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


  • Brenda Burch
  • Russell Dann
  • Gord Dickenson
  • Blair Herbert
  • Nellie Poelman
  • Lynne Pohynayko
  • Jayne Shaw
  • Bill Wikkerink

President's Message

We have all faced challenges due to the Corona Virus. We, at the Farmers Institute, were also challenged as we work on new ways to help the community and to conduct our business.

Before getting to the future, I would like to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers and helpers who continue to contribute so much to the success of our Society and to the community as a whole. I am most grateful to those who helped support the numerous Cobble Hill events, groups and activities. This was truly a banner year.

We are moving ahead with a traditional Fair this year. We held ‘Virtual’ Cobble Hill Fairs for 2 years with entries submitted electronically and we enjoyed the experience, but it will be good to get back to our traditional event.

It will be nice to see the quilts, baking, flowers, sheep, cabbage along with 4-H animals and many other entries on the day of our Fair. The Cobble Hill Fair is always a wonderful Old Fashioned Country Fair where we invite people to slow down and enjoy the rural nature of our community. This is what is really great about living in South Cowichan!

The 'Virtual Fair' was a good way to keep the Fair alive and happening, and we can certainly look back on those 2 Covid years and we will be proud of the notion that we kept our Fair going even under the very unusual circumstances but we really are looking forward to the hustle and bustle of our one day Fair.

We hope you and your family will come out to the Fair where we meet friends and neighbours both known and new.

In the meantime, safe and well! Take care.

~ Roger Painter, President

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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