One of the oldest and quirkiest little shopping enclaves on Vancouver Island is snugged up right alongside the Island Highway just south of Duncan. Whippletree Junction came in to being 47 years ago, the result of relocation of some of the old buildings in Duncan’s Chinatown. The contract to demolish Chinatown went to a fellow named Randy Streit, who came up with the bright idea of establishing a small business centre using the aged structures. The scheme took hold, and over the years many businesses have come and gone at Whippletree Junction. But many have endured, too, for upwards of three decades.
These days Whippletree Junction is a colourful conglomeration of charming buildings, garden-lined pathways and a pretty central courtyard that hosts a delightfully funky water fountain (The Trickle Tree Fountain) comprised of old scrap metal.
All of the businesses at Whippletree Junction are owner-operated, so there is very much a village feel. You can find all sorts of unique and beautiful items in the eclectic gathering of merchants. Shops offer locally-produced goods, rattan furniture, Italian leather furniture, reclaimed furniture, original art works, garden décor – all the sort of stuff that you will never find at a mall or a chain store, all of it special because of its distinctive characteristics.
There are also a couple of places where you can grab a bite to eat. Or, you can learn how to spin or weave or enjoy many other aspects of textile arts at Leola’s Studio, tucked away at the back of the courtyard.
I hadn’t visited Whippletree Junction for probably 35 years, and was delighted to see how well it has survived – nay, thrived! It is bigger than I remember it, with more diversity, more colour, more charm and charisma, and plenty of life. It’s a treat to visit and well worth an hour or two of your time.
Whippletree Junction is located at 4705 Trans Canada Highway, Duncan GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 48.738975 Long. -123.652504
N 48 44.339 W 123 39.150