About Us

Incorporated on November 3rd 1914, the Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmer Institute gave settlers new to the area a place to congregate, to share information and to seek needed help from those already established in our newly forming and thriving farming community.

As Cobble Hill and the surrounding communities did not have any form of local governance until the late 1960s, the Farmers Institute along with other local organizations joined together to act on behalf of its citizens.

As such, the Farmers Institute provided a social outlet for pioneers in addition to supplying agricultural needs like advice, seeds, fertilizer and blasting powder.

It also acted with individuals, businesses and other groups to build amenities like the Cenotaph, which can be seen at the corner of Fisher Road and Heigh Street, as well as ensure schools and churches were built in the area.

Today, the Farmers Institute acts as a community hub. The Cobble Hill Hall is the only historic community hall remaining from those early years. The community hall in Shawnigan Lake was replaced by a modern recreation facility run by the Cowichan Valley Regional District and in Mill Bay, the Mill Bay Community League Hall is also more current and sits on the same site as the Kerry Park Recreation Centre.

70s fairThe facilities and grounds owned and operated by the Farmers Institute are managed and maintained entirely by volunteers. Governance is provided by a 12-person board of directors who are elected annually by the general membership.

We are very fortunate to live in a community where volunteerism plays such a huge role in who we are. This helps to define us as well as accentuate the value of living in a rural agricultural area where the lifestyle we all enjoy remains.

Board of Directors


  • Roger Painter - President
  • Gerry Giles - Secretary
  • George Robbins - Past President
  • Roy Davies - Vice President
  • Robin Brett - Treasurer


  • George Baird
  • Betsy Burr
  • Russell Dann
  • Gord Dickenson
  • Scott Robertson
  • Jayne Shaw
  • Michael St. Slair
  • Bill Wikkerink

President's Message

South Cowichan is a unique part of Vancouver Island.  We have a rich agriculture base and are part of the second oldest community on Vancouver Island; the Cowichan Valley. With a strong background in forestry and farming, which are still our mainstays, our community is home to many people working here and in Victoria our neighbor to the south. I believe this is the best place on the Island to raise a family and enjoy the good life that only a rural culture has to offer.

Our Fair is a unique reflection of what makes our communities special. Last year we saw a rebirth of both 4-H and animal husbandry as significant parts of our Fair. It was a real treat to see our young 4-H groups again showing off their hard efforts and being judged for the quality of their work. We were also pleased to have a return of the popular Horse Show in our lower field.  These two events, along with our usual mixture of vintage machinery, kids’ activities and a plethora of local vendors brought back a full schedule, including a group of great local entertainers. The Fair is also a reflection of one other important aspect of our communities: “Involvement”.  We are a community that prides itself on the many volunteers that help in so many ways across the South Cowichan region. Many of our volunteers are now coming from the younger ranks of our community and we are please to see them take a greater part in our Fair.

The planning and preparations for the Fair involves looking carefully at all aspects of it from entertainment to the many catalogue entries. The Fair Committee is a dedicated group of knowledgeable people who review and prepare a better version of the Fair each year. As their Chair, I’m proud to work with them. We want to give people the opportunity to share their skills, knowledge and talents through the exhibits for the Arts,  Gardening, Domestic Sciences, Produce, and even Poetry, Wine, Photography to Hobbies and Crafts as well as to enjoy a day of good entertainment and fellowship.

We are also blessed to have the support of many of our communities corporate, business and professional sponsors who are proud to share their community spirit.  Without their backing our Fair would not be what it is. We hope that you will remember them through the year and where possible support them. Shop locally and support our businesses. They not only bolster our Fair but provide local jobs and build our local economy.

If we were to ask our ancestors from the very first number of Fairs, I dare to say that they would be very proud of this unique event what it has evolved into. They would be glad our community still celebrates the harvest and our love of animal husbandry while providing a great place for our community to still come together and share the best of what we have.

We all hope to see you at our annual 115th celebration on August 24th.  Come out and help us enjoy the best of what our community has to offer. Meet and say Hi to your neighbors and see what makes South Cowichan that special place to live. And if you want to volunteer, just give us a call. We'd be happy to put you to work.

I personally look forward seeing you!

Roger Painter


Roger Painter

Roger Painter

Our Mandate

  • To promote rural life and the theories and practices of agriculture;
  • To promote public awareness of the role of agriculture in today's society;
  • To promote the management and maintenance of the assets of the Cobble Hill Farmers Institute on behalf of its members;
  • To promote and celebrate the historical legacy of agriculture; and
  • To promote and support the education and participation of youth in agriculture.
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