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Ladysmith Day-Trip Diary #1: Chemainus

Vancouver Island is FULL of wonders, and Ladysmith is in the middle of it all!

Drive time from Ladysmith: less than 10 minutes

Getting There from Ladysmith: A quick, panoramic oceanside drive from Ladysmith, down the appropriately-named Chemainus Road, lies the idyllic town of Chemainus. This charming community of around 3,000 folks is famous for its outdoor “gallery” of over three dozen painted murals on the sides of local buildings. Chemainus also has an excellent theatre in a grandiose domed building. In 2006, a Boeing 737 airplane was sunk off the coast to form an artificial reef about a hundred feet down. It’s quite popular with free divers!

If you have the time, though, another great way to get to Chemainus from Ladysmith is to walk, hike, run, or bike along the Cowichan Valley Trail, a relatively wide, flat gravel pathway that winds through lush rolling farmlands, three types of forest (BC Maple, random coniferous, and the other kind – I’m not a botanist…), and some lovely residential back yards. Along the way you may see some deer, some bunnies – essentially the whole cast of Bambi – and also some horseback riders, cyclists and other assorted wanderers.

Along the Cowichan Valley Trail

There’s also a seven-foot-tall carving of a mother heron with her babies, just incongruously installed in someone’s backyard.

Heron statue along the Cowichan Valley Trail from Ladysmith to Chemainus

From the Coronation Mall parking lot in Ladysmith, you head down the bike path alongside Chemainus Road until just past Gourlay Janes Park, a relatively undiscovered gem down by the water. After that you cross the road (carefully!) and hit the trail proper. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you pass the lemonade stand.

Roughly 9km along the trail from your start at Coronation Mall, you’ll reach the Sawmill Taphouse at the outskirts of Chemainus – definitely worth a stop. They have a couple dozen Pacific Northwest craft beers on offer, and you can get a sampler “flight” of six half pints (they call it “tap dancing”) to go along with your oven-fired pizza or farm-to-table tapas. 

About a kilometer further on, once you’re in the town proper, you’ll want to check out the Water Wheel Park for some shade and rest – sometimes there’s music on the bandstand, and you can also get on a horse-drawn carriage or trolley tour of the world-famous murals around town! (Fun fact – I used to be a mural tour guide, way WAAYY back in the day!)

Water Wheel Park in Chemainus

And no trip to Chemainus would be compete without tickets to a show at the Chemainus Theatre Festival. Performances run year-round; be sure to get dinner reservations as well, the buffet is fantastic but the desserts are to die for.

Chemainus Theatre Festival Building

So there you have a great day out from Ladysmith – down the road or on the trail – in lovely Chemainus!

Thanks for reading!

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Home Buying 101, Part 1: Is it Right for You?

Big decision, right? Other than popping the question to your one true love, buying a home is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. You’re going to need to do some serious research, and learn a TON of stuff. But that’s okay – I’ve got your back! We’re going to start out with the basics, and work our way through this process together. First up: is buying a home right for you?

Everyone needs a place to live, and you more or less have two options – you can rent, or you can buy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both – so let’s explore those options! We’re going to break it down into four sections – the advantages and disadvantages of renting, and the advantages and disadvantages of owning a home.


  • You have the freedom to move or downsize when you want, once the lease expires.
  • You have the ability to put your money into other investments with potentially higher gains.
  • You don’t have to maintain the property.
  • You may have fewer expenses that might be paid by the landlord, i.e. utilities.
  • There is no major down payment required, except for the deposit.
  • Your rental payment may be lower than a mortgage payment.
  • You don’t have to pay real estate taxes, such as property taxes.
  • Your rental may have free amenities, such as a pool or a gym.
  • Studies have shown that a disciplined renter can build as much wealth as a homeowner.


  • You may be paying more in rent than you would in a mortgage.
  • You have no equity when you’re renting – there is no ownership or wealth creation; all your rent money goes to the landlord.
  • The payments never stop when you’re renting – with a mortgage, eventually you own your home
  • Rents will increase likely over time, once your lease expires.
  • You have to deal with a landlord or property management company – want to paint a wall? Tear one down? Get a new fridge? Sometimes it can be tricky.
  • There are no tax advantages to renting.

If you’re considering buying a home for the first time, chances are that you’re already familiar with the above advantages and disadvantages of renting, because that’s what you’ve been doing for a while now. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of home ownership next.


  • You can build home equity and wealth. It’s really the biggest investment most people make.
  • Your house, your rules – no landlord. Paint that wall, build that deck!
  • As long as you’re smart with it, a mortgage can improve your credit score.
  • You have the ability to borrow money against the value of your home (a home equity loan).
  • Eventually, there are no more payments once the mortgage is paid off (in the long term).
  • There are no capital gains taxes when you sell your primary residence.
  • It’s a kind of insurance against inflation – the house increases in value as the dollar decreases in purchasing value over time.
  • Paying your mortgage every month (or two weeks) is a ‘forced’ savings plan, so you become more financially responsible.
  • When you sell your home, you can use the proceeds to buy a bigger, better home, one that fits your lifestyle needs over time.


  • There is a sizeable down payment required depending on your choice and income level.
  • Home prices can lose their value in a tough economy.
  • Not everyone qualifies for a mortgage, and obtaining one can be a hassle at times
  • In addition to your mortgage payment, you’ll have to pay property taxes and get homeowner’s insurance as well.
  • There are significant legal and closing costs on buying a house.
  • Mortgage payments can rise with interest rate increases after the term.
  • Maintenance costs can be excessive, depending on the age of the home.

So there it is, all laid out for you. The decision is yours – but first, to help you decide, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you financially stable? 
  2. Do you have the financial skills and the self-discipline to make a home purchase work?
  3. Are you aware of ALL the costs and responsibilities of being a home owner?

If the answer to the above three questions is ‘yes’, and you feel that the advantages of home ownership outweigh the disadvantages, then buying a home may be right for you. In part 2 of this Home Buying 101 series, we’ll explore the financial side of home ownership, and help you understand if you’re financially ready to own a home.

Thanks for reading!