home. For emergency services, dial 9-1-1.

Duncan property market

As one of the most charming places to call home on Vancouver Island, Duncan has a thriving real estate market. Due to the growing number of retirees that have moved to Duncan, along with the many families that call Duncan home, buyers will find a range of apartments, condos, bungalows, semi-detached homes, detached homes, and townhomes here.

Standard of living in Duncan

Duncan has it all. As the main economic hub of the Cowichan Valley, you will find all sorts of job opportunities, healthcare services, educational institutions, public transit, shops and dining, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Plus, due to the mild climate, residents can enjoy activities like golf, hiking, and cycling year-round. Even better, Duncan is far enough away from the Island’s major cities to feel small, secluded, and charming but is close enough to Victoria and Nanaimo for residents to benefit from the amenities that such cities offer, including the largest international airport on the island.

Something wonderful about Duncan

Duncan is known for having one of the largest totem pole collections in the world. In fact, the city was nicknamed the “City of Totems” in 1985. The city is home to over 40 totem poles in total, one of which was later gifted to the town of Kaikohe, New Zealand. As an integral part of Duncan’s culture, the Cowichan Historical Society offers free tours of the city’s totem pole collection during the summer months. In addition, since 2007, the City of Duncan has had copyright privileges for the totem poles.

Population & demographics

Total population


Population age (%)

0-19 (17%)20-34 (14%)35-49 (15%)50-64 (20%)65+ (34%)


Average household income


Household composition (%)

Single person (50%)Multi person (5%)Single Family (44%)

Owners / Renters (%)

Owners (54%)Renters (46%)

Mother Tongue (%)

English (92%)Others (4%)French (2%)German (1%)