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Where to next on Vancouver Island: Shawnigan Lake Museum

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The Big Stories in this Little Museum will surprise you

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The Shawnigan Lake Museum may look small from the outside, but inside the story is big! The museum is a great destination for visitors to Shawnigan Lake, and a place where the community can come to connect and reconnect with their past.

With a 5 star rating on Trip Advisor; Google and Facebook it’s easy to let the others do the talking–here is a recent review: Shawnigan Lake Museum is an unqualified 5/5 visitor experience. I’ve visited many museums large and small throughout my career in heritage preservation, so I have perspective and understanding of the challenges that museums face. These days we are constantly told that things are being “curated” for us, often without merit, but this place actually is curated in keeping with the original and correct meaning of the word. Quality artifacts are beautifully displayed and the personalized guidance is exceptional…

Old time movie theatre in Shawnigan Lake MuseumThe Shawnigan Lake Historical Society was incorporated in 1977. The purpose of the society was to open a museum. To that end, they immediately started collecting. The museum opened, in 1983, in the original Shawnigan Lake Fire Hall.

Shawnigan Lake has a surprising history of people, places and events. Drop in for extensive information on the spectacular Kinsol Trestle; renowned Canadian artist EJ Hughes; the true Canadian Last Spike, and many other significant stories from the history of the area.

The museum offers programming for school field trips; pro-d workshops for teachers; community programming/events; guided tours to the Kinsol Trestle and more. There is also a small but well stocked gift shop.

Museum staff and Volunteers enthusiastically share their passion for Shawnigan Lake – past, present and future – with every visitor. The unique style of interpretation, delivered for every visitor, is what distinguishes the Shawnigan Lake Museum from other museums. Our Guarantee: We will surprise you!

Shawngan Lake Museum Highlights Include:

  • Kinsol Trestle – enrich your visit by stopping at the museum
  • Unique Gallery for Canadian artist, EJ Hughes
  • Informal info centre for the area
  • Well stocked gift shop


Contact Information:


1775 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Rd,
Shawnigan Lake, BC
V0R 2W0, Canada



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Our Experience

It was a rainy day in early April, we planned to visit Kinsol Trestle, but due to the rain continuing to get worse, we didn’t go far down the trail before turning around and heading into the village of Shawnigan Lake. We decided to visit Shawnigan Lake Museum to learn about the Trestle and the surrounding area.

Visiting Shawnigan Lake MuseumAs soon as we entered, we were greeted with a smile and informed that the entry fee was a donation without any pressure. The museum’s first exhibit was an impressive model of the Kensol Bridge, and our host was eager to answer any questions we had while we explored the rest of the museum.

Although the museum had a lot of exhibits, they were well-presented, illuminated and captivating, which made the space feel much larger from the inside. With the small building packed with fantastic historical items, it didn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming.

We enjoyed our visit. Even our twelve-year-old daughter took a liking to some of the artifacts, like the old phonograph and telephone displays. We highly recommend the Shawnigan Lake Museum to anyone visiting Kinsol Trestle or just in the area.

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Original Author:

Modified: May 22, 2023
Last Visit: April 3, 2023

Thank you for visiting – I hope you found the information you were looking for at VIBL (Vancouver Island Bucket List) please continue to discover all of the great places that makes Vancouver Island so great! 

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