DUNCAN, city, pop 4,986 (2006), lies in the Cowichan Valley on the east side of VANCOUVER ISLAND about halfway between VICTORIA and NANAIMO. In 1864 William Chalmers Duncan, a native of Sarnia, ON, settled on 40 ha of land near COWICHAN BAY, most of which now comprises downtown Duncan. In 1887 the ESQUIMALT & NANAIMO RWY built a station on his land and a village named Alderlea developed around it. When a post office opened in 1891 it was called Duncan's Station, later shortened to Duncan. Between 1898 and 1908 there was a flurry of MINING activity at nearby Mt SICKER and the community boomed. It was incorporated as a city on 4 Mar 1912, when it separated from the district of NORTH COWICHAN. Once described as "the Most English Town in Canada," it had a preponderance of British residents who felt strong ties to the old country. When WWI began, so many young men enlisted for overseas service that Duncan earned a reputation for contributing more soldiers per capita to the war than any other community in Canada. Following the war the city grew slowly as the business centre for AGRICULTURE and LOGGING activities in the Cowichan Valley; gradually Duncan's British flavour blended with others. Since 1985, TOTEM POLES have been erected around the city, which began to call itself the City of Totems.

Reading: Tom Henry, Small City in the Big Valley, 1999.