It was a damp, grey and rather dreary spring afternoon when Mrs. Toad and I found ourselves coming into the wonderful little character town of Chemainus here on Vancouver Island.  The colors were somewhat muted by the thick rain clouds that lingered overhead.  It was a good day to photograph the wonderful Victorian styled character homes of the town, bringing us back to our very roots in photography by inspiring us to spend some time with that which we love so much here on the island; our local architecture.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

As you come into town a row of these simply beautiful homes comes into focus.  They have been beckoning us to photograph them for years now.  Each one is unique, yet as a group they all share marked similarities that bring them together in community.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Each house has its own color scheme, which is likely chosen carefully to be highly sympathetic for the times the homes were designed and built.  Peaked roofs and wonderful details make each one stand out, while at the same time being a part of a collection.  This one was likely converted to a duplex at some point, turning one wonderful home into two.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Some have slightly weathered features worn with pride that embody the years of life and love experienced within the walls.  Each one has been modified, added onto, over time with personal features that make the home both unique and unlike any other, as well as creating a space that is literally customized for the family that inhabited it.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Some are very brightly painted with colors that exude the personalities of those who own them.  This home features a wide bevy of architectural features which appear to be customized by a highly skilled woodworker.  Some of these features are referred to as “Victorian Lace” for obvious reasons.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

This one is a home and is host to a small local business.  If you look carefully you can see additions that have been added on, likely over time as needs and the families changed.  The colors are bright and cheerful, as are the residents of Chemainus, creating a happy and inviting feel.  It’s easy to imagine yourself visiting this shop and spending hours exploring the wares displayed within.  An entire afternoon can melt before your very eyes.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Some of the homes have received very tasteful contemporary renovations, all the while maintaining that special link to the Victorian era that makes them what they are today.

Victorian Heritage Character House - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victorian Heritage Character House – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

For some people, this is an old house for sale.  For us this is a dream just waiting to be discovered.  These homes are a lot bigger inside than they look from the outside, this one having around 2,000 square feet in it.  It is so easy to imagine a summer’s evening spent on the porch in a chair with your favorite beverage, watching the townsfolk and visitors alike as they pass by.  This is a sure-fired way of making new friends, not to mention the wonderful lifestyle that you would have living in a small close-knit town on Vancouver Island.

Chemainus Theatre Festival - Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Chemainus Theatre Festival – Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

A literal stroll across the street and you find yourself visiting one of Vancouver Island’s best treasures, the Chemainus Theatre Festival.  We’ve been many times ourselves for a gala evening of a black tie dinner accompanied by a lovely pianist, then followed by a wonderful evening of live theatre in a very intimate setting.  There is simply no better way to spend some time.

It’s truly amazing what you can find in your own backyard if you open your mind to look for it.  The tiny town of Chemainus has a wonderful back-story to it, now it’s colloquially known as “The Little Town That Did“© through an entire revitalization process.  In the summer, the town is full of locals and visitors alike, all coming to experience the unique feel and offerings that are found here, and in the winters the town leaves you feeling as if you’ve discovered a wonderful secret that is yours alone to explore and experience.

Thanks for popping by to visit us here at The Hollow today, we really appreciate it!  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please do feel free to leave us any comments you may have below!




  1. avatar Edith Levy says:

    OMG what charming homes. I would love to explore there. Wonderful shots Toad and I’ve missed you. Where have you been?

    • Hi Edith!! So good to see you here today, thank you for taking the time to pop by!! I am so sorry for being a little quiet lately, I’ve been working around the clock and haven’t had as much time as I would have liked for sharing stories and photos here. I’ve recently had to focus on writing our Light Stalking articles as that’s really all I’ve had time for in the world of photography. I hope this will soon pass and I can return a little more frequently here. It sure is good to know that we’ve got such wonderful friends as you who’ve missed us, you made my whole day Edith!!!! Best wishes to you and your family from us Toads here! 😀

  2. avatar Jenny Nelson says:

    We’ve missed your posts, too! I was happy to see these lovely Chemainus houses, and pleased that they appear well-loved and maintained. Although that may be more due to your photography skills than anything else. 🙂 Wishing you both the very very best, as always.

    • Jenny, it’s always a huge delight for us to see you pop by The Hollow here, thank you so very much my friend! Hope all is well for you guys, we’re hoping we might have a chance to see you this summer if you’re in the area?

  3. You may have taken a short break but your wonderful prose has not suffered for it. This looks like a great place to spend some time wandering and just taking in the sights, with or without a camera.

  4. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    I just love old Victorian houses and these images certainly show why. Terrific Toad.

  5. These are awesome, hard to pick a favorite! Well done, beautiful homes for sure and very unique

  6. avatar Obucu says:

    I love this style houses. In addition, photos are very beautiful and alive.