View image of Cowichan Bay in 1945

Before 1925 the waterfront in Cowichan Bay was mostly open water with a few log boom dolphins scattered here and there and some smaller private floats for the "fish camp" accommodations along the shoreline. The Masthead building & shipyard, the Government Wharf & Ordano's store, post office and residence at the south end near the Kilpahlas Reserve also existed.

In 1922 times were changing. To quote an article in the Cowichan Leader:

"That the Imperial Oil Company realizes the importance of this district in the consumption of gasoline is evident in the fact that they purpose to erect two tanks ... next to the railroad in Duncan."

At this time the Malahat was less friendly than it is now for large trucks carrying oil so there had to be an easier way for distribution.

By July, 1925, the Leader reports:

"The Imperial Oil Company have now a branch at Cowichan Bay. Three large tanks are being erected on the old tea room site, near the yacht club. The offices will be at one end of the wharf, which will run out to deep water, as it is necessary for ships to oil at any tide.

The wharf will be about four hundred feet in length. Two scows loaded with machinery, pile driver and a large crew are at work. The work is being rushed to completion as soon as possible."

Imperial Oil was soon joined by Shell (Pier 66) and Chevron (Maritime Centre). The tanks for these oil depots were across the road and uphill from the embankment. The original Chevron wharf and jetty are still in place at the Maritime Centre and the large building at the end is erected on the platform where the barge and tug would tie up.

Imperial Oil later sold the lot and it developed into a marina, shipyard and various retail outlets. Dungeness Marina is the most recent incarnation of this storied property.


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